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July 26, 2012
- Good sound quality
- Above average battery life
- Discrete graphics allows for 3D gaming
- Low screen resolution
- Only average performance
The Acer Timeline Ultra M5 is yet another Ultrabook on the scene. This one offers an attractive design, great audio, an optical drive and discrete graphics. It does lack in screen resolution and overall performance, which holds this computer back from the rest of the pack.
This laptop is more like an ultraportable laptop instead of an Ultrabook because of its size. It measures 14.4 x 10.1 x 0.8-inches (wdh) and weighs 5.1-pounds. It has a 15.6-inch screen as well, which puts it at a size larger than a typical Ultrabook laptop. Instead of choosing to market this laptop as an Ultrabook, Acer should've chosen to call it an ultraportable mostly because it doesn't look as sleek as the others.
The design of the Ultra M5 has a dark silver, brushed aluminum chassis with a simple cover and overall design. The interior deck has a modern-looking design that looks pleasing to the eye from all angles. While it may not be as sleek as other Ultrabooks, it's definitely not ugly either.
We found the full-size keyboard to have slightly undersized keys that were also a tad stiff. While not horrible, it was definitely noticeable when we first starting using the laptop. It also has a full-size numeric keypad too. The multitouch trackpad lacks discrete buttons similar to the trackpads on the Apple MacBook Pro laptops. The pad's surface was very smooth and responded well to our touch.
The 15.6-inch display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels, which is actually the typical resolution for laptops with smaller size screens. Because of this, the larger screen and small resolution produces fuzzy text and lines. We don't quite understand why Acer decided to do this, particularly since it has a discrete graphics card to handle a higher resolution.
Aside from that, the screen looked fairly good in terms of color quality and accuracy. It had a good level of brightness but viewing angles were only so-so.
The audio quality, however, sounded surprisingly loud and clear, which is atypical for most laptops, especially Ultrabooks and ultraportables.
The selection of ports include two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, Ethernet, a combo headphone/microphone jack and an SD card slot. Also unique to Ultrabooks is a tray-loading optical DVD drive.
Acer includes an Ivy Bridge third-gen Intel Core i5-3317U CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive with a 20GB solid-state drive and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card.
Performance with the Acer Timeline Ultra M5 laptop was only average at best. In comparison with similar laptops, performance was either at category average (for Ultrabooks) but since this is really an ultraportable, we expected better. The discrete Nvidia graphics allows for the ability to play today's 3D games at moderate graphics quality settings. This is definitely a laptop to get if you want to play video games while still remaining very portable.
Battery life with the M5 Ultrabook rounds out at just over 7-hours, which is about 2-hours longer than the category average.
For more Ultrabook and notebook computer reviews, visit our Notebook Reviews page.