Acer TravelMate C110 review: Acer TravelMate C110

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.5
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 4.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Top-notch performance; great design; excellent assortment of software; includes external DVD/CD-RW drive.

The Bad Short battery life; slightly heavier than original model; short, one-year standard warranty.

The Bottom Line Acer’s TravelMate C110TCi is the fastest tablet we’ve tested, and it squeezes more into its small frame than any convertible tablet, making it one of the best in its class.

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Intro

The Acer TravelMate C110TCi picks up where the multitalented TravelMate C102Ti model left off, marking the start of the second generation of tablet PCs. The new model is faster--it's the speediest tablet we've tested--and it includes several updates, such as Intel's Centrino technology. But the updates come at the cost of a slight weight increase and disappointing battery life. With a 900MHz Pentium M processor, a 40GB hard drive, and 512MB of RAM, the TravelMate C110TCi is all you'll need on the road for writing on the screen or typing, although you'll want to shell out for a second battery if you choose this tablet. Although the tablet PC genre is less than a year old, Acer has already reworked its version, with largely positive results: the TravelMate C110TCi remains a great-looking, black-and-silver hybrid. On the downside, it has gained weight and size and lost its smart-card reader, and it now comes with a single battery--not the pair that accompanied the previous model, the TravelMate C102Ti . This lone battery conked out just a little past the two-hour mark in CNET Labs' tests , a disappointing score.

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The screen twists and folds down on the keyboard.
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The stylus for writing on the screen is on the small side.

At first glance, the TravelMate C110TCi model roughly matches its predecessor, although at 1.4 by 10.1 by 8.5 inches, it's slightly bigger in all dimensions. Weighing in at 3.3 pounds, the TravelMate C110TCi is more than a pound heavier than NEC's Versa LitePad slate design, but it's smaller than Toshiba's Portégé 3505 , a convertible with a larger screen. The TravelMate C110TCi's AC adapter weighs a clunky 15 ounces, making for a 4.2-pound travel weight.

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The small touchpad accurately places the cursor.

With a twist-and-fold-over screen, the TravelMate C110TCi quickly converts from a keyboard-based notebook to a touch-screen tablet. While the 10.4-inch screen can't compare with the 12.1-inch displays that adorn many of its competitors, it's enough for doodling away a long flight, scribbling through a meeting, and Web browsing. After a week of use, we found that the screen was more resistant to fingerprints and dust than the earlier model's, but it's just as easily overwhelmed by glare if tilted at the wrong angle. With a curved keyboard, typing takes a little practice and patience to get used to. Still, the 18.1mm keys, which have a generous 2.4mm of depth, are just big enough, and the small touchpad accurately places the cursor. (There's no pointing stick.)

As far as writing on the screen goes, the TravelMate C110TCi remains a study in stylus frustration. It comes with a disappointingly small and thin pen that fits into a slot at the top of the screen. The system includes a larger, more comfortable pen, too, but there's no place to stash it and the eraser doesn't work with all drawing applications.

The single speaker to the left of the touchpad sounds clear until it is cranked up, when it takes on the tinny quality of an AM radio station. Unfortunately, the speaker is covered when the screen is folded flat and, hence, sounds muffled.
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The TravelMate C110TCi includes ample ports and slots.

For such a small convertible tablet, the TravelMate C110TCi squeezes in an amazing range of big-notebook features. The jewel in the crown is Intel's 900MHz ultra-low-voltage Pentium M processor, which can run rings around the original TravelMate C102Ti's 800MHz PIII CPU. But despite the low-powered Pentium M, the TravelMate C110TCi still runs hot and provides only a little more than two hours of battery life. While the system came with 512MB of 266MHz SDRAM memory, it can hold up to a whopping 2GB of memory, which is more than enough to stand up to even the toughest applications.

