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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  • Dainas - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Granted you admit its opinion based, but i find these Acer keyboards far nicer than chiclets.

    Those goddamn Apple keyboards and the legion of laptops trying to emulate them bare no tactile feedback. Their stiff ungiving action is actually very damaging to the fingers, as an author it is extremely important to me to be able to write dozens of pages in a sitting.

    Let alone to not get premature Osteoarthritis; as the harsh hard action these apple and wannabe Keyboards will surely cause after a decade of typing on what has all the give of steel slats.
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I'm surprised you hate the apple keyboards. I tried the MacBook air 13" for a couple weeks and found it pretty ok for typing lengthy missives on anandtech :) action was fairly forgiving and I hardly missed any letters while touch typIng

    No, the real enemy is the asus ux31. I'm goin to go out on a limb and say justin never tried that particular heap of shit. Action: INCREDIBLY stiff and short, and several of the larger keys didn't register when hit in particular places--including the enter key

    Horrible, just horrible. I suppose I could just be finding the apple keyboard better *relative* to that monster, but I tested out the MBA for quite a while and didn't find the issues you listed, personally

    Though I did end up returning it. Just slightly too expensive for me. I just slapped a ssd in my old laptop and am gtg for 2012 :)
  • Lifted - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I was also thrown by the "keyboard snob" attitude followed by how much he likes the Apple chicklet keyboards. WTF?

    You'll pry my Thinkpad keyboard from my cold dead hands!
  • Bluestealth - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Seconded!, I did try out my friends Mac Book Pro 13.3"... I was about to go insane. On the other hand my Lenovo X220 is just about perfect.
  • ThomasA - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I 'm a new X220 owner and agree the great keyboard being a strong asset. The whole unit is a pleasure to use/carry, and especially the IPS screen.
  • drwho9437 - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I currently have a X200 and yes I am a keyboard snob all my desktops have MX blue mechanical boards... While I find my X200 keyboard okay, I must say I got a T60 used off ebay. Keyboard is if anything even better. May well be an NMP or whatever. The feel is just that much more deep and thumpy than my X200 even. Regular laptop keyboards make me cry.
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I have a Travelmate 8172T with the same style keyboard and like it very much as well. Acer Travelmates are pretty decent in my opinion. Only drawback here for me would be the sub-par resolution. If I go to 13/14" I want at least 900 vertical pixel.
  • Samus - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I think its amazing that even in 2011, most manufactures can't get a simple keyboard right. What the hell is up with that?

    I couldn't agree more. Thinkpads, Latitudes and Macbooks have the best keyboards hands-down. Some HP laptops, like the DM1, DM4 and various Chicklet-packing Elitebook and Probook models have decent keyboards, but basically the two most important things about laptops are the keyboard and the screen, because if either (or both) have a single flaw, there isn't anything you can do about it because they are obviously integral components that can not be replaced.

    Manufactures: stop focusing on battery life, performance, duability, and price, and get the keyboard and screen sorted first!
  • MrSpadge - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    A while ago I wandered through a popular electronics market and tried out ALL their laptop keyboards. They were so horrible and sluggish. The only ones "OK" were actually the Macs.
    However, still worlds between them and my trusty old Thinkpad T61!

  • Stuka87 - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    I actually find the Apple keyboards to have pretty good feedback. They have a nice solid feel when they are down, and I never hit two keys at the same time.

    Although my current favorite keyboard is on my Precision M4600. I can type faster on that keyboard than most of my desktop keyboards even. But I dont find myself being annoyed or complaining when typing on my MacBook.

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