At Computex, Acer showed off their first netbook run on Google Chrome OS. Most analysts agree that while Acer may be the first company showcasing such a netbook, other companies will soon follow suite due to the strength and flexibility of Google Chrome OS and also because Acer is not the only company to have struck a partnership with Google. Which company will be next?
Acer is releasing a new 11.6-inch netbook branded by Packard Bell. It’s has a 1366 x 768 pixel screen, runs Windows 7, and rocks an 8-hour battery for as little as €599 on October 22nd, the release date of Microsoft’s new OS.
134 freshman got their Acer netbooks this September, and it’s caught on wildly with students and teachers alike. Kids like the convenience of typing notes over scribbling them down. Students use a school network to check assignments and see recent grades posted to a private account.
Milton High School has a more engaged plan than other Vermont schools, and plans to get netbooks to all of their students by 2012. Students keep their netbooks for the entirety of their high school careers, turning them in during the summer.
A few issues have arisen with the program, one that any college student is familiar with – kids playing games and checking Facebook during class. Though a security plan is in action, Principal Anne Blake preferred to focus on the cause rather than the sympoms:
“How do we teach responsible use? …We can spend our whole future talking about blocking.”
Families pay a $25 insurance fee for the netbooks. The netbook program cost the school district $300,000 this year, $78,000 of which was for the machines themselves and half of which will be paid for by federal stimulus money. The rest was for wireless internet and other infrastructure necessary to uphold the netbook program.
The netbooks for 6-7 hours on one charge – just long enough for a school day.
Several reports have been alluding to a delay or cancellation of the project, prompting Acer to reaffirm its intentions. The new netbook will essentially be the traditional Windows XP Aspire One with a 10-inch screen, Atom CPU, and a different OS.
Rumors about the upcoming netbook have been around since Acer displayed a netbook running Windows XP and Android side-by-side at Computex Taipei last month. Acer’s Android Aspire One won’t dual-boot, but at least we know it’s on the way.
The Acer Aspire One has seen serious success in the netbook industry, often seeming flawless in a sea of weaker alternatives. However, its Achilles heel may have been discovered – the band known only as U2.
Reports are surfacing that the 8.9-inch netbook’s hard drive goes off the deep end when you play music too loudly. Some users at HardwareCult say that one song by U2 named Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me is doing the worst damage.
However, others haven’t been able to replicate the problem, so hopefully there isn’t a reason to freak out just yet. On the other hand, the words of those who discovered the problem are quite dire.
Tigre Marino says that the issue causes the drive to incur “complete catastrophic failure, taking with it all the user’s data” resulting in “read errors, ATAPI errors on the system log, and even logging Raw Read Errors on the hard drive’s SMART health monitoring system.”
“You’ll see,” he continues, “after some seconds, the hard drive LED will get stuck and the machine could freeze or get a BSOD. Lower the volume or plug in some headphones and the problem magically disappears.”
If the problem continues it’s likely that Acer will take note and start doling out refunds and try to adjust to the problem. It’s also possible that the users at HardwareCult got a bad batch of Aspire One netbooks, perhaps ones prone to excessive vibration. We’ll let you know how the whole mess turns out, but until then, play U2 at your own risk!
While 10-inch netbooks seem to be the standard these days, Acer has already gone in that direction and believes it’s time to move on. The newest Acer Aspire One netbook is rumored to come in an 11.6-inch screen size, using the Intel Poulsbo platform.
The Poulsbo has been introduced in the MSI Wind U110 Eco netbook, using an Intel Atom Z530 processor at a mere 4.5 W, compared to previous platforms that only managed 11.8 W.
The new Aspire One will offer a curious 1366×768 resolution and a wide 16:9 aspect ratio.
It seems like Acer wants to capitalize on the low price and portability of netbooks while eschewing the tiny screens the computers have been criticized for. Acer’s wide variety of tweaked netbooks have attracted the money of thousands, so this new release is surely one to be taken seriously.
Also of interest to Aspire One users may be the recent guide on Xfce tricks to maximize these netbooks’ potential.
In a recent interview with Laptop, Acer – creator of the Acer Aspire One – hinted at some interesting prospects for the future. As the firm with the biggest share of the PC market in 2008, it can certainly afford to push the envelope in terms of what’s possible.
The first thing Acer mentioned was more mobile broadband/netbook deals. Previous netbook deals, such as those by Radioshack or AT&T, offered a $99 machine and mobile broadband in exchange for a mobile broadband contract of two years. Acer wants to continue this plan, but is also investigating charging for hourly rates of mobile broadband, stating that most consumers don’t use 3G enough to justify paying $50 a month.
Another hint dropped by Acer involved the NVIDIA Ion platform, which promises to boost netbook graphics in a groundbreaking way. Acer hinted at a 2H09 release, saying it will be “looking at this technology [Ion] much closer in second half 2009 products.” Sounds good to me.