With so many different factors to consider when purchasing a laptop, finding the right one can be a daunting task. Portability and battery life are the current trends, along with value of course, which has brought about the recent surge of netbooks. However as I've said before – and I still stand by the statement – netbooks are great for simple tasks, but lack the power to be more than a supplement to a real notebook or desktop system.

Today we will be looking at the Acer Timeline 4810T notebook, a 14-inch ultra-portable that aims to bridge the gap between underpowered netbooks and bulky notebooks, while retaining the battery longevity found in the latest generation of netbooks. The Timeline has an incredible claimed battery life of over eight hours.

Acer's Timeline series comprises of four different notebook sizes: 13.3, 14, and 15.6 inches were the standard versions launched earlier this year, and most recently a smaller 11.6" version was also introduced during the Windows 7 launch week. Most specifications are shared among the group with a few variants like CPU speed, hard drive capacity and the optical drive option. What we'd like to establish here is that many of our impressions throughout this review will apply to other Timeline models, despite the obvious size implications.

The Timeline 4810T that we are testing today falls in the middle of the pack with its widescreen 14-inch LED backlit display that sports a 1366x768 resolution. The 4810T is powered by an Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 processor operating at 1.4GHz, 4GB of DDR3 memory (expandable to 8GB), a 320GB hard drive, Intel GS45 chipset with 4500MHD integrated graphics and Intel Wi-Fi Link 5100 that support Draft-N connectivity.

Acer will try to pull the 8+ hour claim using a 6-cell battery on the 4810T. Other standard features for this 14-inch laptop include a 8x SuperMulti optical drive, built-in webcam and multi-card reader. The Timeline's specs are only shy of a casual gaming mobile system because of the integrated graphics, but at $550 and 4.2 pounds I find it hard to complain.

We'll explore the Timeline 4810T in better detail next.