It’s been a while since we reviewed the 15-inch TravelMate P658 and now we will take a closer look at the 14-inch TravelMate P648. Will it hold up to the legacy of its 15-inch sibling, which we liked so much, or the 14-inch form factor has taken away some of the features?
At first glance, the P648 doesn’t seem all that different from its bigger brother, aside from dimensions and weight, of course. But given the price range of the laptop, we are pretty interested on how the laptop will stand against the already renown Lenovo ThinkPad T-series, more precisely the T470. Sporting an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU crammed inside a relatively portable chassis with plenty of connectors, upgradability options and a good IPS panel suitable not only for business work but for multimedia as well. But how about battery life, input devices, etc. – questions every business users tend to ask first when looking for such laptop. We find out in the full review below.
The package contains the standard AC adapter, power cord and the laptop itself.
Design and construction
Similar to the bigger model, the TravelMate P648 sports a plastic finish with carbon fiber-reinforced base. The latter keeps the chassis pretty solid, sturdy and lightweight as possible. Weighing at just 1.7 kg and measuring around 21 mm in height, the 14-inch TravelMate offers impressively sturdy base and lid.
First, let’s get the lid out of the way. It has anodized-like finish with Acer’s logo in the upper right corner and a sign saying the chassis is made of carbon fiber so it lets customers know from afar. We definitely believe that as the lid appears to be extra rigid – doesn’t bend at all and it’s fairly resistant to torsion as well. On the other side of the lid, you will find the 14-inch matte screen with quite thin side bezels and normal-sized lower chin and upper bezel. They sport soft-touch matte black finish, which is a cool finishing touch in our eyes. The whole lid is supported by two small metal hinges that provide smooth and linear travel allowing opening the lid with just one hand and surprisingly, the lid isn’t bending in the center of the lower chin at all. As for the bottom of the chassis, it uses the same material as the rest of the casing but also has some grills for extra airflow, a connector for the docking station and a dedicated service hatch providing easy access to some of the internals for upgrade.
Although the sides aren’t exactly super thin in our book, they provide quite the I/O set – RJ-45 for LAN connectivity, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, USB-C 3.1 with Thunderbolt support and a 3.5 mm audio jack on the left. This leaves the right side with only two USB 3.0 connectors and the DC charging port. The SD card reader is placed at the front near the left edge and at the back, you will see the main grill for dispersing the heat.
The interior continues to surprise with exceptional sturdiness not giving under our attempts to twist or bend the material. Virtually no visual deformation when pressed at the center of the keyboard or the palm rest. Speaking of the keyboard, it’s okay but definitely not the best we’ve seen from Acer. We didn’t like the fact that it’s shallow and we found ourselves questioning whether or not a certain key was pressed, although the clicky feedback of each key press helped to some extent. They’ve used the same keyboard on the 15-inch model, which we’ve criticized for the same issue. The touchpad, on the other hand, is excellent – good gliding surface, responsive, accurate and has comfortable mouse buttons. The fingerprint reader would have been better if it was somewhere else but you can definitely get used to it.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
Most of the upgradable hardware can be accessed via the service lids but in order to change the battery, for example, a teardown is required. The storage and memory can be easily accessed.
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
The 2.5-inch HDD, which in this case is missing, can be accessed via the service lid while the M.2 SSD slot is hidden under the hood. In our case, it’s Lite-On 256GB SATA SSD.
|M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1||256GB Lite-On M.2 SATA SSD (2280)||Buy from Amazon.com|
|2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot||Free||Buy from Amazon.com|
Interestingly, the motherboard holds 4GB of DDR4-2400 soldered RAM chip and a slot for expansion. The reviewed unit feature 4GB of DDR4-2400 from SK Hynix making up for 8GB of memory. You can go up to 20GB (4GB soldered + 16GB additional).
|Slot 1||SK Hynix 8GB DDR4-2400||Buy from Amazon.com|
The Wi-Fi adapter is located right next to the 2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot and it’s Intel 7265NGW.
The battery is rated at the respectable 54Wh.
The notebook features a 14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS display from AUO with model number B140HAN01.3. The pixel density is 157 ppi and the pixel pitch is 0.161 x 0.161 mm and can be considered as “Retina” from at least 56 cm.
Viewing angles are excellent.
We’ve recorded a peak brightness 276 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 270 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 11% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is almost optimal – 6700K and goes up closer to the standard 6500K when going along the grayscale. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (47% brightness) in the image below.
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. But in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for web browsing, multimedia and office work, a deviation of 3.0 is acceptable. The contrast ratio is high – 1350:1 before calibration and 1160:1 after calibration.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The display covers 95% of the sRGB color gamut, which is an excellent result.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 20 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
Our equipment didn’t detect any pulsations throughout all brightness levels so it’s safe to use for long periods of time.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
Once again, the TravelMate comes with an excellent IPS panel suitable not only for general office work but for multimedia as well. It has wide sRGB coverage, high contrast, decent maximum brightness and doesn’t have PWM across all brightness levels.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Acer TravelMate P648 configurations with 14.0″ AUO B140HAN01.3 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
The loudspeakers appear to be a bit quiet and there are small deviations in the low and medium frequencies.
