Acer Aspire One Netbook Review

Acer Aspire One Netbook

With the approach of mid August so approaches the Back To School Season.  You know what I mean; whole sections of WalMart, Target, and warehouse stores dedicated to pencils, pens, rulers, white glue and notebooks and folders featuring Hannah Montana and High School Musical all over them. It’s retail’s dedication to sending you or your children back to the Halls of Academe.  But today’s student requires much more than a backpack emblazoned with Zac Efron’s face.  Today’s student is wired to go.

Enter the Acer One Aspire Netbook.  Laptops are cool.  They’re portable, easy to use and handy for homework, surfing, listening to music and these days, catching up on the last episode of Survivor.  But they’re heavy.  My Dell Inspiron 1521 weighs 6 lbs just by itself.  Forget everything else I carry with it.  And I’m not a high school student, so I’m not carrying around textbooks, binders and other school stuff.  The Acer Aspire One, weighing in at a mere 2.2 lbs lightens the load.  At less than ten inches across, (lid closed), it fits anywhere a 15 inch laptop (lid closed) does not.   Whether you are in class as a student, a mom waiting in a doctor’s office, a writer hanging out at a coffee house, size DOES matter and the Acer Aspire One simply has full sized laptops beat pound for pound, inch for inch.  It’s portable, light, and boasts plenty of features to make it as sufficiently attractive as its larger brethren.

Regarding connectivity, you get three USB ports, an SD card reader which I really like, an Ethernet port and VGA-out as well as headphone and microphone ports.

Acer Aspire One Ports

Acer Aspire One Ports

It comes with a memory card port, Kensington lock port and boasts 160 GB internal hard drive.   No, there is no CD/DVD player and quite frankly, I’m fine with that.  I’m one of those writers I’m talking about.   When the inspiration to write hits me, I don’t need to pop in a CD of classical music; that’s what I have a Zune for.  Writers are tired of writing down ideas on napkins and airsickness bags simply because they didn’t want to lug around their six pound laptop to Starbucks.  And most high school students already have iPods or iPhones filled with their fave tunes.  Added to that, with sites like Zune and iTunes plus sites like Hulu, needing a CD/DVD player installed into one’s laptop is slowly becoming a moot point.  I honestly do not see this as a deal breaker for this computer.

The Acer Aspire One does not come without its own set of cons however.  The screen is viewable but small.  If you’re a high school student, you probably have eyesight that can handle it.  If you’re me at 43, you’re using your reading glasses.  (But I’m using those to read grocery store labels anyway.)   The keyboard is also on the small side but what I have a hard time with is the trackpad and the right and left click.  The right click is on the right side of the trackpad and vice versa and honestly, I’m so used to my larger right and left click keys located directly under my Dell’s trackpad, that I find it frustrating to use the Aspire One’s trackpad.

Aspire One track pad.  Very small right and left click.  Track pad severely limits scrolling movement.

Aspire One track pad. Very small right and left click. Track pad severely limits scrolling movement.

To solve that issue, I purchased a small laser mouse and I’m fine with that.  The computer itself feels solidly made, however having said that, the hinges give me a cause for concern.  My Dell’s lid can be opened up and back flat.  The Aspire One’s lid can open to about 145 degrees before I’m scared of breaking the hinges.

The hinge can only allow the screen to be opened to about 145 degrees.  Be careful.

The hinge can only allow the screen to be opened to about 145 degrees. Be careful.

Regardless of who carts it about, get a sleeve for it and/or carry it about in a padded bag.  I’m at an age where I am over my “designer handbag” fetish, so the Targus netbook messenger bag doubles as a purse and laptop bag.

I can carry my netbook, power cords, mouse, checkbook, pens, lipstick, keys and handcream.  Large wallets won't work so I use a small coin purse with slots for ID.  Works perfectly.

I can carry my netbook, power cords, mouse, checkbook, pens, lipstick, keys and handcream. Large wallets won't work so I use a small coin purse with slots for ID. Works perfectly.

