Acer TravelMate 8100 Series
- Crisp 15.4' widescreen
- Shorter battery life than predecessor
Sleek, powerful, well-equipped portable computing for a fair price.
Price$ 3,699.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 5 stores)
Wider screen. Sleeker case. Easier upgrades. The Acer TravelMate 8100 offers several advantages over its predecessor, the impressive TravelMate 8000.
The 8100 weighs about 2.86kg--including an integrated DVD burner--yet boasts an impressively large 15.4" wide-aspect screen for working on documents side by side more easily. The native 1680 x 1050-pixel resolution renders screen elements slightly small but crisp and perfectly readable.
The unit slopes to a slim 1.3" in front, and the lower case is slightly deeper than the closed screen to protect it from bumps and to leave exposed the front ports. Those connections include microphone and headphone jacks in addition to a five-in-one card reader and handy Bluetooth and Wi-Fi buttons that both control wireless communications and serve as glowing status indicators. Three of the four USB 2.0 ports now sit on the right-hand side of the case instead of the left, a welcome change for right-handed folks like me.
The 8100 is fully user-upgradeable: you can access both RAM slots, and the hard drive is easy to reach in a compartment on the bottom.
The 8100 lasted a little over 4 hours on one charge in our tests. That's well above average.
On our test bench, the 8100 performed well, doing better than the 8000. It pulled down a WorldBench 5 score of 94, about what I would expect from a 2GHz Pentium M 760-equipped laptop loaded with 1GB of RAM. A Toshiba Portege S100 with the same processor but only half the RAM earned a score of 83.
Although Acer calls the 8100 a mainstream laptop, it's loaded, with a capital L. It has a removable right-side double-layer DVD burner that swaps out for a second hard drive or a second battery; it has a FireWire port; and it offers three ways to connect an external monitor (via VGA, S-Video, and DVI-D). Those who prefer key cards to fingerprint readers for thwarting break-ins at the BIOS, password, and file levels will appreciate the 8100's smartcard slot, stacked atop a standard PC Card slot on the left side of the case. You get two cards with your purchase, including one that can be set up as a one-time-use emergency card. (After that, you have to return the laptop to a dealer for resetting, which is one reason I slightly favour a biometric security solution.)
The TravelMate's ergonomic keyboard curves 5 degrees upward on the ends so you end up positioning your elbows in a way that experts say helps prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. It's an acquired taste. Besides that, I liked everything else about the keyboard, including its short, hard 2.7mm key depression (rather than the standard 3mm) and handy set of four user-programmable shortcut buttons.
Acer includes some nice software extras. For instance, the proprietary power management utility makes it extremely easy to specify customised power schemes, including whether the FireWire port and wireless scanning are enabled. Acer's GridVista, based on Dritek System's utility for dragging and dropping applications into preset windows on the extrawide screen, looked worthwhile, but I couldn't get it to work on our unit.
The only area in which the 8100 stumbles is entertainment. Letterboxed DVD movies looked fine on the wide-aspect screen, but sound from the front-mounted stereo speakers was too faint. Hardware volume control is limited to annoying combination keystrokes. Looking up information in the user manuals could be easier, too. The Acrobat manual preinstalled on the hard drive is more detailed than the basic printed manual, but it has no index. At first, I thought that it also lacked a contents page, but that page simply turned out not to be bookmarked.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 2 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 3 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
- 4 Ford Focus ST (2015) review: Absolutely mental styling, engine, handling
- 5 LG 65-inch UHD TV (65UF950T) review
Deals on Good Gear Guide
- Networking, Wireless & VoIP
Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Surface Pro 4 on sale at Microsoft's Sydney store on November 12
- Microsoft enters the notebook market with Surface Book
- As Microsoft focuses on mobile, Windows 10 will be key
- Microsoft to live-stream Tuesday's Surface Pro 4, Lumia event
- What we expect from Microsoft's massive device launch: new Surfaces, Lumias, and Band
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTDatabase Marketing ManagerNSW
- FTProduct Marketing ManagerNSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- FTDigital ManagerNSW
- FTManual Test Engineer | Financial Institution | Web testingNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Music IndustryNSW
- FT1st & 2nd level IT support all-rounder in beautiful rural BathurstNSW
- FTSystems Administrator - Managed ServicesNSW
- CCWeb / Drupal DeveloperNSW
- FTBusiness Development & Account ManagementNSW
- FTLevel 2 IT Support TechnicianVIC
- CCE-Commerce - Senior Web Application DeveloperNSW
- FTLinux Administrator with AWS & DevopsNSW
- FTSales SpecialistNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Client Side - Previous Agency Experience Welcome!!NSW
- FTSenior Consultant | Project work | National Systems IntegratorVIC
- FTSystems Administrator | National commercial law firm | MS, AWS & eDiscoveryNSW
- CCMilitary simulation programmer with C# and Unity - 3 monthsNSW
- FTSenior Account Manager - PR AgencyNSW
- FTField EngineerNSW