"Great price, build quality, surprising at every turn!"5.0 starson by UltraTwister
Pros: Build Quality - Sturdy metal materials. Thin and lightweight.
Keyboard - Backlit, easy to use, keys have great response.
Trackpad - Responsive. Multitouch gestures work better than most.
Performance - Fast, responsiveness and quiet.
Cons: Screen - Resolution is awful in 15-inch+ version. I'd recommend the 14-inch simply for better pixel density.
Screen Bezel - Not flush. Black boarder around panel.
Uniformity - Deck and lid are metal, bottom is plastic, albeit sturdy.
Summary: I stumbled upon this laptop about a month ago after doing some extensive research on laptops. I didn't want to spend too much money, but I also wanted some premium features like dedicated graphics and a slim design. Enter the Acer TimelineU M5-481TG-6814, which was $780 from Amazon. At first, I was a bit hesitant since Acer has never been a brand I've trusted. To me, it's always been synonymous with cheapness. However, I decided to take a risk and purchase it since it had many key features other laptops charged an arm and a leg for. Things like Intel's newest Ivy Bridge proccessors, Nvidia Kepler graphics, and an optical drive. Some features even caught me by surprise, like the backlit keyboard. However, now that I've spent almost a month with it, I can say I've experienced something I never have with any other laptop I've ever purchased: No feeling of buyer's remorse.
When I got this laptop, immediately what struck me was the design. It looked slim and nice enough in pictures, but in person I was much more surprised because of how good the weight felt in my hands and how slim it was, this coming from someone who also owned a (at the time) very slim Sony Vaio SA model by the way. While the whole design isn't unified materials, the bottom being sturdy plastic, the cool, metal lid and deck eschewed any worries I had about shoddy workmanship as it felt far more premium than what I was expecting. Even opening the lid has proved to be very sturdy despite the thinness. In fact, the overall look and feel has really taken me by surprise, as things I had been bummed out on previous laptops, like my aforementioned $900 Sony Vaio SA, like flexing while opening the lid, were nowhere to be found. I was even impressed by the audio quality. Nice, loud, and even sound.
Performance has also been stellar. In casual use, the laptop runs quiet and cool. Using the graphics card can make for some fan noise, but it's nowhere near the levels of other laptops, in particular the Sony Vaio SA series which at times sounded like it was getting ready for liftoff, and can easily be drowned out by the audio coming from the speakers. In most cases from being completely off, it takes about 20 seconds for it to boot into Windows, probably less if I didn't require a password. Resuming from sleep or hibernation is even quicker, and I always seem to be able to jump right in to using applications without any lag. Gaming has also been very smooth. Older games play without a hitch, and the newer games I've tried, like Star Wars The Old Republic, run at medium to high settings at native resolutions in very playable form. It's only when I have the laptop connected to my 1080p monitor that things can get a little slow, but then again for the kind of laptop this is (ultraportable), that's understandable. Battery life has also been within the realm of what Acer states. Most of the time that's about 4-5 hours if I'm browsing with WI-FI and Bluetooth turned on. Gaming nets me 2-3 hours, but that is a given as the dedicated graphics card is getting a workout. Finally, the keyboard is a pleasure to use and the trackpad is surprisingly accurate. Multitouch gestures work well, better than they ever did on my Sony and Asus, and keys click nicely and are spaced well enough.
Now despite what you may think from what I've wrote so far, not everything has been peachy. As much as a I like the design, the LG Shuriken display has a tame resolution that isn't bad, but isn't great like some of the other ultrabooks out there. Everything is bright and vivid, but it doesn't match the 1600x900 resolution of more premium models. Still, it's not awful and since most of the time the laptop is a good 20+ inches away from your face, I doubt anyone will be disappointed by it. One thing that can be called that is the black boarder around the display. It's a bit jarring when you notice it. A flush bezel would've made more sense. Also, as nice as the keyboard and trackpad are, the backlighting can be easily seen in certain angles from the slivers of the keys and can be pretty bright, and the trackpad is slightly off center, which seems like a strange design choice if intended to be that way. Also, sometimes when resuming from sleep the multitouch gestures stop working except for zoom. I'm not sure if this is just something I'm doing wrong on my part, but it seems that sometimes I can't two-finger scroll or do other multitouch gestures unless I reboot the computer.
Port selection is also a bit sparse, with only two USB 3.0 connections, and being aligned on the back of the laptop means when using wireless mouses that have dongles that connect to the USB, the connection can be spotty depending on use. Still, all of this is nitpicking at what is a really a fantastic, premium-laced bargain, and it by no means detracts from the overall impressiveness of this laptop. From the sturdy, premium-like build quality, to the robust features, fast, and quiet performance, this laptop is well worth your money if you don't want to spend $1,300+ on an upscale ultrabook or you're just looking for a great deal without sacrificing anything. Buy it. You'll love it...or at worst, like it. =)