The word “netbook” has now become the standard with which we describe miniature laptops with 7–10-inch screens, low-power components and budget pricing. Every hardware manufacturer seems to be testing the market with at least one model, and Acer’s first leap into this market is called the Aspire One. In terms of core specifications, there’s nothing very different about this device. The 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 1024x600 pixel screen, 120 GB hard drive and Windows XP as the operating system are all standard fare for netbooks now; it seems that every single model from every single company has the same specifications. The configuration is fine for basic productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, web surfing, and audio/video playback. Just don’t expect to run any heavy multimedia or graphics design programs.
However Acer has tried to differentiate its offering a little. It’s wider and deeper than the original Asus EEE PC, but is quite well styled, and available in multiple colors. The hinges are a little too weak and plasticky for our liking, but the angled design does give the Aspire One a unique look. They keyboard was cramped, but not too uncomfortable to type on. Thankfully, the [Shift], [Ctrl] and [Windows] keys are in the right places, and the arrow cluster is of a decent size. But the trackpad is a disappointment, with the left and right buttons on each side of the pad, rather than below it. This wouldn’t be such a problem in itself, but the trackpad is also much too small, and our fingers kept running off the edges when dragging things across the screen.
Expansion is taken care of by the three USB ports, Ethernet, and a surprise bonus: two card reader slots. One of them is a standard SD/MMC/MS/XD multi-format reader, and the other, labeled “Storage Expansion”, accepts only SD cards. We think this is a great idea, especially for netbooks with solid-state drives where storage space is severely limited. (full story)