Energized TravelMate notebook runs six hours on one charge

The TravelMate 7060, one of Acer
America's first portable offerings after acquiring Texas Instruments Inc.'s mobile
computing group, is a fairly impressive addition to the 166-MHz Pentium MMX notebook
market.


Most notably, it operated for more than six hours on a single lithium-ion battery under
normal use--a feat made possible by Acer's power management and suspend technology.


On the GCN Lab's maximum power drain test, the notebook performed an admirable 2 3/4
hours; most lithium-ion portables last only 1 1/2 to two hours.


But the TravelMate radiated so much heat that I definitely wouldn't have wanted it on
my lap all that time. On the upside, the battery recharged in two hours.


The features were similar to those of other notebooks: 256K secondary cache, 32M of RAM
expandable to 64M, 3G hard drive, 128-bit 1.2M graphics accelerator, slots for one Type
III or two Type II PC Cards, 10X CD-ROM drive, 16-bit sound card, speakers and integrated
33.6-kilobit/sec fax modem.


The 12.1-inch, active-matrix display had nice luminosity and scored well on the
GCNdexTM video test at maximum SuperVGA resolution of 800 by 600 pixels. But as a
multimedia machine, the TravelMate gave disappointingly poor sound quality.


The unit weighed about 71Ž2 pounds, not as heavy as some on the market but still a
considerable load to haul around on travel. The power management system reduced the need
to carry a second battery.


Among all the notebooks GCN has benchmarked, the TravelMate ranked in the middle of the
pack. In head-to-head comparisons with other 166-MHz Pentium MMX notebooks, its 3G drive
accessed files slowly, and the floating-point math score was low.


The TravelMate could boot automatically when opened. Standard software load was just
Microsoft Windows 95. There weren't many extras on this machine beyond Acer's power
management and suspend software. The auto-play for the CD-ROM drive did not work or was
disabled.


One of the nicer extras available for this unit was a Mini Dock, or port replicator,
priced at $500. Docking in took a little practice. There were jacks for external speakers,
microphone, joystick and stereo input, as well as the usual peripheral ports.


On the downside, although there were replicator ports for a printer and the external
floppy drive, the two ports couldn't be used simultaneously.


One had to be selected with a switch on the side of the replicator, near the modem and
phone ports.


The TravelMate is a solid portable for most apps. If long battery life matters to you
and the heat doesn't, it might be for you.


Karole L. Johns is a free-lance computer writer in Northern Virginia.


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