The Acer Aspire Timeline X isn't part of the fusty laptop crowd that believes a plain black coat is the height of fashion. Instead, it offers a much more snazzy blue aluminium shell, which apart from looking swanky is very sturdy to boot.
Our model -- the 5830T-2316G64Mnbb -- packs a 2.10GHz Intel Core i3-2310M processor with 6GB of RAM.
It's available from Saveonlaptops, among other vendors, for £589.
Design and build quality
The Timeline X is a refreshing change from the yawn-inducingly dull aesthetic of many laptops. Rather than being smeared in yet another shade of black, it's sporting a rather attractive blue shirt.
Acer says the colour is 'cobalt'. We don't know what that is and don't have time to Google it, but we like it, whatever it is. Other than the colour, there's very little else to make the Timeline X stand out from the crowd -- the lid is extremely plain, with only the shiny Acer badge sat proudly in the middle.
Still, the blue hue is more than enough to stop this dapper chap from being boring. We'd be very happy being seen somewhere fancy with it, perhaps furiously typing away about why plain black laptops should henceforth be met with nothing but contempt.
The other feature that makes the Timeline X that bit more special is its size. It's only 25mm thick, which makes it slim enough to slide comfortably into your skinniest bag -- or perhaps keep it tucked under your pillow at night as some sort of bizarre security measure. It's 38mm wide, which doesn't make it perfectly suited for travelling -- especially on crowded buses -- but it packs a 15.6-inch screen so you can't really expect it to be much smaller.
At 2.5kg, it's not super-lightweight, but it's also not so heavy you can't comfortably take it on your travels. It's not pushing the super-light boundaries of theor Acer's own , but nor is it measuring up to the gargantuan proportions of the , which weighs in at a whopping 4.4kg.
Part of the Timeline X's weight comes from the aluminium it's dressed up in. The whole chassis is made from metal, which apart from making it look much smarter than the standard plastic, also makes it very sturdy. There's very little flex to be found in the lid or on the wrist rest -- even when we subjected it to our brutal series of pokes with our super-strong index fingers.
In our hands, the whole machine felt generally well put together. It was free from the creaks and squeaks that can often be found in the hinges of other machines, so we'd have no worries about taking it on an outback mission or lending it to a burly lumberjack for the weekend.
Battery life test
As the Timeline X is designed to be slim enough to carry around with you, it's also going to need a battery that can cope with being away from the plug for long enough for you to reach your destination. Running our battery benchmark, it managed to last 2 hours 8 minutes before conking out. It's a brutal test that runs the processor at its absolute maximum until there's no juice left, so you'll be able to achieve a better time with more normal usage.
Even if you're watching a lot of video on it, you should still be able to get around two and a half to three hours of juice, which should make that train journey fly by. Make sure you've got a decent set of headphones to drown out the sound of those shouting teenagers.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard has isolated keys that are spread out right the way across the body of the machine, making use of all available space. They're easy to press and very comfortable to type on -- we made very few typing errors due to the keys, even when touch-typing at high speed. There's also no flex when you press down on the keyboard, which adds to the premium, well-built feel of this machine.