Acer Aspire One


For our first review, we will begin with one of the netbooks that started it all: the Acer Aspire One.

Acer’s been there since the beginning, but didn’t fade away; as we reported on December 18th, the company led netbook sales as of Q3 this year.  The Aspire One has been a key in this success, and has shown itself to be immensely popular. Despite its age the netbook is still one of the best machines on the market.

Design

Quanta Computers manufactures the netbook in some pretty snazzy beach-themed colors: seashell white, sapphire blue, golden brown, onyx black, and coral pink.

And the Aspire One is so cool you may end up seeing it on the beach. Its rounded edges combined with its glassy surface make for a pretty sexy machine. The netbook manages some tastefully placed chrome accents as well. The shiny plastic around the screen cover is pretty, but offers a possible downside: glare may disturb you when computing outdoors or in a bright room.

The machine’s sturdy construction is also worth some praise; this netbook can handle being tossed into a backpack when you’re on the move. Check out a 3D view of the netbook here.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Aspire One is a 9″ netbook in a 10″ body; this gives it much more space for a keyboard and leaves it feeling relatively easy to use. Compared to a laptop, you may feel a bit cramped, but that’s always a tradeoff with netbooks. Acer does a good job of maximizing the space it has, so you won’t have much to complain about with the Aspire One.

A notable upside to the keyboard is the dedicated page up and page down keys. They offer the netbook a more accurate feel when navigating long webpages.

The touchpad features left and right buttons on the sides of the touch surface. The only other netbook around with this layout is the HP Mini-Note 2133. This setup has something of a learning curve, but if you get used to it it works fine.

Display

As is usually the case with LED backlit displays, the Aspire One is vibrant. Colors look good on the screen, but contribute to the mild glare problem. Expect excellent horizontal viewing angles; the vertical viewing angles top out at around 15 degrees from straight-on in either direction. This may sound limiting, but for normal use it won’t be an issue.

Performance and Battery Life

The Aspire One netbook was based on the platform of the Intel Atom: an Atom N270 processor, the Intel 945GSE Express chipset and Intel 82801GBM (ICH7M) I/O controller.

While newer netbooks are coming out with Intel Z530 CPUs, the Aspire One uses the slightly older but immensely popular Atom chip. Atom netbooks aren’t the most powerful on the market, but they’re more than adequate for internet browsing and word processing. The Aspire One can even edit photos with relative ease, so you shouldn’t ever find yourself too frustrated with the machine.

Officially the batteries are meant for up to 3 hours on a 3-cell and up to 7 on a 6-cell battery. Of course, this varies with the OS: Linpus Linux Lite is the optimal choice to minimize power consumption, whereas XP will run down the 3-cell battery in about 2.5 hours.

The Good

  • Has one of the better keyboards out there
  • Display is bright and usable
  • Sufficiently powered for everyday tasks
  • Looks great!
  • Decently priced: Now $350 at Best Buy

The Bad

  • No on-board bluetooth; you have to buy your own USB bluetooth adapter
  • Shipped SSDs have been criticized for slow speeds
  • RAM socket inaccessible unless you disassemble the machine; that means adding RAM is immensely difficult
  • Some minor glare issues with the display

Final Notes

The Acer Aspire One is a magnificent machine with only a few minor downsides. If you’re concerned about the lack of upgrade capabilities on the netbook, the massive Aspire One fanbase will be able to help you out. Several user-made applications have been developed by users to eliminate some problems specific to the Aspire One. One particularly notable bit of freeware is a program designed specifically to reduce fan noise from the machine, available here.

At NetbookBoards, we’re big fans of the Aspire One. Get out there and buy one.

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