We’ve gone over the HP Mini 5101 before, but with that flashy, businessy feel and a great set of specs to match, we just can’t get enough of it. The machine is so nice that its beauty only serves to highlight its flaws, so forgive us if we look like massive complainers in this article.
- The trackpad is a smudge magnet.
- Setting up Windows XP can take as long as 45 minutes.
- Comes with the annoyingly paranoid McAfee anti-virus, which blocks apps like Firefox from connecting to the internet.
- Only has a four hour battery life, weak compared to the five hours of the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (which also comes with a six-cell battery).
- Flash video is nice, but QuickTime and YouTube clips are little more than slideshows with the Intel Atom N280.
In short, do your research before you get on the HP Mini 5101 bandwagon, and make sure that video performance and sub-optimal battery life won’t ruin an otherwise awesome netbook for you.
Since yesterday’s post about the fantastically modded Samsung NC10, something about the netbook intrigued us here at NetbookBoards. We tried to shake the feeling, but something still wasn’t right, so we did the only thing we could – review it!
Samsung’s flagship netbook is a cut above of its competitors in terms of price – Amazon sells it for $450 – but that extra $50-$100 gets you a heck of a lot, including a magnificent 6-cell battery. It may just be our favorite netbook yet, so if you’re on the market, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Since its release at the beginning of January, the new MSI Wind U120H netbook has been getting a lot of attention. It’s a nice machine, that’s for sure, but it has some flaws to take note of.
When we reviewed it a while back, we decided the netbook had some solid specs but was a little too expensive for its own good:
The real problem here is money. Sure, they added 3.5G, but they also added to the price tag. The netbook will stay alive for a good 3 hours, which is decent for standard use, but you end up paying for a 6-cell battery that should really be giving you two or three more hours of work time. Considering that the Wind U100 only costs $350 at Best Buy right now, I doubt it will be worth it to consumers to spend $250 more just for mobile connectivity.
Engadget seems to agree, noting that “the wide availability of similarly specced, strongly designed netbooks throws the Wind’s flaws into sharper relief.”
Regardless, the netbook does its job well and will be sure to please many-a-consumer whose tastes aren’t so viciously oriented as critics’.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
Here at NetbookBoards we’re excited to announce that our Reviews section is now open! Our first review is covering the Acer Aspire One you’ve heard so much about. Check it out here:
Also, feel free to browse our newly opened Forums. There isn’t much around yet, so be the first to let your voice be heard! We’ll be contributing as well so feel free to ask us some questions and we’ll answer them as best we can.