Acer TravelMate 330T Review - Page 2

Selection Criterion
After a month of research, I worked out a wish list: PII-300Mhz, 128Mb RAM, lightweight, long battery life, good keyboard and trackpad, as well as a good clear screen. Below is the order of importance:

  1. Processing Power

  2. Weight

  3. Battery Life

  4. Keyboard and trackpad

  5. Good Clear LCD

  6. Other features

Processing Power
Most notebooks have a Pentium 300MMX at the very least, and I think they are quite sufficient for most jobs I liked to carry out on the move. Perhaps a game of Quake III or Need For Speed would be nice, but until the Savage4 MX/IX 3D is out, mobile graphics accelerators are just too weak. I digress and concentrate on doing some serious work first.

Well, weight is a major hindrance to bringing a notebook around and I have seen friends purchase monsters only to leave them at home. Notebooks must be light, mobiles must be mobile. I was left to hunt in the class of sub-notebooks for something less than 2kg in weight

Next in line is battery life. Your powerful notebook is not very useful if it cannot last you an hour per charge. That will mean searching for an AC supply before any meaningful work can be done in its true mobile state. Extra batteries are not often an option since they cost arms and legs and weigh elephants.

Touchy Touchy
Usually, I prefer the trackpad implementations than trackpoints on notebooks, but that is a personal preference.

Good, spacious keyboards are very important especially for people with huge fingers like myself, often frustrated and handicapped on tiny notebook keyboards. To save space, companies developed awkward layouts and shrank the size of keys, so be sure to test it out before a purchase.

No matter how much you liked a portable, stay away from it if you cannot draft a complete document without winding up with chronic cramps and keyboard-induced muscular disorders.

Generally, TFT screens perform on par with each other, with the exception of several incredible TFTs found on the Panasonic S-51, A-77, Sony Vaio Z505 and the Sharp Actius (Mebius) series. They are extremely bright and crisp, and have excellent contrasts.

Notebook TFTs are usually dull in brightly lit areas, but the above are said to perform very well even in these conditions. You will not need to stare long to appreciate the differences when these screens are placed side-by-side with conventional ones.

Blind Spots

AC Adapter
Most people fail to recognize the importance of having a small AC adapter. Never forget to check the size and weight or you could end up lugging a brick to your otherwise lightweight notebook.

Do not forget to check the type/speed/weight/price of the external CDROM and FDD kits. Check if the kits are included as part of the deals.

The size of harddisk drives will vary with different user requirements, and typically notebooks have at least 4.3Gb HDD today.

If you need your notebook for high impact multimedia presentations, the sound chipsets will be of concerned too. Most notebooks have 16-bit soundcards that generate adequate CD-quality sound based on either Yamaha or ESS Audio chipsets.

Listen for yourself if the quality and volume of the speakers are good enough and be sure that there is a line-out jack to output to more powerful speaker systems whenever the need arise.

Notebooks typically have the standard plethora of ports built-in, but the class of sub-notebooks frequently omit them in favour of external port replicators to save on real-estate. Therefore, if the ports or replicators are not part of the bundle, the additional costs must be weighed in as well.

AfterSales and International Warranties
Your notebook is a huge but fragile investment you purchase from a specific company. It is not often easily reparable in generic computer stores, so good aftersales support is definitely a huge plus. International warranties are also important to business travelers who might need help with their machines in foreign countries.


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