The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region
Acer TravelMate P648-M technical specifications table
Acer TravelMate P648 configurations
We used the pre-installed Windows 10 for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Acer’s official support page.
The system incorporates a relatively big battery (for a 14-inch machine) rated at 54Wh and unsurprisingly, the endurance ratings according to our tests are sky high. Beating its 15-inch sibling, the TravelMate P648 storms in with exceptional web browsing score and probably even more impressive video playback time. And even though, this isn’t enough to beat Dell’s Latitude 14 7480, it sure does leave the stock Lenovo ThinkPad T470 configuration far behind.
Of course, all tests were performed using the same settings as always – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature turned on.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
CPU – Intel Core i7-7500U
The Core i7-7500U is part of the latest Intel Kaby Lake generation of CPUs built upon 14nm manufacturing process – or 14nm+ as the company markets – and should offer marginal performance gains over the Skylake generation while improving overall power efficiency. It’s a direct successor to the Core i7-6500U (Skylake) and Core i7-5500 (Broadwell) but opposed to previous architecture refreshes, the Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U is bringing much higher clock rates. Now the chip is clocked at 2.7 – 3.5 GHz (compared to the 2.5 – 3.1 GHz on the Skylake Core i7-6500U) and still adopting the 2/4 core/thread count using the HyperThreading technology with a maximum 4MB cache.
However, the Core i7-7500U’s TDP is still rated at 15W including the iGPU and dual-channel memory controller that supports DDR4-2133, LPDDR3-1866 and DDR3L-1600. And as far as the iGPU is concerned, it integrates a slightly improved Intel HD Graphics 620 clocked at 300 – 1050 MHz, which is slightly higher than the iGPU on the Core i5-7200U (300 – 1000 MHz).
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-7500u/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
GPU – Intel HD Graphics 620
Intel’s HD Graphics 620 is a direct successor to the integrated HD Graphics 520. The latter is found in ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors from the 6th Generation (Skylake) of chips while the former is in the 7th (Kaby Lake) generation of CPUs.
Intel’s HD Graphics 620 uses the GT2 version of the graphics chip with 24 EUs (Execution Units) reaching as high as 1050 MHz and it has a base frequency of 300 MHz. However, the maximum operating frequency depends on the CPU, whether it’s the Core i3-7100U or the Core i5-7200U or the Core i7-7500U. Since the iGPU doesn’t have a dedicated memory – or eDRAM for that matter – it uses the available RAM on the system which is 2x 64-bit DDR3 or DDR4.
The TDP depends on the CPU model but it’s usually equipped with a SoC rated at 15W including the memory controller. Its performance should be enough for multimedia activities, light applications and gaming on really low resolution and minimum graphics settings.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-620/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
The CPU and GPU stress tests aim to help us assess the overall stability and performance of the cooling system in the long run and not represent real-life usage. We test all of the devices we review.
And as usual, we kicked things off with 100% CPU stress testing for about an hour. Interestingly, the CPU wasn’t able to sustain its maximum operating frequency for two active cores and ran a tad slower than it should be – 2.9 GHz. Temperatures were relatively high as well – 80-81 °C. Temperatures like these are usually intrinsic to quad-core chips in gaming laptops.
However, after we turned on the GPU stress test, the CPU’s frequency didn’t drop at all. Temperatures were sustained and the iGPU was running flawlessly.
We’ve also measured the surface temperatures – it appears that the center of the keyboard tends to get a little bit warm under load but this shouldn’t worry the general user as the cooling system is perfectly capable of handling everyday tasks and simple web browsing.
The good news is that the TravelMate P648 is no different from its 15-inch sibling and the rest of the TravelMate family. Unfortunately, though, with the pros, the TravelMate inherits the cons as well. In this case, the rather shallow keyboard and the use of an M.2 SATA SSD in our configuration instead of PCIe NVMe drive. Given the price point, the latter would be more adequate. And with this, we ran out of issues to complain about.
All the requirements for an upper-mid-range business notebook are met – sturdy and light chassis, good touchpad, long battery life, stable and silent operations, plenty of I/O (including USB-C Thunderbolt 3) and a good display. The latter is, in fact, suitable for multimedia as well due to its high contrast, wide sRGB coverage and decent maximum brightness. Moreover, PWM isn’t used for regulating luminance making it suitable for long hours of work.
So is it worth your hard-earned money? Definitely yes! It even beats its direct rival the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 in a number of areas with the most prominent ones being screen quality and price.
- Sturdy and portable chassis
- Good touchpad
- Long battery life
- High-quality IPS display suitable for multimedia as well
- No PWM across all brightness levels
- A bit shallow keyboard
- Some units ship with M.2 SATA SSD instead of PCIe NVMe drive