Acer TravelMate 8200
Editor's note: In our original review, we mistakenly stated the Acer TravelMate 8200's RAM speed. The laptop ships with 533MHz RAM. We regret the error. (3/15/06)
The Acer TravelMate 8200 is one of the first Intel Core Duo laptops out of the gate. In addition to its bleeding-edge Core Duo processor, the midsize portable features a great case design and top-of-the-line components, such as a 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics chip, a mammoth 120GB hard drive, and a double-layer DVD burner. Though this sweet system delivers on the Core Duo's promise of extremely fast multimedia performance, its performance gain was less pronounced on our productivity benchmarks, making its $2,499 price too expensive for users who just want fast performance for office work. Still, the TravelMate 8200 is worth the price premium if you're looking for a well-outfitted laptop for graphic design, video editing, or heavy-duty multitasking; otherwise, you can likely meet your needs by purchasing a less expensive laptop with a single-core Pentium M processor, such as the Acer TravelMate 4650 or the .
Like many Acer laptops, the TravelMate 8200 includes a broad, comfortable keyboard with an ergonomic curve. The crisp 15.4-inch wide-screen display offers plenty of real estate with its high 1,680x1,050 native resolution. As on some Sony VAIO models, such as the BX541B and the FJ170/B, a 1.3-megapixel DV camera sits in the bezel above the screen; unlike the cameras in the VAIO models, the Acer's rotates 225 degrees, allowing you to snap shots in front of, above, or behind the laptop. The rectangular touch pad is nice and wide, as are the two mouse buttons below it; a convenient scroll button sits between the two mouse buttons. Four application-launch buttons sit above the keyboard. Finally, the laptop's front edge offers two handy sliding switches for turning the integrated Intel Pro/Wireless 3945 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) hardware on and off (to conserve the battery when not in use). While we like all these accoutrements, we wish this high-end portable provided multimedia controls, better sound, and other thoughtful touches.
The TravelMate 8200 offers a full complement of ports, jacks, and slots. The left edge includes a 56Kbps-modem jack, two USB 2.0 ports, a PC Card slot, a smart-card slot, and a double-layer DVD burner. A Gigabit Ethernet jack, a VGA port, two more USB 2.0 ports, and an ExpressCard/34 slot are on the right edge. The front edge features S/PDIF, headphone, microphone, and audio-in jacks, four-pin FireWire and Fast IR ports, and a five-in-one flash media slot. Last but not least, the back edge integrates docking, S-Video-out, and DVI ports.
Windows XP Professional is Acer's operating system of choice for the TravelMate 8200; given the laptop's wide screen and fast processor, we were a bit surprised that is not even offered as an option. The company includes the same meager software bundle--just a few disc-burning, video-viewing, and system-management apps--that it includes with most of its less expensive laptops.