Saturday, May 08, 2010

Acer Aspire One Netbook

So I've had a few days now to play with my new netbook, and I thought I'd share some thoughts.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year you'll know that a netbook is essentially a small, cut-down version of a laptop…but after giving mine a thorough test drive, I discovered that it's not as 'cut-down' as you first might think.

I traded my desktop for the new netbook (because it's hard to carry a full sized desktop computer on a plane when you're moving), but a quick check online showed me that you can get this model (an Acer Aspire One) for around three hundred bucks…and you really do get quite a lot for your money.

For three hundred of your American dollars you get an Intel Atom 1.66ghz processor, 1 gigabyte of ram (upgradable to 2gig) a 160gb hard-drive, wifi, a built-in webcam and microphone, a multi-card reader, jacks for an external mic and headphones, a standard Ethernet port, 3USB ports, a VGA-out for connecting to an external monitor or projector and Windows 7 Starter Edition.

In fact the only glaring omission is the optical drive…but to be completely fair, an optical drive isn't necessary for what a Netbook is designed for. If you absolutely must have an optical drive, you can get an external USB one for around fifty bucks now, so it's really not an issue.

Given that a netbook is designed to give you everything you need rather than everything you want…the Aspire One performs beautifully. It's not exactly lightning fast and you won't be playing the latest 3D games on it…but it's good for just about anything else.

To put it through its paces, I tried it with Skype (which resulted in a flawless call where my dad commented on the clarity of the webcam picture), I streamed a HD quality episode of Doctor Who to it and it played back the video without a single stutter or chug…and it even managed to run the original Half-Life at well over 70 frames per second!

Surfing the net is just…well…surfing.

The battery life is also outstanding. For basic websurfing with the screen brightness at about half, I got about six hours before I got the 10% power warning, and for slightly more processor intensive tasks (such as watching a video with the sound up or playing a game) you can expect around four hours. Not bad considering our other laptop struggles to get to one and a half hours with everyting in power-saving mode. It also charges fast as well. You can go from 0% to about 90% power in less than an hour.

To be honest, the only thing that takes a little getting used to is the smaller screen. It's a 1024x600 widescreen monitor, and because it's a small screen it's still incredibly sharp (it looks just as good as my 26" desktop monitor running at 1440x900)…but just not having as much screen 'real estate' can feel strange at first….however, once you've been using the netbook for fifteen minutes or so, you don't notice any more (with the added bonus of when you switch back to you main computer the screen seems massive)

So, would I recommend the Aspire One to a friend?

Well, as a primary computer I'd have to say no, unless you're buying for a non tech-savvy parent or something who just wants something to send emails or do a bit of web-surfing on. As a secondary computer, I can't recommend it enough. I'd also highly recommend it for students. In fact, I'd say it's the perfect student computer…small, light, cheap with enough battery power to get through a day's worth of classes…and enough storage and horsepower for facebook and a decent sized iTunes library.

Basically, if you're after a new laptop, consider a netbook instead…and if you're after a netbook, you can't go far wrong with the Acer Aspire One.

(Damn I wish these companies would pay me to write this stuff)

1 comment:

MC Etcher said...

We're enjoying our little HP netbook. The small form factor is a plus and a minus.

Since my laptop died we connected the netbook to an old monitor we had lying around, and I don't even miss my laptop!