Acer Aspire One

The 'netbook' scene just got another team: Acer. Check out this Eee PC competitor.

  • On the right-hand side, you get microphone and headphone ports, two more USB 2.0 ports, another SD card slot, which can be used to transfer photos off your memory cards, and a Kensington lock facility.

  • The Aspire One is Acer's first 'netbook' PC and it's a computer for the Internet lifestyle. You can use it for browsing the Web, chatting online, streaming media, viewing photos and updating your social networking sites while you're on the go. Initially, it will only be available with Linpus Linux-based interface that has been customised by Acer for ease of use — and it is very easy to use. You get free office applications, calendar and contacts functions, as well as online tools, but you won't find any of the educational programs that are available on the Eee PC. A Windows XP version will be available in early August.

  • On the left-hand side, you get D-Sub, 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0 and, most interestingly, an SD expansion slot. This dedicated slot can be used to expand the unit's storage capacity. Acer has tested it with SD cards up to 16GB. On the Linux version, using Smart File Management this capacity can be merged with the existing hard drive or flash-based drive and treated one large drive. Currently, the internal storage choices are either an 8GB solid-state drive for the Linux version, or an 80GB conventional hard drive for the Windows XP version. Acer says the larger drive comes with the Windows version as users will want to install more applications and store more files than on the Linux version. The Windows XP version will also ship with 1.5GB of RAM, while the Linux version will have just 512MB (plus an empty slot if you wish to upgrade).

  • The red rings you can see on the unit are just for show. The glossy style of the Aspire One fits in with the rest of Acer's Aspire line-up. It's made out of hard plastic and feels very solid to the touch. You can see the Sapphire Blue unit in the foreground, while the Seashell White is in the background. Golden Brown, Coral Pink and Black will also be available.

  • Its keyboard surprisingly comfortable to use and appears to be slightly bigger than the Eee PC's keyboard. The touchpad does take a while to get used to, as its buttons are either side of the pad, just like the Mini-Note PC.

  • Acer's Aspire One has an 8.9in screen and runs an Intel Atom CPU. It's 24cm wide and 17cm deep, yet it's reasonably comfortable to use, and best of all, its underbelly barely gets warm, so you can use it on your lap without feeling the heat.

  • The rear of the unit is port-less, but you can see the large, 6-cell battery sticking out. With this battery, Acer claims the Aspire One will last over seven hours, while the standard 3-cell battery that ships with unit will supply over three hours. With the 3-cell battery installed the Aspire One weighs under 1kg, but with the 6-cell it tips the scales at just over 1kg. You also get 802.11g networking built-in and in the fourth quarter Acer will also release a version with built-in 3G connectivity. The Linux version with an 8GB SSD drive and 512MB of RAM costs $599, while the Windows XP version with 80GB hard drive and 1.5GB of RAM is a bargain at $699. Both units come with a 1-year pick-up and return warranty, and they are covered internationally (you'll need to go to an authorised Acer service centre).

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