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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  • fic2 - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    +100! A laptop over $1000 and it has such crappy resolution. My 6 years old Dell that I bought for $650 has better resolution.
  • vision33r - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I have owned about 3 Acer laptops in different years and they've retained the same econo and budget quality to garner their budget badge.

    The last one I've owned had a nice GPU but once I started typing on it I realized what the mushy floating on an island description meant.

    It was one of the worst keyboards for a full size 15" laptop.

    The display was nothing to write home about either, it was glossy and contrast is poor.

    If Acer is serious about competing with Apple and start charging Apple prices. Don't think consumers are dumb, there's a reason Apple Macbooks are selling double digits %.

    You can also run Windows on Macs these days so how can Acer screw up so badly and still want to charge Apple prices.
  • futurepastnow - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    You are a spammer. Stop spamming.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I think your comment got relocated, but I deleted the offending comment. Thanks!
  • rdamiani - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    A 14" 768p screen is too low resolution to be useful with the enormous ribbon bars Microsoft has inflicted on the current versions of everything. It's like looking at your work through a keyhole.
  • ymrtech - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    please please PLEASE try and get an ASUS u36SD in for review.
    it is basically the same as this but from ASUS!
    it has it's pros and cons aswell but it has the same price and ASUS quality!
    it even has a dedicated nvidia 520M.
    i get a good 8-10hours of usage (notes/homework)
    6-8 hours of firefox web browsing
    4-6 hours of youtube
    and about 4-5 hours of HD video playback!

    at 800-1200$ (depends on model) and considering it weights 3.74lbs with the battery
    this laptop needs some publicity!
  • DanNeely - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I took a look at the notebook on Asus's website and they prominantly had this text displayed: "ASUS U36 the first 19mm thin laptop with Intel standard voltage CPU in the world" and was briefly dumbfounded.

    While going with the cheapest CPU available makes sense at the $800 price point, for $1200 not offering a ULV version that either is cooler and longer running; or that shifted the TDP to the GPU. Looking at the numbes in the wikipedia you you could get as high as a GT555M with at most needing a very slight GPU underclock/undervolt. This'd get you to a mid level gaming laptop while still having ultra-portable weight and battery life values when on the go.
  • fic2 - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    If you already have one and love it why do you need it reviewed? Needing validation of your opinions?
  • Anonymous Blowhard - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    "These notebooks just aren't adequate for mobile gaming beyond older games like Unreal Tournament 2004."

    Skyrim on an i5/HD3000, 1366x768 Low.

    Sure, it runs at "console quality" but it *runs.*
  • andrewrocks - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    The new Sony Z is $2k... But its 2.5 pounds, ssd, has great battery life and is very thin! 1080p is also an option on 13" screen!

    On paper these computers are stunning! Please review one AT, I'm curious if they can walk the walk.

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