For most of the last six weeks, I’ve been tethered body and mind to a netbook computer, a shiny white Acer Aspire One D150.
The great news first: Acer is on a roll in the current netbook space and offers a number of netbooks that vary by screen size and other basic configuration details. The review unit supplied to me was an Acer One with a 10.1-inch LCD screen, an Intel Atom n270 processor with a clock speed of 1.6 GHZ, 1GB of DDR2 memory, a 160GB hard disk drive, integrated 802.11 b and g wireless networking transceiver as well as a 10/100 local area network connector, and an integrated Bluetooth transceiver round out this mighty little notebook’s configuration.
The operating system for the Acer’s D150 Aspire One mini notebook is the current version of Windows XP.
This netbook’s physical profile and dimensions (9.8x 7.1x1.1 inches and 8 pounds) should make anyone who’s ever schlepped a notebook around a large corporate or college campus smile under a much lightened travel load. The Aspire 150 netbook may be small, but it’s basic feature set (which includes 3 USB ports, an external video monitor, and integrated 1.3 MPixel camera, hasn’t let me down in the 7 weeks I’ve been pounding on its keyboard with my sausage-like fingers. The fit and finish of the Aspire One is better than I’ve seen on other netbooks sold at retail. My one slight beef with this machine is with its Synaptics’ touchpad. I found the track pad switch to be less than optimal, and my reaction to try gesture based commands on the track pad was less than instinctive. The simple solution to this problem is to use tap gesture on the pad to initiate actions or carry a USB-based mouse (something many users of notebooks equipped with track pads already do anyway).
Although I have huge hands ( I wear a size 16 ring), I mastered this reduced-size keyboard in less than two hours and found myself pounding away on blog posts in a darkened conference room, comfortably keeping up with details of a presentation 200 feet in front of me.
I’ve real world tested the Aspire netbook at two large conferences where as many as 575 attendees were attached to an 802.11 network in dimly lit halls, in college lecture rooms with notoriously spotty Wi-Fi coverage and managed to stay attached to a network for hours.
The 4400 milliamp battery on the unit I reviewed delivered more than six hours of operation, with little or minimal battery conservation techniques.
The Aspire One’s 10-inch screen is big enough for me to read comfortably, made even more so by my first new pair of glasses since a stroke several years ago.
The Aspire One is a reliable inexpensive netbook that offers a very good out of the box user experience. I tested this unit using cloud based Google, word processing, spread sheet, photo sharing and other applications such as Skype and found its’ basic performance to be sufficient enough for any task.
My one recommendation to any netbook user is to make sure to throw a lightweight blue tooth or other stereo headset with a microphone in your carrying case, if you need to run VOIP programs such as Skype or want to listen to MP3 music. I’d also recommend carrying a USB mouse to your basic carry load.
While reviewing this system I had one upsetting experience. For a three-day trip, I loaded and carried a heavier entertainment notebook. Returning home from the trip, I swapped that machine for the Acer Aspire netbook. First morning home, I went to the library and was briefly freaked out by the fact that my back pack didn’t feel “right.” Tearing through its contents, I laughed when I saw the little white shiny case of the Aspire. My fear that something was amiss had been caused by the three-pound difference in the weight of the systems.—Jim Forbes 04/22/2009