Every business laptop out there these days is entering a difficult field full of very solid players. The world is already full of ThinkPads and Latitudes that have strong followers, cover price points overall, and are highly tuned to the needs of their workers.
My questions about lesser-known business laptops are generally: Where is this suitable? What customers are available for customers who do not receive ThinkPad service?
With the TravelMate line (especially the TravelMate P6), Acer seems to have two potential openings. The first, as TravelMate’s name suggests, is especially for frequent business travelers. It is lightweight, portable and sturdy at the expense of other qualities. The second is the price. Starting at $1,199.99, the TravelMate line targets more price-sensitive demographics than many business laptops considered “premium”. Specifically, I think TravelMate has succeeded in filling these two gaps. However, there are some other drawbacks that are difficult to recommend to the general audience.
An aspect of TravelMate that will greatly benefit mobile business users is port selection. Despite being very thin, this laptop can be equipped with USB Type-C (supports USB 3.1 Gen 2, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 and USB charging), and 2 USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 1s (one with powered off USB charging capability). There is. , 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 microSD reader, 1 combination audio jack, 1 Ethernet port (with trap door hinge), 1 DC-In jack for Acer adapter, 1 lock slot and optional smart card reader. The fewer dongles and docks you need to travel, the better.
Portability is another priority here and one of TravelMate’s other key features. At only 0.65 inches by 2.57 pounds, the TravelMate can be carried in a backpack or briefcase. Acer says the product has undergone numerous endurance tests against weight and pressure, drops, shocks, vibrations, and other hiccups that can occur during the day.
Another area that is important to some mobile professionals is the video conferencing feature. I found it to be a mixed bag here. TravelMate’s 4 mic array had no problem capturing my voice in both voice recognition and Zoom meeting use cases. Acer says you can even hear your voice up to 6.5 feet away. The webcam also generates great photos (though this device doesn’t support Windows Hello for easy login) and has a physical privacy shutter. But the speakers aren’t great. The music was small with thin percussion and non-existent bass.
TravelMate also includes some business-related features, including a TPM 2.0 chip and Acer’s ProShield security software.
However, in other areas of less business, TravelMate has some drawbacks. Shoppers looking for more than portability in the chassis can be disappointed. Most TravelMates are made from a magnesium-aluminum alloy, but they have a slightly plastic feel. The keyboard is sturdy, but the screen has a lot of flexibility. And there is aesthetics. The P6 is far from the prettiest computer you can buy for $1,199.99. It’s almost completely black with few accents (and what’s here is a drab gray). And the bezels around the 16:9 screen are quite thick by modern standards. Also, the 16:9 aspect ratio is going out of fashion for a reason. It’s cramped for multitasking, especially on a 13-inch or 14-inch screen, and the panel reached up to 274 nits in testing. Dark for outdoor use.
TravelMate has a slightly better look and feel than a budget fare. But it also looks and feels closer to the Aspire 5 than the best ThinkPad. Depending on the situation, you can purchase an Aspire 5 with the same specs as this TravelMate model for over $700. Another comparison: A nice consumer laptop that is much lighter than the TravelMate, the Swift 5 can be bought with similar specs for $999.99. This is to highlight that you are sacrificing some build quality (and extra cost) for TravelMate’s weight and business-specific products.
The touchpad isn’t my favorite either. One had a palm rejection problem. They didn’t get in the way of my work itself, but it was still anxious to see the cursor hopping around the screen while typing. Also, my device’s touchpad had a bit of string before the point of operation, so I needed to hear (and hear) what felt like two clicks with one click. And the off-center position kept right-clicking when left-clicking, and I had to consciously move it to the left to click with the right hand. Finally, the click itself is shallow and not the most comfortable.
I also didn’t like the power button. It includes a fingerprint sensor that works very well. But the button itself is stiff and very shallow. I know this sounds like a little stupid sound, but it’s really annoying and more cumbersome than turning on TravelMate in the morning.
The TravelMate model I received for review has sold out everywhere I’ve seen it at the time of this writing. The closest model is listed for $1,199.99 (which is cheaper at some retailers) and comes with a Core i5-10310U, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage. My device is the same, but I have a Core i5-10210U. These processors don’t have a big difference in performance, so testing here will give you a good idea of what to expect from that model. You can also buy a model with a Core i7-10610U, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD for $1,399.99. Both configurations run Windows 10 Pro and include a 1920 x 1080 non-touch display.
For office workloads like emails, spreadsheets, Zoom calls, TravelMate worked fine. Sometimes I heard the fans spinning when my load wasn’t too heavy, and the noise wasn’t loud enough to be an issue. This processor contains Intel’s UHD graphics rather than the upgraded Iris Xe graphics, so your system is unlikely to be suitable for gaming, video software, or other graphics tasks.
But what really impresses with TravelMate is the battery life, which is a very useful part for travelers. Running my daily workload at 200 nits of brightness, my system averaged 9 hours and 15 minutes of continuous use. That’s almost twice the budget the Aspire 5 earned for the same workload. It also surpasses the Swift 5 and the more expensive ThinkPad X1 Nano. If your workload is similar or lighter than mine, you should be able to bring this device to the airport or meeting all day long without attaching it to the wall.
However, one performance complaint is that it comes with bloatware. My device was pre-installed with all kinds of junk, including games (Amazon pinned to the taskbar) and other software like Dropbox. The most annoying thing was that it came with Norton, which always haunted me with annoying pop-ups and seemed to affect battery life as well. TravelMate lasted about an hour longer after uninstalling the program. It doesn’t take too long to get rid of everything, but I’m still morally procrastinating with the idea that over $1,000 laptops are loaded with too cheap crapware. What’s particularly problematic is what you see on a business laptop because it can expose users to cybersecurity risks.
The TravelMate line fills a very specific niche and is well populated. If you’re a frequent business traveler who needs a light fixture that has a lot of ports and lasts all day battery life, you’re willing to shop at the $1,199 price point and overlook the plain touchpad, dark 16:9 display. The P6 will be a better choice than the more expensive and heavier Dell Latitude or the shorter life and lack of ports on the ThinkPad X1 Nano.
That said, the P6 has enough drawbacks that many customers think it would be better to use a different laptop. Those who like the Acer brand will love Acer’s other products, especially those who don’t need business-specific security features. Swift 5 is lighter and looks better than TravelMate and has a better touchpad, screen and processor. And low-budget shoppers can find much of what TravelMate has to offer on an affordable laptop. The Aspire 5 and Swift 3 don’t have TravelMate’s battery or port selection, but the touchpad, audio (for Aspire) and appearance (for Swift) are improved. Of course, there are also plenty of other laptops that excel in almost every way and offer a 3:2 screen at this price point, from HP’s Specter x360 to Dell’s XPS 13.
Ultimately, TravelMate isn’t a bad laptop, but if it’s the best laptop for you, you probably know who you are.