Acer Aspire One Netbook review
We take Acer's natty netbook out for a test drive with mixed results
(by dogmatique, 2nd Sept 2008)
I took delivery of two Acer Aspire One's the other day (One World, One Communication!, meh) - the XP, 120 gig version.
Very nicely designed pieces of kit - screen is truly fantastic quality, and it's very snappy too with it's Atom and 1GB memory. It even manages to play HD video content without any jerkiness, which I was very impressed with - certainly makes good use of the great screen.
That great screen comes at a price though - awful, awful tinny speakers. Just dreadful.
At least the Eee pc 701's made up for their lack of screen real estate with half decent speakers either side of the screen.
Having said that, my mobile pc video demands are travelling, so headphones will always be used anyway, and if I'm in a hotel room, I'll be plugging in my travel speakers, just like I did with the eee pc.
Keyboard is as the screen - excellent - first time I've been able to comfortably touch type on a mini pc / netbook, whatever you want to call them.
Major gripe number two comes as a result of this great keyboard though - seeing a pattern here?
The mousepad has so little room at the bottom of the wrist-rest that they've made the truly terrible decision to place the left and right mouse buttons at either side of the mouse pad, rather than below.
Use of these buttons requires re-learning how you use a mouse pad, and it is fucking rubbish - a major inconvenience that really should have been reconsidered, and hopefully will with later releases.
Thankfully, a bit of multi-touch, and side-pad scrolling partly alleviates this, but not that much, and is much more of a netbook faux pas than the widely criticised (too much so, in my opinion) Eee pc's rocker-click single mouse button.
Fortunately I have a Logitech nano wireless mouse which works wonders, but is an unfortunate addition to my bag load, which should really be reserved for when I'm carrying around the big big Mac Book Pro 17" and proper work, rather than casual browsing / email.
The final - and biggest gripe is the woeful 3-cell battery that comes supplied. The first thing you think when you get it out of the box is, "oh fuck, this is a bit light - it ain't going to last anytime, and it doesn't.
It's about the weight of three AA batteries in an enclosure, and boy does it show. You're only going to get a couple of hours out of it with light use. I watched an episode of Diggnation in HD Quicktime from a full battery, and a couple of minutes before the end of it I was given a battery warning.
The show is only 45 minutes long.
Arsecakes. Real drawback on an excellent machine. 3 cell? Are you fucking kidding? That's a significantly worse battery time than my iPhone! And that takes some trying.
Rumours are that the later editions will be better, but FFS, why ship something that lasts less time than an unchained bike in Peckham?
There are supposedly 6 cell batteries coming to market, but at a cost of about 80 quid, which suddenly makes your cheap netbook a lot more expensive prospect - just to achieve "normal" use.
And no doubt it'll be a big brick of a thing that bloats out the lovely lines of the product as designed.
Oh, and it's very annoying to note a simcard slot underneath the battery that serves no purpose - it's there, but there's no hardware to support it. Double arse. Another early adopter doh! So my mobile dongle is another piece of kit to carry around to bulk out the baggage.
Conclusion: Much more usable than the Eee pc, great screen, great keyboard, let down seriously by speakers, the mouse, and most importantly - the battery.
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