Acer has opted for rounded edges on its new TravelMate 2483WXMi, and while it's not an ugly as a result, it doesn't make the laptop stand out either. Ergonomically, however, the TravelMate is very good. All of its wireless controls and connections are easily accessible, with a single USB port conveniently located on the side, while there are two other USB ports at the back beside the Ethernet port.
With usability in mind, the track pad is large and easy to use and it includes an additional navigation button between the standard left and right buttons.
The TravelMate has all the basic features you would hope for: the processor is a 1.7Ghz Celeron Mobile, and there is a standard 512MB of RAM which is shared with the video card. Its 80GB HD drive also features shock protection, which parks the hard drive whenever it detects sudden acceleration -- minimising damage in the event of a fall, and is a nice feature to have.
Another welcome inclusion at this price is the Dual layer DVD-RW drive, which will let you burn DVDs on the go. In addition, the laptop has two RAM slots and only one is occupied, so upgrading RAM is as simple as adding the extra memory module.
The Acer boasts a good range of accessories including a memory card reader (x-D, SD, Multimedia Cards, Sony Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro), a PC card slot for extra connectivity and three USB ports. You also have the option of connecting the TravelMate to an external VGA monitor, projector or to a TV via its built in s-video port.
There is a microphone built in for VoIP, which is great, but the speakers do need improvement. They are not really loud enough unless the room is quiet, but headphone and microphone jacks are available if you would prefer to connect a headset.
Networking includes a 10/100 Ethernet port, a dial up modem and 802.11g wireless. There is a switch to activate Bluetooth, but the module is not installed.
CNET.com.au uses Battery Eater to test battery performance and the Acer TravelMate manages a respectable one hour and thirty nine minutes before shutting down. This was achieved while performing a sizable amount of processing but with wireless switched off. You can expect slightly less time with wireless networking enabled.
In other performance testing, the TravelMate 2483WXMiperforms poorly, scoring
only 1274 in our PCMark 2005 test. PCMark is graphics intensive so the
low score is no surprise. High end graphics laptops score between 2500
and 4000 but it's important to remember that this machine costs less
than $1000 so you shouldn't expect more from it.
The TravelMate is clearly not the laptop for a power user. Nevertheless at a budget price of $999 it has a healthy amount of features. The DVD burner is a really good addition and when you also consider the built in wireless and sizable HD and RAM, it is a solid package. Vista can be a little bit slow but a simple RAM upgrade would improve its performance - especially if you were running multiple simultaneous applications.