Introducing the Acer TravelMate 8481T-6873

With all of the noise Intel and some of the OEMs are making about ultrabooks, it's easy to forget that as PC users we've already enjoyed thin-and-light and ultraportable notebooks for a while now. Were they sliver-thin? No, but the magical three pound point is something we've always been able to find. Netbooks, for better or worse, only made portability that much more accessible and affordable. With that in mind, we have on hand Acer's TravelMate 8481T, a notebook that measures under an inch thick (without the battery) and sports an SSD and matte screen. If you were in the market for an ultraportable, this one may be worth your attention.

Our review model is the TravelMate 8481T-6873, and will henceforth just be referred to as the already difficult-to-remember "TravelMate 8481T." If you look for it on Acer's website you'll have a hard time finding it; it's technically a "TravelMate TimelineX" unit, which just reminds me of how convoluted their lineup was years ago when I was shopping for my old Athlon 64-powered Gateway. You're not going to find this model readily available on NewEgg but if you're interested a trip through Google Shopping will track it down.

Acer TravelMate TimelineX 8481T-6873 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-2637M
(2x1.7GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.8GHz, 32nm, 4MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel UM67
Memory 1x4GB Kingston DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.2GHz)
Display 14" LED Matte 16:9 768p
Hard Drive(s) 128GB SanDisk SATA 3Gbps SSD (onboard)
Optical Drive -
Networking Broadcom NetXtreme Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Mic and headphone jacks
Battery 8-Cell, 14.8V, 87Wh
Front Side SD/MMC card reader
Right Side 2x USB 2.0
Exhaust vent
Kensington lock
AC adaptor
Left Side Ethernet jack
Exhaust vent
USB 3.0
Mic and headphone jacks
Back Side Battery
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 12.9" x 9.4" x 0.9" (WxDxH) (without battery)
Weight 4 lbs
Extras 1.3MP webcam
SD card reader
USB 3.0
Warranty 1-year international warranty
Pricing MSRP $1349
vailable online starting at $1202

First things first: while Acer lists the height of the TravelMate 8481T at a slender 0.9", that doesn't include the fact that the battery bulges out of the back and inclines the notebook; take that into account and you're looking at about an inch and a half. That's still not bad, and you'll see later that the massive battery pays big dividends.

There's a lot to like about this configuration, but one thing is becoming abundantly clear: optical drives are most definitely on their way out. These smaller notebooks are dispensing with them entirely, and while Dell might be proud that they managed to squeeze one into their XPS 14z, most vendors seem to be content to just ditch them altogether and honestly I'm not sure I really disagree at this point. The added bulk isn't missed, and with external, USB-powered drives so inexpensive it's hard to justify building one into a notebook anymore unless that notebook was already going to be pretty big to begin with.

In terms of specs and other features, the TravelMate looks very similar to an ultrabook: it has a ULV CPU and an SSD in the model we're reviewing (though a less expensive variant uses an HDD instead). The only thing keeping this out of the ultrabook category is the size of the battery and the resulting thickness. Let's dig a little deeper and see how it fares.

Everything But the Keyboard
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  • StormyParis - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    your rant just does not say why ? Layout ? feedback ? imprecise ? ... ?
  • StormyParis - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    that's "you hate the".. sorry, too early.
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Yeah I agree. I just re-read the review and there are absolutely no details. It's hard to tell if this is just personal preference or if there is something mechanically wrong with it

    For example, the asus ux31 has very very still action and short travel, so if you touch type and don't HAMMER the keys, you are going to miss letters. I averaged at least 2 per sentence hen I tested it out. These were besides the errors you normally make while typing, and it was fairly consistent and repeatable. In addition, several keys had spots on them where you could fully depress them and they wouldn't register. Worst was the bottom left of the enter key. That's right, the most frequently hit part if the enter key was unresponsive when fully clicked. This was demonstratible even when. It typing. I could click and hold it down on the bottom left all day with no I response

    Anyways, justin, can you follow up with a few specific issues you found with this keyboard in particular? If its simply this style of keyboard you hate... We should know that
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Gha, "stiff" not still action. Hate hate hate using my iPhone to type
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Added a bit of clarification on the keyboard. There's a lack of travel, the action is mushy, the flat texture is undesirable, and the keys themselves feel extremely cheap. Over the long haul, Acer keyboards don't hold up well is my experience, especially if you have any kids that might start picking at them. Hope that helps.
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Thank Jarred. If you have a chance, let us know if you've tried the UX31. I'm just curious if you're critique of this style of keyboard withstands the assualt of the supposed "high-quality" keybaord the Asus stuck in there.

    If I have to come down one way or another, I think I'm starting to lean towards mushy vs stiff action. At least personally, I'm able to type fairly ok with a mushy keyboard, but the UX31? woof, that thing was impossible to type on.

    PS. I must apologise again for some of my error-laden previous posts. As I said, they were made on my iphone with auto-mangle on. Speaking of utterly useless... :)
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I know you hate the UX31 keyboard, but I wonder if you didn't just have a bad unit. I've had a laptop or two over the years where certain keys simply didn't register half the time (space bars often being the major one where I've had issues). The UX31 keys don't feel stiff to me, but they do have very little travel. One thing that the UX31 keyboard does have that's better IMO than the Acer "floating island" keys is that you're much less likely to have keys come off (get pulled off) or wear out.
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    You may be right--it would be inexplicable to have reviewers experience what I experienced and continue to give it passing marks.

    I really wish I could find a local place that carries it so I can try another one. Everything else about it was pretty great. Oh wait, I think the trackpad was pretty bad too--can't really remember, but I think it was too sensitive? Guess it paled in comparison to the Keyboard issues I had.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Everything Jarred said below.

    Also, it's Dustin, not Justin. That's a serious pet peeve of mine.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    It's okay, Rusty, we still love you! ;-)

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