Acer Aspire One Mini-Notebook
At a Glance
Acer Aspire One
A hands-on peek at the next big mini-notebook.
This full review replaces an earlier preview of the Aspire One.
Asus, watch your back. Oh, sure, the Eee PCs are cheap and tiny, but they've got serious competition waiting in the wings. Acer's Aspire One is priced as low as $400 for the Linux version, but it weighs in with enough features to make me consider leaving my high-end portable on the sidelines.
Why the conversion? For starters, it's fairly light and lean (weighing
(See PC World's video: Atomic Mini-Notebooks for a comparison of the Acer Aspire One and the MSI
The Aspire One is also fairly well constructed. The hard, candy-colored exterior (it comes in a number of hues; my favorite: Sapphire Blue) is fairly polished and feels solid to the touch--certainly tough enough to withstand being tossed in your bag. And a huge, well-secured bezel keeps the 8.9-inch, 1024-by-600-pixel display in place. The screen itself, though, is a little too glossy. Even with the brightness cranked up, you might find it tough to see outside. Then again, many full-priced, full-featured notebooks stumble with the same problem.
Now, when I think of the average netbook (as some people call this class of mini-notebook)--certainly ones in the $400 price range--the word that comes to mind is "compromise." You get Linpus Linux Lite, not Windows XP. You get OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Office. You get an 8GB hard drive and 512MB of RAM. It just doesn't sound like a great deal.
Then I used it. I was genuinely surprised
Unfortunately, we can't run WorldBench on
Another test I had to improvise, since WorldBench won't work here: battery testing. Sitting in your garden-variety coffee shop
Performance aside, you'll need some more room to grow. Aside from the standard-issue USB ports, ethernet jack, and VGA out, the Aspire One comes with two storage card slots. Why two? One is tasked for "storage expansion"--pop in an SD card, and
If you're not sold on the storage space--or on Linux, for that matter--Acer will also offer
Now another surprise is how much I like the keyboard. It's a great size and doesn't feel crunched up in order to hit a form factor. In fact,
OK, so the machine isn't perfect. The important part is that Acer gets more than enough right to hit the mark for basic use. And, considering the low costs to own this li'l laptop, you could get a lot of mileage out of the Aspire One. If you have simple needs, this is your notebook.