Acer’s slim Timeline ULV notebooks are dressed (and priced) to impress

Earlier this month we tipped you off to the imminent local release of Acer’s Aspire Timeline ultra-portables based on Intel’s ultra-low voltage chips and voiced the hope that they’d also be ultra-affordable.

Acer unveiled the TimeLine series (along with its new 11.6 inch Aspire One netbook) to the Australian tech media yesterday and the pricing should help pull in the punters when these lithe laptops go on sale next week although the model with the biggest screen will definitely induce a case of sticker shock.

The 13.1 inch model 3810T kicks off the Timeline family at $1299

The baby of the bunch is the $1299 13.3 inch Aspire Timeline 3810T. This is powered by Intel’s Core 2 Solo processor – specifically the 1.4GHz SU3500 – but the slim tapered profile leaves no room for an optical drive so a USB DVD burner is optional.

You do however get a 250GB hard drive 4GB of RAM 802.11n and Bluetooth. Graphics comes courtesy of Intel’s integrated GMA 4500MHD chipset which is a mobile version of the desktop-class X4500HD and capable of 1080p HD video playback.

$1699 gets you the slightly larger and DVD-equipped Timeline 4810T

At $1699 the 14 inch Aspire Timeline 4810T is almost identical to the 3810T right down to the single-engine processor but sports an inbuilt DVD multi-layer drive and slightly fatter 320GB hard drive.

A dual-core CPU plus ATI Radeon graphics give the $2549 Timeline 5810T more grunt to go

The 15.6 inch Aspire Timeline 5810T comes in at an ouch-inducing $2549 and is the only one of the trio with a dual-core CPU (Intel’s Core 2 Duo SU9400) although has the same 1.4GHz clock speed and 3MB of L2 cache as the Solo versions. The hard disk is boosted to a generous 500GB while pixel-pumping duty falls to an ATI Radeon Mobility 4330 GPU backed by 512MB of VRAM.

All up the three Timeline notebooks have more in common than what sets them apart. Each is fitted with a six-cell 5600 mAh battery which Acer rates at eight hours while their respective screens run at 1366 x 768 WXGA for 720p HD. The keyboards all follow the Apple-inspired ‘chiclet’ style which Acer terms a ‘floating keyboard’.

MacBook-style ‘floating keyboards’ seem to be the in thing for netbooks and notebooks alike

They’re all under one inch thin – the average waistline is 2.4cm –  with weights ranging from 1.6kg for the 3810T to 1.9kg for the 4810T and 2.4kg for the 5810T.

None of the Timeline notebooks is thicker than an inch and all claim eight hours battery life

Shared smart touches and creature comforts include a soft-touch button to disable the trackpad a memory card reader mounted at the laptop’s leading edge so it’s easy to find without fumbling around and a PowerSmart button which toggles the notebook between performance and battery-friendly modes.

The design is sharp yet subdued and certainly not too far ‘out there’ to make buyers think twice

And after seeing these in the flesh or rather the brushed aluminium at today’s launch we can assure you that while Acer’s played it safe in the design department the Timelines look a tad more stylish than the photos suggest.

This one’s not a Timeline – it’s the full bottle full throttle Acer Aspire 3935 packing a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo powerplant

But if the Timelines all seem a little meek for your mobile computing needs Acer also slipped into yesterday’s launch the Aspire 3935. This $2499 ultra-portable shares the same 13.3 inch HD screen as the Timeline 3810T but is built around a full-bore Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13GHz P7450 engine with an integrated DVD drive wedged into its 2.5cm thin copper-coloured chassis.