Acer TravelMate 291
At a Glance
The $1399 Acer TravelMate 291 is one smooth operator. In our battery tests, the thin, dark TravelMate 291 lasted just over 5 hours on one charge. And with its 1.4-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M processor, the TravelMate 291 is fast, too. Our test unit scored 122 on our PC WorldBench 4 test suite, tying two other notebooks for fastest among similarly configured laptops.
The 291's best feature is a DVD burner located on the front. Though the burner can play DVD movies, too, the sound emitted from the speakers on the sides is pretty tame, suitable only for system sound effects and low background music. Still, this TravelMate has many other desirable notebook features, including Wi-Fi (via Intel's 802.11b mini-PCI radio card) complete with on/off switch; a 15-inch screen; three USB ports; and TV-out, FireWire, and parallel ports. All that's missing are slots for the latest memory cards, such as SD and CompactFlash.
The keyboard on this machine felt firmer to us than the one on the similar Acer Travelmate 290LMi, which we reviewed back in November. You get the same two reprogrammable launch buttons and overall fine layout, though we still would prefer to have the page up and page down keys placed vertically, not horizontally. The 291 weighs just 6.3 pounds, not counting the power adapter, which adds about a pound.
With a hard drive and RAM slots that are easy to reach behind panels held in place by a couple of screws, the TravelMate 291 should be a breeze to upgrade. (The optical drive is removable, too, but the vendor doesn't sell any other type of device--such as a secondary battery or hard drive--for the modular bay.) Acer doesn't offer a docking station for the TravelMate 291 either; if you really want one, you'll have to resort to a USB-connected port replicator. The user's documentation consists of one thin printed manual that covers the basics but not much more.
With its speed, long battery life, and attractive feature set, the $1399 TravelMate 291 makes an attractive portable for business and consumer needs alike.
Acer TravelMate 291
PC WorldBench score of 122, 1.4-GHz Pentium M, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional, 15-inch screen, 60GB hard drive, DVD-R/RW drive, built-in V.92 modem and 10/100 ethernet, touchpad pointing device, 7.2-pound weight (including AC adapter and phone cord). One-year parts and labor warranty; free, 24-hour daily toll-free tech support.