The business-oriented analog of Acer's Ferrari 1100, the TravelMate 6292 shares many of the same features as its flashier sibling but wraps them in a slightly thicker, boxier case that's better suited for boardrooms. One key difference: The TravelMate 6292 incorporates Intel's latest Core 2 Duo platform, which resulted in a performance boost on our multimedia multitasking benchmarks. The TravelMate 6292 also offers great battery life, which should be a boon for business travelers who regularly work long stretches away from a power outlet. In fact, the TravelMate's battery life, along with price, are its primary advantages over our other favorite full-featured ultraportable, the Lenovo 3000 V200.
|Processor||2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300|
|Memory||1GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||120GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Mobile Intel 965GM Express|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 965|
|Operating system||Windows XP Professional|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||12x9x1.2 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||12.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||4.9 / 5.7 pounds|
The TravelMate 6292's thick case, which weighs nearly 5 pounds, is best described as a "bulky ultraportable." Its size is nearly identical to that of the Lenovo 3000 V200, though the TravelMate weighs nearly half a pound more than the Lenovo. By comparison, traditional ultraportables, such as the Sony VAIO TZ150 or the Lenovo ThinkPad X61s, weigh 3 pounds or less. Still, the TravelMate 6292 is light enough to carry often, and its solid construction feels capable of standing up to the bumps and knocks of frequent travel.
The 12.1-inch wide-screen display on the TravelMate 6292 features a native resolution of 1,280x800, which offers a decent balance of screen real estate and readability for this size display. Unlike the more consumer-oriented Ferrari 1100, the TravelMate 6292's screen features a matte coating that's preferable for productivity tasks (less glare in brightly-lit office environments)--though it also proved adequate for watching movies. Above the display sits a 1.3-megapixel Webcam with a single microphone for Web videoconferencing.
Like most ultraportables, the TravelMate 6292's tiny case requires a compact keyboard with a shortened space bar and arrow keys. We found it suitable for extended periods of typing, though we prefer the slightly separated keys on the Ferrari 1000. The touch pad is likewise compact, but its broad width makes it usable without feeling cramped. The TravelMate 6292's mouse buttons are a bit small, owing to the fingerprint reader wedged between them. A vertical row of buttons on the right side of the keyboard deck include three application quick-launch keys plus on/off controls for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios; an "e" button above the keyboard brings up Acer's proprietary widget toolbar, with tools for managing Internet connections, monitoring power options, and changing security settings. The launch keys are helpful, but we can't help wondering if they could have been placed at the top of the deck to create room for a larger keyboard.
|Acer TravelMate 6292||Average for ultraportable category|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, S/PDIF-capable headphone jack, line-out, microphone||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||2 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD or multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||ExpressCard||PC Card or ExpressCard|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||None, or DVD burner|
The advantage of a bulky case: plenty of room for ports and connections. The TravelMate 6292 offers both S/PDIF and audio line-out jack. Given the predictably muddled sound emitted by the stereo speakers, you'll want to plug in some external speakers or headphones. The larger case also means there's room for a DVD burner, though the TravelMate 6292 incorporates a tray-loading drive instead of the slot-loading model found on the Ferrari 1100. It's a small nitpick but we do appreciate a slot-loading drive for working in cramped spaces such as an airplane tray table.
Acer offers several versions of the TravelMate 6292, all stocked with Intel Core 2 Duo processors and the Mobile 965 Express chipset with integrated graphics. The configuration we tested included a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 CPU (built on the company's Merom architecture), 1GB of 667MHz RAM, and a 5,400rpm hard drive. On CNET Labs' benchmarks, the TravelMate 6292 finished mostly at the head of a pack of similarly configured systems. The one notable exception was the Photoshop test, where a Lenovo 3000 V200 configured with twice as much RAM finished well ahead of the Acer. While it's always nice to have a little extra memory, it's not a strict necessity, particularly for the typical productivity applications, such as Microsoft Office, that most users will be running on the TravelMate. On the whole, we feel that the TravelMate 6292 represents a good value, providing the majority of business users the power they need at a price that fits within most budgets.
The TravelMate 6292's six-cell battery extends 0.9 inch off the back of the laptop, adding to the amount of space it takes up in your bag. The sacrifice is well worth it, though: The system lasted a lengthy 4 hours, 32 minutes on our DVD battery drain test. That's 43 minutes longer than the life of the Dell XPS M1210 and well beyond the lives of the Lenovo 3000 V200 and Acer's own Ferrari 1100. Our DVD battery drain test is particularly taxing, so you can expect a slightly longer battery life during typical use.
Acer backs the system with a one-year parts and labor warranty that's standard for low-cost business systems. (Some higher-end business systems, such as ThinkPads, still ship with three-year warranties, but those models are also more expensive.) Adding two years of additional coverage runs $99. Acer's technical-support phone lines are open only Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT. The company's online support could stand some sprucing up. Though it does offer easy driver and manual downloads, it lacks such helpful features as forums and real-time chat with a technical-support representative.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)