Purchasing a mid-range laptop is a decision that’s not to be taken lightly. A budget laptop is one that you pick up when you don’t have an option, and when it comes to high-end devices, you usually know what you want.
The mid-range segment, however, is where you go when you need a laptop and you’re willing to spend a little to get one that will last. You’re looking for a workhorse.
The Acer TravelMate P449 is one such device, and at Rs 44,000 and decidedly mid-range specs, it fits this definition perfectly.
So, is the P449 a workhorse that you would want?
Build and Design: 8/10
I like the look and feel of the P449. It feels entirely plastic, but of good quality. The angular design is understated and almost elegant. It blends in well with a crowd of laptops, but it’ll also stand apart on closer inspection, and I like that. It’s something I wouldn’t mind carrying around with me.
There are no shiny strips, erratic patterns or ridiculous colour schemes. Even the Acer logo isn’t very prominent. It’s placed on the top right corner of the lid and makes its presence felt without being too obvious.
Everything feels sturdy and solid and the hinge opens easily. There’s little wobble once it’s open, however, which is good.
If you put a little effort into it, the screen can flex rather alarmingly, but in general use, this won’t happen.
Overall, I like the look and feel of the device.
Keyboard and Trackpad: 8/10
The keyboard and trackpad are functional and comfortable to use. The key travel is good and the keyboard is backlit, making for a pleasant typing experience. I never missed a keystroke while typing.
The touchpad is also responsive and large enough for the device.
While the specifications of the device are good, I am a bit disappointed by some of the choices that were made with the device.
The processing power is provided by an Intel i5 6200U CPU and 8 GB of RAM. This is a sensible compromise between power and battery life.
However, Acer’s decision to use a hard disk instead of an SSD was a little disappointing. In my experience, an SSD does a lot more to make a system feel fast and zippy than any other component in a PC. There’s nothing wrong with the included 500 GB HDD of course, but I feel a 128 GB SSD would have been a better option, especially for a work device.
On the connectivity front, you get everything you could ask for. This includes USB-C, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, an SD card reader, an Ethernet port, HDMI, a VGA port and even a smart card reader.
However, while Acer put four regular USB ports on the device, only one of those is USB 3.0.
Another misstep is the screen. The 1366x768 resolution is tolerable, but as you’ll see below, its quality is suspect.
Oh, and you get a fingerprint sensor.
A laptop’s screen is vital to your computing experience, especially on a workhorse. You’re going to be staring at it the whole day and a pleasant screen makes for a relatively pleasant typing experience.
Two things are needed for this: A high resolution and good colour handling. The P449 fails on both counts.
The resolution of 1366 x 768 is very low on a 14-inch screen. It roughly translates to a PPI of just a little over 100, which is abysmal. I would really have loved to see a Full HD screen or, at the very least, a 1600 x 900 one.
It’s possible to overlook the screen resolution, but I can’t overlook the terrible quality of the display. Black levels and white levels are among the worst we’ve seen, and this includes the Rs 9,999 iBall Compbook Excellance and the Smartron t.Book.
Worse than this are the viewing angles. If you look at the display from any angle other than head-on, the screen will look washed out and the colours will turn negative. This is noticeable even if you tilt the screen slightly higher or lower than the optimum viewing angle.
Speaking of tilting, the one aspect of the screen that’s really good is its hinge, which lets the screen tilt by 180 degrees.
Performance was average and within the expected range for a device in this configuration. There is nothing that stands out. You can enjoy light gaming (GRID, CS: GO) and you won’t notice any dips performance when you open two dozen tabs in Chrome or do some image editing.
There is some slight lag when opening apps and Windows does take a little longer to start up than I’m used to, but that’s to be expected with an HDD.
Temperatures were always under control and the device never got uncomfortably hot.
Don’t’ get me wrong, this yawn-inducing performance is actually a good sign. The laptop is simply performing as expected.
Speakers are alright. They’re sufficiently loud for listening in a moderately quiet room and they do their job.
Again, nothing spectacular, just functional.
Battery Life: 6.5/10
The low-resolution screen paired with a sensible processor means that the battery life is quite good. Our standard battery test pegged this laptop’s battery life at 3 hours 53 minutes. In real world usage, the laptop happily got me through most of a work day (about 5-6 hours), which includes tonnes of email, web browsing (with upwards of 30 tabs open at any given time), typing in Word and light image editing.
At Rs 44,000, the laptop is a decent buy. If it wasn’t for the screen, I’d blindly recommend this to anyone who asks for a laptop in this price range.
I really liked this laptop. It’s a very sensible configuration with an understated design, which is something that’s actually a little hard to come by in this price range.
One can easily overlook the lack of an SSD or the single USB 3.0 port, but the screen is the deal-breaker.
This is a laptop that someone will expect to use for at least a couple of years, if not more. I’d rather not spend that time staring at a screen as bad as this one.