- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Dual-core, decent GPU, low price, lots of ports, 1366x768 resolution.
Cons:Very weak sound, weak color saturation.
The Bottom Line: This is probably one of the more powerful netbooks one can buy for under $300. It's a shame Acer got cheap on sound.
I ended up buying a netbook because my T-Mobile Springboard (aka MediaPad 7) was a total bust (see previous review). With not a lot of money to spare and also desiring an itty-bitty form factor, I went shopping for netbooks. In a vast expanse of crummy Atom-powered throwaways, this Acer dual-core netbook stands out from the pack.
Just to set expectations: This is a review of a $299 netbook, not a power machine. So I am basing my opinion on what I thought I might be able to get for under $300.
The Acer Aspire One has a 1366x766 screen that sets it one notch above most netbooks (typically 1200x600). This means you can watch a Netflix movie without the bottom half inch running off the screen. Acer chose to use an older screen technology for this netbook. Instead of using an LED display, this device utilizes an active matrix LCD. What's the difference, you might ask? LED screens are brighter with better color saturation. However, LED screens also get very dim very quickly after about three years of use (I've seen it firsthand on two difference machines.) So, if you get an Acer Aspire One, don't expect photorealistic color. You can, however, expect the screen to still be lighting up in 2015. And while the contrast is certainly inferior to an LED, I've seen a lot worse on other LCD screens.
The sound system is the worst aspect of this device. I don't give an "F" lightly. Nobody expects a Bose-quality audio system in a $299 computer, but Acer skimped way too much in this category. The sound quality on the Acer Aspire One is tinny and weak. When cranked to full volume, it is just barely sufficient to watch a Netflix movie in a very quiet room. If you are considering using this computer as a music repository, I suggest getting external speakers or a good headset. There really is no excuse for a computer made in 2012 to have speakers this bad. My $50 cell phone has vastly superior sound quality.
I'm not sure if it is actually possible for a netbook to get an "A" for keyboards. I've owned several 10"-12" machines in the past decade and there is always a significant compromise when cramming a Windows keypad layout into an itty bitty form factor. In the case of the Acer One, the key response is quite good, but the key travel distance is very shallow -- almost like a chiclet keyboard. Furthermore, the directional arrow keys are half-sized keys. Likewise, the PgUp/PgDn keys are miniaturized and do double duty as Home/End. I've seen a lot worse. But the shrunken directionals is what makes this keyboard not get a "A".
While the touchpad is of sufficient size to be useful, and the accuracy is pretty good, this touchpad suffers from a phenomenon I call "the brush-away cursor effect". I find myself accidentally dragging the edge of my palm across the touch pad, which in turn makes the cursor move away from where I am typing. This causes me to accidentally start writing a sentence in the wrong paragraph. While this isn't the end of the world, I have used computers in the past that have software algorithms that compensate for this effect.
Hard Drive: A
In an era where cheap computers are now coming with 16Mb or 32Mb of storage, the Acer packs 284 Gb of addressable hard drive space. Moreover, the drive is so quiet that it is almost impossible to hear it being accessed. As the boot time on this machine is pretty quick, it is apparent that the hard drive is also fast and efficient.
The Acer Aspire One ships with a refreshingly spare software array. You get Windows 7 Home, Microsoft Office Starter, and a trial of McAfee Antivirus. It is NOT burdened with dozens of applications that you will have to immediately uninstall. the two apps that are bundled (Office and Antivirus) are at least useful items. THANKS, ACER!!!
Battery Life: A
Let's face it: computer specs lie when it comes to battery life. Therefore, I use my own standard when it comes to battery life. 4 hours or more = "A", 3-4 hours = "B", 2-3 hours = "C", 1.5-2 hours = "D", and anything under 1.5 hours gets a "F". When using the computer for word processing and basic web browsing, I easily exceeded four hours on a battery charge. I'm not sure how much I could have ultimately gotten, since I plugged the device into a wall outlet before it was fully discharged, but I did get four hours.
Heat Generation: A
I've had computers with AMD processors before and they typically suffered from intense heat generation. The Acer Aspire One, however, only gets slightly warm even after extended use. This is a netbook that you can sit on your lap without making you sweat.
Processing Power: A
The Acer Aspire One gets an "A" for processing power when compared to other machines I have used that have had a 10"-12" form factor. Nobody is going to confuse an AMD 1.0GHz dual core with a gaming machine. However, this processor core beats the Intel Atom by several orders of magnitude. This machine has the most powerful processor I've personally used in a sub-$300 machine. There is no reason to buy a crippled Atom deadbook when you can have an AMD dual-core. Just to make it clear: my last netbook with a single-core Atom that ran at 1.3 GHz was incapable of Netflix playback above 10 frames per second and could not play back audio from Zune without skips and pops. The AMD 1.0Ghz dual core plays Netflix at full frame rate and can play music without dropouts (although you still need external speakers!)
Video Power: A
The Acer Aspire One is configured with a AMD Radeon HD 6250. It cannot be overstated just how much more powerful this GPU is compared to the Intel GMA 500 that some netbooks ship with. I referenced the HD6250 on NotebookCheck and discovered that the HD6250 has a processing power similar to the Intel HD graphics chip (which is employed in full-size laptop computers). Don't mistake the AMD Radeon HD 6250 for a gaming GPU, for it is not. However, to get at least "mainstream" GPU power out of a $299 machine is pretty good. That its power greatly exceeds the Intel GMA 500 and Intel 3150 (common netbook GPUs) earns the Acer Aspire One an "A" for graphics power.
Most netbooks ship with 1.0 Gb of RAM. This machine shipped with 2.0 Gb RAM (1.8 Gb addressable). That extra 0.8 Gb RAM really makes a big difference in how well the machine functions.
I've noticed that a lot of netbooks these days have gotten miserly when it comes to ports. For instance, my last netbook only had two USB ports and no video-out. By contrast, the Acer Aspire One has three (3) USB ports, VGA-out, HDMI, SD, and HF, and LAN ports. That's a lot to squeeze into an 11" form factor. It also has a webcam.
The Wifi connects easily and without drama. Every computer should get an "A" in this category, but sadly this is not the case.
I'm not expecting an aluminum case when buying a sub-$300 machine. However, the Acer Aspire One does seem to employ smooth, shiny, high-quality plastic. It seems well-built and not a "throwaway". The seams are all tighat and there are no rough edges.
Read all 1 Reviews
Write a Review
Amount Paid (US$): 299.99
Operating System: Windows
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 11 inches
RAM: More than 256
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50