The Acer Aspire One, Acer’s entry into the mini laptop market, seems to be the most popular mini laptop currently and most likely because of it’s price and fantastic keyboard. Now I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, especially about the keyboard.
Acer Aspire One AOA150-Bw (White) Specs
Atom N270 1.6GHz Processor
Windows XP Home Edition SP3
120GB Hard drive
8.9” LCD Display (LED backlit)
1024 x 600 Pixel resolution
1.06 Kg / 2.33 lbs
Windows can preloaded with:
Adobe Reader 8
My system came loaded with System BIOS version 0.3301. There’s already version 0.3304 out, but I haven’t seen any pressing need to update so far.
There’s no XP Recovery Disk. If you want to restore the computer to factory settings, you need to run the Acer eRecovery program. There’s a shortcut on the desktop. There’s supposed to be an option in the recovery program to create a backup CD but it never showed up for me. McAfee is pretty annoying if you don’t uninstall it, it will attach itself to Firefox and IE as toolbars and occasionally pops up asking you to reboot.
A very nice and bright glossy screen, just like on the Dell Mini 9 except the viewing angles seem to be better on the Acer Aspire One. They don’t inverse colors as quickly, vertically or horizontally. Brightness seems to be about the same also, but I will test that later when I compare all three 8.9” mini laptops. Other than that, pretty much identical to Dell’s screen. There are 9 notches of brightness with no indicator on screen indicating the brightness level. I had no problems viewing this outside either.
I didn’t like the trackpad at first because it is too small vertically and the buttons are at both sides but now I have gotten used to it. It really helps to max out the sensitivity of the trackpad. I do still wish it was a bit bigger vertically. I don’t mind the button button positions that much. I can easily right click using my thumb. The buttons would be better too, if they were to be slightly raised and a bit softer.
The trackpad also seems to support two fingered gestures with the Synaptic drivers. You can get two fingered scrolling just like on the Asus Eee PC and Mac! It works well. You need to download a small custom built program that you have to run. Also you need to turn off pinching because that will interfere.
The Aspire One is really loud, that was my first impression as soon as I turned this mini laptop on! The loudest I have heard on a notebook. Perhaps it’s just my particular model but the fan never slows down or goes quieter. It’s just 100% loud 100% of the time. Now, as for the actual hard drive, the only time I’ve been able to hear it is when I use it in the bedroom before bed. It’s an extremely soft whirring sound and you can hear it from a normal sitting position. The hard drive clicks are at about the same volume. It’s quiet enough that is doesn’t bother me, both the whirring and the clicks.
Also some models that have a hard drive may have audible clicking often when the hard drive is active. Personally I doesn’t bother me at all, but it can be turned off.
The Aspire One gets warm but never hot in my experience. I haven’t been bothered by the heat it produces.
The worst sound I’ve heard on a mini laptop so far. That is the speakers. It’s loud enough but it’s very tinny and comes out of the base of the mini laptop so it really affects your hearing making you wish it were louder when it’s just the sound that is bad quality.
Very good quality overall. I like the glossy black bezel and the power switch looks nice. Cards slot in well into the card reader, unlike Dell Mini 9 notebook. There is a little flex in the keyboard and it seems worse on the right side of the keyboard. Not really noticeable when typing normally though. Battery slots in well and is firm. The screen hinges are not too stiff and not too weak. The only part that looks really cheap is the Wifi indicator area. Lastly this is personal, but the gap between the screen and the chassis looks cheap and reminds me of the earlier mini laptop, the Everex cloudbook. Ugh.
Oh god, this keyboard is beautiful. It’s by far better than all the other 8.9” mini laptop keyboards (except probably the HP 2133, I haven’t tried that one yet). The only things that came to attention where the missing ALT key on the right hand side (handy for ALT+ENTER to go into fullscreen) and small arrow keys. I can really touch type on this keyboard easily switching from mouse to keyboard quickly and not having to re-adjust.
Speed / Performance
Just like all the other mini laptops I have tested, performance is pretty snappy with Windows XP at least and 1GB of RAM is more than enough for most people. The Aspire One will only recognize up to 1.5GB anyway even if you slot in 2GB of memory. Speaking of memory upgrades, you have to take apart the chassis to be able to replace the current RAM. I like having a hard drive because installing software is much quicker than using a SSD based mini laptop.
Hard Drive Space
This model comes with 120GB hard disk space. Personally this is more than enough for me. The actual size of the hard drive is 14.3 GB I think. There’s also a hidden recovery partition that takes up a little space too. There’s also a 160GB model available now.
Weight / Battery Life
This is the lightest mini laptop so far, mainly because it only has a 3-cell battery, and boy is the battery tiny! I get a little of two hours with general usage, mostly internet browsing.
I recorded the total time of two sessions:
2 hours, 2 mins (50% Brightness, last 5 minutes attached an external DVD burner.)
2 hours, 11 mins (50% Brightness, AA1 Fan control software (Fan ON at 50C, OFF at 60C)
The Asus Eee PC 1005HA and 1011PX are clearly better buys than it. They have better build quality and better battery runtimes too. This is clearly the real deal breaker. 2 hours battery life is just awful and you’ll be tethered to the power cable most of the time as I have been with this thing. I have a 6-cell battery and it looks hideous! I would be embarrassed to take it out in public. The Acer Aspire One really trumps in some areas like the keyboard, build quality and screen but fails.
Acer Aspire One A150 Review Summary
Excellent bright and glossy screen.
Trackpad is a little cramped. Buttons on the side are awkward.
Dismal battery life.
No recovery CD
1.5 GB RAM upper limit.
Hard to upgrade RAM