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Acer TravelMate 4060 review: Acer TravelMate 4060

This midsize laptop offers good performance at a low price, but it's marred by supershrimpy battery life.

4 min read

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In the checklist of musts for business-focused midsize laptops, the $849 Acer TravelMate 4060 has most items covered. Enticing design? Check. Ample features? Check. Strong performance on office-productivity tasks? Check. Reasonable price? Check. Unfortunately, the system skips the last, but certainly not least, requirement: decent battery life. If you're buying a laptop to hit the road, a slightly more expensive model, such as the Gateway NX500X or the HP Compaq nx6110, will survive more than two hours away from the wall socket.

5.9

Acer TravelMate 4060

The Good

Inexpensive; respectable performance; well-designed case; big, wide-aspect display; comfortable keyboard.

The Bad

Very short battery life; limited connectors; lacks business-level security features; limited tech-support hours.

The Bottom Line

The midsize Acer TravelMate 4060 tells a generally compelling story with its price, performance, design, and features, but when it comes to battery life, its tale turns to one of woe.
Acer TravelMate 4060

The silver-and-black TravelMate 4060 is a bit bulky, measuring 14.3 inches wide, 11 inches deep, 1.5 inches thick. Its 6.0-pound weight is on a par with that of competing midsizers, such as the Gateway NX500X and the HP Compaq nx6110, which weigh a respective 6.2 pounds and 6.0 pounds. The TravelMate's three-prong AC adapter pushes its total travel weight up to 6.8 pounds.

The ergonomically curved keyboard on the TravelMate 4060 looks unusual but is comfortable for typing. The exceptionally wide, rectangular touch pad is complemented by two big mouse buttons and a handy scroll button. Four convenient, customizable quick-launch buttons lie above the keyboard. On/off buttons for 802.11b/g wireless and Bluetooth sit on the front edge, but the laptop's lack of a Bluetooth card, even as an option, renders its Bluetooth button meaningless. An expansive, 15.4-inch wide-aspect display with a standard 1,280x800 native resolution towers over it all. Though Acer has designated the TravelMate 4060 for users in small- and medium-size businesses, the system lacks business-friendly security features such as a fingerprint sensor and a Trusted Platform Module. But you can't expect the world in a sub-$1,000 laptop like the TravelMate 4060.

The TravelMate 4060 offers a merely basic selection of ports, jacks, and slots. Ethernet, 56Kbps modem, and two USB 2.0 ports are on the right edge, along with one Type II PC Card slot. The opposite edge features an integrated DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, while the front edge includes headphone, microphone, and audio-in jacks, plus another USB 2.0 port. A solitary VGA port is built into the back edge. While this matches the ports and the connections on the HP Compaq nx6110, the Gateway NX500X provides all of these connectors, plus a fourth USB 2.0 port, a four-pin FireWire port, and a 4-in-1 flash memory card slot.

Acer preloads the Windows XP Professional operating system onto every TravelMate 4060. In true low-cost-laptop form, the system ships with a sparse software bundle that excludes a pricey productivity suite, offering instead just NTI CD and DVD Maker, CyberLink PowerDVD, and Acer's own system management utility.

For its low $849 price, our TravelMate 4062WLCi evaluation system carried adequate parts: a 1.73GHz Pentium M 740 processor, 512MB of fast 533MHz memory, an integrated Intel 915GM chipset that swipes up to 128MB of VRAM from main memory, and a spacious 80GB, 5,400rpm hard drive. In comparison, the Gateway NX500X costs $950 yet offers an older-generation Pentium M, slower memory, and a smaller, slower hard drive. The HP Compaq nx6110, also $950, includes slower RAM and half the hard drive space.

The Acer TravelMate 4062WLCi held its own in CNET Labs' benchmark tests, running neck and neck with the Gateway NX500X and 6 percent faster than the HP Compaq nx6110. While the speed of all three systems will suffice for most basic business tasks, graphics-intensive work would definitely benefit from extra performance points.

The TravelMate 4062WLCi's extremely abbreviated, 1-hour, 44-minute battery life is too short for even the average movie. The Gateway NX500X lasted a more palatable 2 hours, 55 minutes, whereas the HP Compaq nx6110 mustered 3 hours, 50 minutes. Acer does offer a $149 extended battery if you want to roam far from a wall socket (CNET did not test this battery).

Acer's one-year warranty for the TravelMate 4060 is a bit short for a business-focused laptop, but it's to be expected given the machine's low price. We were disappointed, however, in Acer's phone support. As we first reported in our review of the TravelMate 4650, Acer claims to provide 24/7, toll-free phone support; yet calls placed before or after the company's unpublicized "live" hours (7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT on weekends) are greeted by a voice recording that instructs callers to leave a message, which will be returned by a tech-support rep. None of our multiple calls outside of live hours were ever returned. The company's support Web site is equally unsatisfying, as it fails to offer helpful features, such as a user forum.

For more detailed information about warranties and service plans, check out Computer Shopper's overview of major computer vendors.

Mobile application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2005 performance rating  

Battery life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2005 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:
Acer TravelMate 4062WLCi
Windows XP Professional; 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 740; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Western Digital Scorpio FAT32 80GB 5,400rpm
Gateway NX500X
Windows XP Home; 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 735; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC2700 333MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 4K40 40GB 4,200rpm
HP Compaq nx6110
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 730; 512MB DDR SDRAM PC2700 333MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Toshiba MK4026GAX 40GB 4,200rpm

5.9

Acer TravelMate 4060

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6Battery 3Support 4