Acer TravelMate 8100 'Sonoma' notebook

Feature-packed and fast - and a bargain too?


Review Acer must be making life very difficult for other notebook manufacturers. The company has built a solid reputation for manufacturing high-quality portables at very attractive prices, and the TravelMate 8104WLMi is no exception, writes Riyad Emeran.

Acer TravelMate 8104WLMiThe 8104WLMi is Acer's first 'Sonoma' notebook, and it's a pretty good first effort. The brushed silver finish is a bit samey these days, but it still looks good - having the Acer logo placed in the corner of the lid rather than the middle is also commendably different. With dimensions of 36.3 x 26.6 x 3.4cm and a weight of 2.8kg, the 8104WLMi just about falls into the portable notebook category. It doesn't feel like too much of a burden when carried around.

Opening the lid reveals Acer's trademark curved keyboard. Some people hate them, but I quite like the curve. The action of the keyboard is pretty good, although not up to the standard of an IBM ThinkPad - is anything? There's a little flex in the keyboard when typing at speed, but not enough to be annoying. The travel on each key is long enough, and the break and spring back are both well weighted. To be honest, though, I can't be too critical of the keyboard since this is a pre-production sample.

Below the spacebar is a large touchpad, presented in a widescreen aspect ratio to match the screen. There are two selector buttons, along with a scroll button. As touchpads go, there's nothing wrong with this one, although I wish that Acer would go down the trackpoint route.

Acer has pushed the boat out when it comes to the screen. The 15.4in widescreen display has a resolution of 1680 x 1050 which gives you more display real estate than most desktop screens do. You can never have too much screen acreage, and working with the Acer is a joy, especially if you need to have multiple windows open all the time.

But since this is a Sonoma notebook, much of the interesting stuff is under the hood. Beating at the heart of the 8104WLMi is a 2GHz Pentium M CPU, backed up by 1GB of 533MHz DDR 2 memory. The PCI Express support in Sonoma is highlighted by the inclusion of a 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X700, one of the fastest mobile graphics chips available outside desktop replacement notebooks. The faster Mobility Radeon X800 and Nvidia GeForce Go 6800 chips require significant cooling and power, so appear only in large, deskbound machines.

Acer TravelMate 8104WLMi

Acer has decided not to make use of Sonoma's Serial ATA support, and installed an Ultra ATA hard disk instead. That said, it is a 100GB drive, so it should keep even the most space-hungry user happy. If you do want to offload some data it won't be too much a problem - Acer has also included a DVD writer which will burn to DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD-RAM and CD-R/RW.

Next page: Verdict

Other stories you might like

  • Tencent admits to poisoned QR code attack on QQ chat platform
    Could it be Beijing was right about games being bad for China?

    Chinese web giant Tencent has admitted to a significant account hijack attack on its QQ.com messaging and social media platform.

    In a post to rival social media platform Sina Weibo – a rough analog of Twitter – Tencent apologized for the incident.

    The problem manifested on Sunday night and saw an unnamed number of QQ users complain their credentials no longer allowed them access to their accounts. Tencent has characterized that issue as representing "stolen" accounts.

    Continue reading
  • Carnival Cruises torpedoed by US states, agrees to pay $6m after waves of cyberattacks
    Now those are some phishing boats

    Carnival Cruise Lines will cough up more than $6 million to end two separate lawsuits filed by 46 states in the US after sensitive, personal information on customers and employees was accessed in a string of cyberattacks.

    A couple of years ago, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold, the Miami-based biz revealed intruders had not only encrypted some of its data but also downloaded a collection of names and addresses; Social Security info, driver's license, and passport numbers; and health and payment information of thousands of people in almost every American state.

    It all started to go wrong more than a year prior, as the cruise line became aware of suspicious activity in May 2019. This apparently wasn't disclosed until 10 months later, in March 2020.

    Continue reading
  • India extends deadline for compliance with infosec logging rules by 90 days
    Helpfully announced extension on deadline day

    India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the local Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) have extended the deadline for compliance with the Cyber Security Directions introduced on April 28, which were due to take effect yesterday.

    The Directions require verbose logging of users' activities on VPNs and clouds, reporting of infosec incidents within six hours of detection - even for trivial things like unusual port scanning - exclusive use of Indian network time protocol servers, and many other burdensome requirements. The Directions were purported to improve the security of local organisations, and to give CERT-In information it could use to assess threats to India. Yet the Directions allowed incident reports to be sent by fax – good ol' fax – to CERT-In, which offered no evidence it operates or would build infrastructure capable of ingesting or analyzing the millions of incident reports it would be sent by compliant organizations.

    The Directions were roundly criticized by tech lobby groups that pointed out requirements such as compelling clouds to store logs of customers' activities was futile, since clouds don't log what goes on inside resources rented by their customers. VPN providers quit India and moved their servers offshore, citing the impossibility of storing user logs when their entire business model rests on not logging user activities. VPN operators going offshore means India's government is therefore less able to influence such outfits.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022