In pictures: Acer's 15in Ultrabook, the Aspire Timeline Ultra M3

Not only does this Ultrabook have a large screen, it also has discrete graphics and a DVD burner

  • Acer is the first vendor so far to come out with a 15in Ultrabook that also uses discrete graphics; and they're not just any old graphics either. The Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 uses a brand spanking new NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M graphics adapter that can even handle the likes of Battlefield 3. You could say it's an Ultrabook for gamers! The rest of the configuration features an Intel Core i5-2637M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a hybrid storage solution that consists of a conventional, 5400rpm, 500GB hard drive and a 20GB solid state drive.

  • At 15.6 inches, and with a weight of 2.1kg, the Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 isn't the easiest of notebooks to carry around, and you'll need a decent-sized bag to fit it in. It feels very well built though and you can barely tell that it even has a DVD burner in it. The screen is glossy and has a 1366x768 resolution.

  • It's also a stylish notebook and fairly plain in its design. The keyboard is comfortable to use thanks to crisp, responsive keys, and there is also a number pad. However, the palm rest could use a little more space on the left side -- it's a couple of centimetres narrower than it should be. It's not a backlit keyboard. The touchpad is huge and we didn't have any problems using it; although being an ELAN pad, it supports two-finger swipes instead of three-finger swipes, which we're used to.

  • The finish does tend to pick up fingerprints easily though and it will need regular cleaning unless you don't care for things like that.

  • All of the ports are located on the rear of the notebook, which can be a little inconvenient. You get three USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0; you also get full-sized HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and combination microphone/headphone ports.

  • It's not often that a vendor places a power button on the front of a notebook -- unless its a sliding switch -- but that's exactly what Acer has done here. You'll have to be careful not to accidentally press it. The speakers are located on the curved part of the chassis at the front and they aren't great if you listen to lots of stuff with low frequencies in it. Their location also makes them too easy to muffle if you're using the notebook on your lap.

  • The left side of the unit has a fair bit of action: it's where the DVD burner and the SD card slot reside.

  • The right side has no action apart from the cable lock facility.

  • When the access panel is removed, it exposes the RAM, hard drive and expansion modules, including the Atheros AR5B97 Wi-Fi module and the solid state drive that forms part of the unit's hybrid storage solution. Unfortunately, if you remove that access panel, you'll void your warranty.

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