Acer TravelMate C301XCi review: Acer TravelMate C301XCi

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The Good Large display; excellent performance and battery life; smart-card reader; automatic light sensor.

The Bad Big and heavy; screen wobbles.

The Bottom Line Acer's fast TravelMate C301XCi supersizes the tablet format, but it's too big and heavy for all but the most dedicated tablet users.

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7.1 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8
  • Support 7

Acer TravelMate C301XCI

The Acer TravelMate C301XCi tablet PC proves that good things can come in large packages. But while its performance, battery life, and display are outstanding, this convertible tablet is so big and heavy, it's cumbersome to carry and use. On the other hand, if you crave a big tablet for work or play, this is your kind of computer.

At 1.7 by 12.8 by 10.7 inches, the Acer TravelMate C301XCi dwarfs the latest round of tablets, with their 10.4-inch or 12.1-inch screens. Weighing in at an unwieldy 6.7 pounds, it's nearly a pound heavier than Gateway's M275 convertible tablet, the only other tablet with a 14.1-inch screen. Add in Acer's 10-ounce AC adapter for a hefty travel weight of 7.3 pounds. Although you can travel a little lighter by trading the optical drive for a plastic bay, the C301XCi is still a lot to lug between gates at the airport.

The Acer TravelMate C301XCi's display is crisp and bright, and we really like its handy automatic light sensor, which takes about 5 seconds to adjust the screen in ambient conditions. To go from a traditional notebook design to a tablet system, twist the screen around and fold it flat. Unfortunately, there are no buttons on the side of the tablet to release the screen or hold it steady, and the screen wobbles a bit when upright.

Part of the trade-off for giant size is the TravelMate C301XCi's good assortment of ports, including two USB ports, a PC Card slot, FireWire, S-Video, VGA, audio, and a four-in-one flash-memory card reader. The rest of the hardware also impresses us, including its 1.5GHz Pentium M processor, a 40GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD combo drive, and a smart-card reader.

The machine's novel, slightly curved keyboard takes a while to get used to, but its big keys are firm and responsive. The TravelMate C301XCi also comes with a more comfortable writing stylus than the one with the Acer TravelMate C110.

Flying through our benchmarks, the TravelMate C301XCi showed itself to be the fastest tablet ever tested in CNET Labs, hitting 159 on our MobileMark 2002 benchmark and outpacing the Fujitsu LifeBook T3000's 152 score. The modest 4,400mAh battery also cranked, lasting 5 hours, 5 minutes.

As with its other systems, Acer backs the TravelMate C301XCi with a one-year warranty; adding two years costs a reasonable $190. The company has one of the most thorough and complete Web sites anywhere, with driver and manual downloads, operating system updates, articles, and tips. The toll-free, 24-hour help line is supplemented by the ability to e-mail Acer technicians for tech support, although it took a day and a half for our question to be answered.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

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