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Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi: Blu-ray laptop

Blu-ray 4-0 HD DVD. We look at the fourth Blu-ray-ready device of the year -- the updated version of one of 2006's best laptops

The Blu-ray juggernaut continues to roll along, and so far is leaving HD DVD eating its smoke. We've already seen the Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S, and now this: the Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi -- part of the 8200 series and a descendant of the venerable TravelMate 8204WLMi.

Unlike its predecessor's DVD multidrive, this baby comes with a Matshita BD-MLT UJ-210-S Blu-ray offering shoved into its left-hand side. We didn't waste much time in chucking a couple of Blu-ray movies at it, but it didn't all go as smoothly as expected. The laptop froze on our first attempt to watch Tears of the Sun, perhaps baulking at the rubbishness of the film.

The movie played on our second attempt, but only just -- it was juddering all over the place, a problem we attributed to lack of power. Taking the hint, we connected the laptop to the mains and the situation improved, but we still saw a few dropped frames here and there. This came as a surprise given the fact that the 8215WLMi uses a 2GHz Intel T7200 processor and 2 almighty GB of DDR2 667MHz memory.

On the frames that didn't skip, we were treated to a gorgeous picture quality. The widescreen, 15-inch 1,680x1,050-pixel display won't let us run movies at their full 1080p best, but we defy anyone to complain about its image quality. We like the fact it doesn't use a glossy screen coating as this helps colour accuracy and minimises annoying reflections.

The TravelMate 8215WLMi includes a 160GB hard drive, an ATI Radeon X1600 graphics card, an Orbicam webcam that follows your face as you move about and more carbon fibre on the lid than you'll know what to do with.

All this will set you back around £2,000, which sounds like extortion if it won't play Blu-ray films smoothly. We'll investigate the problem and bring you a full review shortly. -RR

Update: a full review of the Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi is now live.