Acer TravelMate 330T Review - Page 6

Accessories And Features

Easy-Link Combo
Most sub-notebooks do not have built-in CDROM or floppy drives to reduce the thickness and additional weight - one thing you have to come to terms with, hunting in this category.
Question is: Do you need the drives all the time?

Since games are generally out, the CDROM drive is only needed to perform the occasional software installation (or reinstallation?). Floppy drive? I almost never use it.

So the TravelMate 330T comes the Easy-Link Combo kit, with its advantages and disadvantages. The PROs are that the 2-in-1 combo is hot-pluggable, requires no external AC power, and needs only a single connection to a proprietary EasyLink connector on the left side of the notebook. The CON is you have to bring the entire 2-in-1 combo if all you need is either one. Excess weight!

Built-in Lucent 56K Modem
The built-in modem worked perfectly well and since it is a hardware modem, you do not have to fear that your CPU cycles are chewed up. It also accepts the standard RJ-11 phone jack, so it does not have to rely on fragile and expensive dongles.

This is a feature incorporated into the TravelMate, where 2 buttons placed between the right and left trackpad buttons function like standard wheel-mouse up/down scrollers. They are intuitive and easy to master, and I found them to be useful when reading long documents.

However, a problem with the Synaptics driver prevented the external wheel-mouse’s wheel to function correctly when plugged into the PS/2 port. This is something I hope will be fixed in future driver revisions.

Trident Cyber 9525DVD AGP 2.5Mb SDRAM Graphics Controller
I did not have the DVD-ROM combo kit to test the MPEG-2 acceleration of Trident’s graphics chipset. But graphics performance is very adequate for whatever I needed to do on the laptop. Ok, I admit that it sustained an acceptable looking game of FIFA ’99 (software mode) with my USB Creative Cobra gamepad docked in.

The graphics controller allows for simultaneous monitor and LCD. An interesting feature is the support of Windows desktop extension onto the monitor. So you can work akin to a dual monitor setup. Very cool indeed!

Thermal & Battery Management
This is an inert feature implemented in the system layout and design right from the beginning to minimize system temperature, thereby improving battery life.

Often you find notebooks generating an unbearable amount of heat that can become a major irritation when you try to do some productive work. Either the palm rest or keyboard area will get so warm that it makes typing uncomfortable and sometimes the underside warms your laps so much you perspire in your pants.

Here’s a snip from the makers themselves:

"The TravelMate 330 employs a low-profile advanced "FlexFlow Air Channel" thermal solution. The concept is designed and implemented in the system layout right at the beginning. By setting up this channel, heat can be dissipated efficiently by crossing the lowest temperature such as PCMCIA area, and then the mid temperature area like HDD module area and finally comes to the CPU area-the highest temperature area. With this solution, the average internal system temperature can be reduced remarkably by 10 degree Celsius to 15 degree Celsius and the battery life can be thus increased by more than 10%."

On my own evaluation, the TravelMate does get warm after some hours, but to a lesser extend than other notebooks I used in the past. Check out the amount of heat generated by other notebooks to get the significance of what I mean, especially in non-air-conditioned environments.

Carrying Cases
The TravelMate 330T comes with a huge carrying bag, though of high quality, seem too big for the notebook. The notebook, external EasyLink Combo kit, AC adapter, external mouse & pad, a couple of magazines and up to 4 or 5 CDs can easily fit inside the huge carrier. While it will please those who need the space, it does not show off the sleek beauty within.

Fortunately, the purchase also includes a handsome slid-in file, which will nicely enclose your investment in a handy protective cover no bigger than an A4 size file. Try pulling the silver beauty from this cover inside a passenger train and see the amount of attention you draw!

The package included a 9-step fold-out guide on how to set up the notebook upon purchase. There is also a thick textbook-like manual accompanying the guide.

9-Steps Starter Guide

The user's guide is a useful read for anybody owning a notebook for the first time as it contains advices on how to care for the notebook, how to preserve battery life and what to bring along when you travel, etc.

User's Guide

For those of you who fear books, there is an online version of the manual with other additions.

Online Guide

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