A good variety of ports, most of which are protected by flexible rubber covers, live along the tablet's edges. In addition to a pair of USB 2.0 ports, the TravelMate C110TCi comes with connections for FireWire, audio, and an external monitor. You'll also find ports for infrared, Ethernet, and a 56Kbps modem, as well as a single PC Card slot. (Or you can get even more ports with the optional, $124 port replicator.) With its Intel 2100 wireless/Pro Wi-Fi data radio, the system achieves Centrino status. For your data storage needs, the Acer includes an external combo CD-RW/DVD drive, which connects via the FireWire port and requires its own power supply.

Unlike its tablet peers, software is the TravelMate C110TCi's strong suit. This tablet comes with Windows XP Tablet Edition and a helpful Notebook Manager utility, which consolidates configuration and basic settings. The tablet also includes trial versions of Norton AntiVirus 5.0 and Alias SketchBook Pro, as well as Corel's Grafigo for collaboration and FranklinCovey's TabletPlanner. The icing on the cake is the two e-book-viewing programs: Microsoft Reader and Zinio Reader.
The TravelMate C110TCi came out on top in our test group and is the fastest tablet we've tested. It's also the speediest 900MHz Pentium M system we've tested--either tablet or notebook. While the Motion Computing M1300 tablet and the TravelMate C110TCi have almost identical specs, the hard drive in the TravelMate can handle more bandwidth with an interface transfer rate of 100MB per second compared to the Motion M1300's hard drive interface transfer rate of 66MB per second.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Acer TravelMate C110
133 
Motion Computing M1300
117 
Toshiba Tablet Portégé 3500
48 

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

Acer TravelMate C110TCi
Windows XP Tablet; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/92855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GB 40GN 4,200rpm

Motion Computing M1300
Windows XP Tablet; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/92855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 20GB 20GN 4,200rpm

Toshiba Tablet Portégé 3505
Windows XP Tablet; 1.3GHz Intel Pentium III-M; 496MB SDRAM 133MHz; Trident Cyberblade XP Ai1 16MB (shared); Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm
Unfortunately, the TravelMate C110TCi comes in last place in battery life, with a significantly lower score than those of comparison systems. The Motion Computing M1300 comes out on top in battery life, thanks to the combination of its 11.1V, 3,600mAh battery and its 900MHz Pentium M processor. Although the TravelMate C110TCi also has a 900MHz processor, its 14.8V, 1,800mAh battery held it back. The Toshiba Portege 3505 , with its 10.8V, 3,600mAh battery, also beat the TravelMate.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life in minutes  
Motion Computing M1300
233 
Toshiba Tablet Portégé 3500
184 
Acer TravelMate C110
137 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Acer TravelMate C110TCi
Windows XP Tablet; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/92855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GB 40GN 4,200rpm

Motion Computing M1300
Windows XP Tablet; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/92855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 20GB 20GN 4,200rpm

Toshiba Tablet Portégé 3505
Windows XP Tablet; 1.3GHz Intel Pentium III-M; 496MB SDRAM 133MHz; Trident Cyberblade XP Ai1 16MB (shared); Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm
The TravelMate C110TCi comes with a standard one-year warranty, which is a step behind the best. You'll need to pay a reasonable $142 to extend it to a full three-year policy; an extra $100 beyond that provides additional screen protection. Thankfully, you can call in with a problem on the company's toll-free, 24/7 support line for the duration of the warranty or send e-mail to a technician.

Acer's Web site is second to none when it comes to providing documentation and online help for tablet problems. Online, there are FAQs, start-up tips, and manuals, as well as downloads of the latest drivers and software updates. Our favorite part of the Web site is the chat room where technical-support personnel offer assistance. Also, the printed manual is thorough and easy to understand.

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Where to Buy

Acer TravelMate C110

Part Number: LXT270E044 Released: May 1, 2003

MSRP: $1,949.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May 1, 2003
  • Resolution 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
  • Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Chipset Type Intel 855GM
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Weight 3.3 lbs
  • Optical Drive CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - external
  • Graphics Processor Intel Extreme Graphics 2
  • CPU Intel Pentium M 900 MHz