Netbook Review: Acer Aspire One
Believe it or not I am currently writing this article on an Acer Aspire One netbook. I picked it up today because sometimes I just don't want to lug around a full size laptop. I know that might seem hard to believe but it is true.
The first thing that you have to get used to with a netbook is the smaller keyboard. When reaching for the backspace key I often find myself hitting the +/= key instead. It's not a major issue but the keyboard does take some getting used to. It is also important to note that some keys are merged and accessible via the Fn button. These are yes most people do not use so it's not much of an issue unless you do a lot of writing (the Home and End keys require the Fn button).
The mouse pad on this machine has a multi-touch function though I have not experimented all that much with it. When I did fool around with it I was writing this article and caused the font size to grow and shrink based on my finger movements. The right and bottom areas of the mouse pad function as scroll sliders so you can easily scroll up/down or left/right with the mouse pad.
The mouse pad also has two buttons that are on opposing sides of the pad area. These function as left and right buttons but are a little bit on the difficult side as far as getting used to. I'm so used to hitting the buttons with my thumb on my laptop that hitting these two recessed buttons will take some time to adjust to.
When it comes to networking this little machine has both a wired jack on the side and built-in wireless 802.11 b/g. A small switch on the front right side of the machine allows you to quickly turn the wireless off so as to conserve battery life and to allow you to get some work done. Seeing as how this is a netbook one might wonder why you would want to disconnect yourself from the network but I can tell you from personal experience that there are always times when you want to shut it off, even if only to conserve power.
As for general specs I'll run them down quickly:
Intel Atom CPU N270
8.9" CrystalBrite WSVGA LCD (8MB Video RAM)
1 GB DDR2 RAM
160GB 5400RPM SATA drive
2 SD card multi readers
Windows XP Home ULCPC edition
Not too bad for a machine that retails for about $299.
All ports are on the sides of the machine and there are four LEDs on the main body right below the monitor. These LEDS are the generic ones you find on most laptops.
I find the screen to be very crisp at its native 1024x600 resolution. Most websites are handled well and the only real difference from this screen and most other screens is that you do not have the same amount of height at similar width settings. My previous machine would run at 1024x768 and the 168 pixel differences is not a major issue. This is due in part to the fact that most web designers concern them selves with width and not height.
There are some issues with the smoothness of moving a window around the screen but nothing to concern yourself with.
This particular model came with a 3 cell battery that lasts about 2.5 hours. You may be able to stretch or shrink that time depending on whether or not you use the built-in wireless and other issues.
All in all I consider this to be a very nice portable machine for casual use. I can bring this to meetings to take notes or even use it while in the passenger seat of a car or while on a train. It is very small and very light. It does not have the power features of a full size machine but if you are buying a netbook you are not buying it to be your main machine. The hard part will be keeping my daughter off of it!