The Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 series includes a pair of 14- and 15-inch laptops powered by dual-core Intel processors (i3/i5/i7) and bodies the manufacturer’s aspiration for combining mobility (long battery life, manageable size, lower power consumption, lower noise levels) and high performance (demanding games, video editing).
In today’s Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 ultrabook review we are going to discuss the top-shelf configuration of the M5 series.
Continuing the trend of clear and minimalist design, the Timeline Ultra M5 ultrabooks have a stylish industrial look and feel firm and reliable.
The anthracite-hue lid and the upper surface of the chassis are made of brushed aluminum-magnesium alloy, while the base is black matte plastic with a rough texture that matches the metal upper surface well and gives the laptop a grippy feel.
The M5 ultrabook measures 13.4 x 9.7 x 0.81 inches and weighs 4.1 pounds, thus being pretty portable and easy-to-carry, however, its weight brings it to the heavier side of the ultrabook category.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Aspire M5’s island-style keyboard sports large flat keys made of black matte plastic. The “Enter”, “Backspace” and right “Shift” keys have a comfortable size and are hard to miss.
The keyboard is blue-backlit, and the entire layout is notable for a generous amount of travel, which together deliver an amazingly comfortable typing experience even in dim rooms.
The Acer’s ultrabook under review comes with a large 3.8 x 3-inch Synaptics touchpad giving the user plenty of real estate to navigate documents and Web-pages. The touchpad’s surface is smooth and responsive. It allows for an easy glide of the finger and supports various multi-touch gestures including two-finger scrolls, four-finger flicks and pinch-to-zoom.
Display and sound
The Aspire M5 features a 14-inch glossy display (made by LG) with a standard resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. The screen itself looks pretty good with accurate colors and solid off-axis viewing angles. However, the user will need to make some adjustments to get the best picture, as vertical viewing angles are somewhat narrow.
Fortunately, horizontal viewing angles are much wider.If the display and screen is standard for Acer and nothing surprising, the audio quality is especially impressive delivering excellent sound experience even at the highest volume setting.
Thanks to Dolby Home Theater v4 technology the user can enjoy powerful beats or smooth melodies with some minor bass and decent full-bodied sound.
Ports and connectivity
In terms of connectivity, small and thin Acer Aspire TimelineUltra M5 series comes with two USB 3.0 ports (Note: USB 3.0 allows charging external devices even when in sleep, hibernation or off. Furthermore, transfer speeds are up to 10-400 times as fast as older generations of USB.) and one USB 2.0 port, an Ethernet jack for connection to a wired network, a Kensington lock slot and an HDMI socket.
All those connection ports are found in the rear. The left side of the machine is reserved for the M5’s tray-loading DVD drive, while the right one has a card reader supporting SD and MMC cards, and a combination headphone/microphone jack. The power button is located on the front of the machine.
The M5 family features a WLAN module supporting 802.11 b/g/n standards. Acer Always Connect option connects the ultrabook to the Web in 2.5 seconds using remembered Wi-Fi hotspots, and the M5 gets online instantly after waking from sleep. A Bluetooth 4.0 module is also not forgotten here.
The advanced integrated 1.3 megapixel HD webcam using Acer Crystal Webcam software provides high pixel density and captures stills and video at 24 frames per second. Fans of face-to-face chats with friends and family will really enjoy crystal-clear video image quality.
The Acer M5 ultrabook belongs to the multimedia category. The processor, video card and hard drive allow it to run even demanding games and edit video. It can easily cope with everyday tasks such as word processing, Internet browsing, Skype, chat, DVD playback, etc., and adapt to all user’s computing needs.
The Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 comes with the following specs. At the entry level, the M5 is powered by a second-generation Sandy Bridge Core i3 CPU, along with 6GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive on board teamed up with a 20GB SSD for faster boot-ups (the M5 series excels with a speedy 17-second startup). The base model does not include discrete graphics.
Our review model comes with a third-gen Intel Core i7 CPU based on latest Ivy Bridge technology. It is clocked at 1.9 GHz, and the frequency can be increased up to 2.8 GHz (both cores) or 3 GHz (single core). Being a ULV processor, the Intel Core i7 can operate at very low voltage, resulting in lower power consumption. All things considered, it delivers amazing performance and stunning visuals so users can experience their movies, photos and games smoothly and seamlessly.
Being a powerful addition to the Acer’s machine, a 256GB SSD is lightning fast and always reacts without any delays. The read and write speeds are respectively 500 MB/s and 400 MB/s.
There are two graphics cards in the ultrabook: the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 and the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE with 1GB of discrete video memory. The Nvidia card comes in use whenever the performance of the Intel chip does not suffice – for example when playing demanding games with futuristic, visually-stunning graphics. The switch happens automatically in the background. Thanks to that dedicated GPU, the M5’s 3DMark06 benchmark score is nearly double what one can get from a typical Ivy Bridge device with integrated HD 4000 graphics.
The manufacturer claims its Timeline Ultra M5’s non-user-replaceable battery will last for up to eight hours on a single charge and rates it for about 1,000 charge cycles. In reality the battery lasts a little over five hours with WiFi on, the brightness fixed at 65 percent and a video looping off the hard drive. During the baterry test consisting of just continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi, the M5 lasts about 6.5 hours which is on a par with the thin-and-light average (6:29), and much longer than the Dell Inspiron 14z (5:35).
Acer has managed to construct an ultrabook that is very quiet in everyday use. Those who use the notebook only for office work, Internet browsing, watching DVDs, and communication, will hardly notice that it has a fan.
Software and warranty
The Aspire M5 line comes released in USA with a good deal of software installed: CyberLink’s MediaEspresso decoder (converts media files to a format that is supported by mobile phones, tablets and/or game consoles.), Evernote, the Fooz Kids gaming platform, a trial of McAfee Internet Security Suite for protection of the ultrabook, Nook for PC, Norton Online Backup and Skype 5.5.
Additionally, the discussed model features a handful of Acer’s own apps, including Backup Manager, ePower Management, a gaming hub, Instant Update Service, Theft Shield (helps protect user’s data by allowing them to disable their lost or stolen Ultrabook remotely from anywhere in the world), Updater and clear.fi (a slick multimedia player that lets the user browse and play their music, photo, and video files and even share them to social networks).
In USA users can buy the Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 ultrabook comes with a 24-month carry-in warranty. On its support Web site, the user can browse FAQ and other technical issues. Technical support is available online, over the phone, or by fax, though in case of hardware failure the unit has to be brought to a service center for repair. A 3-year warranty extension can be bought for some extra money.
The best-priced option in USA can be found with the entry-level Timeline Ultra M5 starts at $650 with prices topping out at $1,000 for the top-of-the-line models coming configured with most advanced fast-performing processors and drives.
Acer definitely succeeds in combining various requirements of a notebook in one device, making the Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 a strong contender in the ultrabook realm: it is visually appealing, in most cases quiet and energy-efficient, highly mobile and enduring, capable of satisfying most multimedia needs and playing games at higher settings.
Moreover, the prices are more than reasonable, making the Timeline Ultra series suitable for any taste and budget.
Author – UltrabooksReview