It's not the most feature-heavy laptop out there (or the prettiest), but for what it sets out to do, Acer's TravelMate P2 is a solid pick for anyone that needs a reliable office machine that can run Word or Minecraft. If you've got the cheddar, we'd suggest picking up one of the P2's that Acer sells to the public - with bigger screens and better processors if you know what you're looking for.
Stuff has spent a lot of time with Acer in 2023, most recently with the Predator Helios Neo 16 – a monster gaming laptop that left us wanting more. The next device we received from the company is something we weren’t expecting – the Travelmate P2. An entry-level notebook that’s all business. Seriously. Regular people can’t even buy this thing. There are TravelMate’s out there that you could buy if you really wanted. Those have better processors too.
If you must have the model we got to play with, the one with a 13th-gen Intel Core i3-1315U processor shoved inside, you’ll need to go through local distributor Mustek directly. Is it worth the hassle? If you’re a business, it could be. But for normies? Probably not.
TravelMate by name, only
The Acer TravelMate P2 isn’t messing around when it comes to business, judging from the no-frills design. And why should it? There are plenty of other ‘fun’ Acer laptops to pick from. The TravelMate P2 is for sitting on your desk in an office or on the boardroom table surrounded by other TravelMate P2s – because buying in bulk is cost-effective. We won’t hold the boring, grey-rectangle design against it. A black option would’ve been nice though.
A snazzy jacket isn’t what matters in a business laptop, you’ll want to focus on the deliverables. But you’ll need to look past the drab greyness of it all to see them. Like the sizeable collection of ports, which include: 2x USB-A (3.2), 1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x Ethernet, 1x headphone/mic combo, 1x HDMI and a microSD reader on the front to round them off. There’s also a full-sized (and surprisingly smooth) keyboard with well-spaced keys and a num pad. It’s the little things… or bigger things in this case, that make the difference.
The ports, keyboard, and left-leaning trackpad are surrounded by a brushed metal chassis for accidental-drop peace of mind. Domineering bezels skirt the 14in display with enough room to fit a FHD webcam in along the top. Acer’s stuck with the whole machine-worker schtick and kept the branding low-key to match that. There’s a logo under the display and a miniature one on its outer shell. If saw you saw this thing from across the room, you’d reckon it was just another office punter. That’s the idea, anyway.
We weren’t quite as keen on the TravelMate’s heft – stemming from the sizeable battery – which does lend itself to feeling more premium, but it doesn’t do much for the ‘TravelMate’ moniker. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s worth remembering if you’re a frequent traveller who takes tech companies at their word.
If you’re willing to do some digging (and have deeper pockets), you won’t struggle to find a TravelMate P2 that Acer does sell to the general public. It’ll have a better processor too, entering the Intel i5/i7 territory. You might even find one with an AMD Ryzen CPU under the hood. That being said, our review model’s 13th-gen Intel Core i3-1315U processor faired relatively well but maybe that’s because we didn’t push it beyond its bounds and make it do any intensive gaming or, God forbid, try to open any CAD programs.
What we did do, armed with an entry-level processor, an integrated Intel Xe GPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of NVMe storage, was the basics. That means playing around on Microsoft 365, browsing the web and squeezing in a Minecraft session or two. What? You thought we stared at Word all day, didn’t you? Minecraft aside, the TravelMate P2 dutifully handled the tasks we threw at it and then some. Multitasking was also possible, which we count as a win, but you’ll still need to keep an eye on how many Chrome tabs you open at once.
We were pleasantly surprised with the P2’s media performance. It’s not going to compare with more capable laptops, but Acer’s put in a half-decent set of upward-firing speakers that’ll divert your attention well enough until your headphones are charged. Our fondness didn’t hold when it came to video, which was hampered by the dim display. It does enough to get by in a fluorescent-lit office and won’t be an issue if you’re staring at, uh, spreadsheets all day. That’s what you business-types do, right?
We expected the 56Wh battery to perform well – with not much going on behind the scenes. We were not disappointed. It managed to last for a full day away from a power socket (or a particularly gruesome showing from Eskom).
This one does not spark joy
Our biggest disappointment was the 14in IPS display that Acer’s opted to include here – which hardly gave the brightness slider much work. We almost exclusively used the P2 at its max brightness, which was… fine, if a little lacklustre. Perhaps Acer’s predicting these to end up in some sort of Severance-like office where the sun don’t shine. Regardless, we’d like to see a few more nits here, Acer.
How else are we supposed to see the crisp numbers in their rows and columns from the 1920 x 1200 resolution? The 16:10 aspect ratio also means you’re able to see a few more rows at a time, so you’ll have no excuse for not meeting those KPIs. An increase from the standard 60Hz refresh rate would’ve been nice, even if it’s just bumped up to 90Hz, but that’s probably asking for too much from a machine with an i3 inside.
Acer TravelMate P2 verdict
Acer’s delivered a decent little office worker, even if it’s not the prettiest. It’ll get through a day of work without any issues – and can do it off just the battery if need be. If you’re the type to disregard looks for performance, consider the TravelMate P2. Just, you know, one of the ones you can actually buy. We promise you won’t mind the processor upgrades or larger display. If you’ve got the dough, of course.
If you’re already sold on the business-centric model we reviewed you’ll have to contact Mustek yourself or tell your company that the grunts need new workhorses.