Let’s talk boot-up times.  If you have Acquired ADD, (you know… the condition one develops when they can’t go five seconds without fiddling with some electronic device) the bootup time is going to feel hellishly long.   If you’re booting up and getting your latte settled, it’s probably no great shakes.  Also, if you’re looking for a Blast You Across The Room processor, you’ve come to the wrong laptop. Again, think about what you want your laptop to do for you.  Battery life is do-able.  I get about 2 1/2 hours out of my Aspire One as long as I don’t use the brightest screen setting.  Again, for students, writers, et all, this is a fantastic, lightweight way to get the job done.   The 3G feature is fabulous.  I love it.  At the risk of sounding extremely spoiled however, I must say that, for me, it runs about dial up speed and I get impatient because I’m used to high speed.  That’s not 3G or Acer One’s fault.  I do not live in an area where I can get true 3G.  I live in a rural farming community and am lucky to get high speed internet at all. My Dell is on our home network and runs much faster.  In metropolitan areas, however, my Aspire One runs like a little jet.

This laptop has its uses and they’re all good.  For high techie types like my husband, this laptop’s limitations would sincerely frustrate him to insanity.  But this wasn’t made for high techie (Read; uber nerd) types.  This is a perfect laptop computer for your high school/college student.  It’s perfect for an aspiring writer or journalist.  It’s perfect for mom.  It’s perfect for smaller kids to learn on at home.   It’s portable.  It’s lightweight and you can get the internet on it wherever you can get a cell phone signal.  These are all good positives.

This laptop is also very moderately priced at $300.00 – $ 350.00.  I paid $80.00 for mine at a participating Radio Shack because I agreed to indentured servitude for two years which is otherwise known as a 3G (AT&T) service contract.  You can go either way but I knew that I wanted the ability to get internet anywhere so I was going to spend the money anyway.  The price you will ultimately pay for this laptop depends upon how well you do your shopping homework.  Wireless providers are offering competing deals for netbooks at fabulous prices but again, you are theirs for a period of two years, if you know going in that you want internet capability on your netbook. It’s worth thinking about in terms of size and portability if you want to get one of these netbooks for yourself or for your student.  And yes, ladies…it comes in pink.

Acer Aspire One in Pearl Pink with Zune.  Zune sold separately.

Acer Aspire One in Pearl Pink with Zune. Zune sold separately.

 

Product Information

Price:$300.00 - $350.00. Check with retailers such as Radio Shack, Best Buy for better deals as long as paying for 3G service is what you want.
Manufacturer:Acer
Pros:
  • lightweight
  • fits in small bags
  • performs as well as larger laptops
  • portability
  • versatile; good for anyone on the go
Cons:
  • Slow boot times
  • small track pad limits movement
  • right and left click very small
  • hinges open lid only to 145 degrees
Posted in: Tablets, Ultra Portables

12 comments… add one

  • FRAN SMITH August 16, 2009, 7:18 pm

    Now this is “MY CUP OF TEA” so to speak, exactly what i have been looking for for quite some time now. I knew it would come along sometime soon because the new school year will demand it, but I am in those past college days in age and I just want class, style, and dependability. The emphasis is CLASS.

    I am working with AT&T, and have been for 8 years, and I am interested if there are any more “perks” for adding the Acer Aspire One to my nearly new contract. Need to look into that. I just bought two new iPhones, and wish I had this information as a bargaining tool then.

    We will see, and if this is my dream laptop I will certainly come back and tell you if the transaction left my checkbook dry, or I found a really great deal. It is a dreary day in Georgia today, but this may be the sunshine I need to pick up my spirits.

    Thank you for the information. I always find good deals on this site, as long as they have quality, CLASS, and I enjoy using the product. So far, you’ve got my “thumbs up”, and expect it to continue. You have not let me down yet, and I have no reason to expect a disappointment this time..

    Thanks again, GADGETEER!!!!!

    WITH GRATITUDE,

    FRAN

    1
  • Tyler Puckett August 16, 2009, 7:21 pm

    Good review. It is so refreshing to see reviews that focus on real-world usability, not a table filled with specifics.

    I could see that trackpad layout getting on my nerves bigtime. Does tap to click work well? That could at least mitigate the problem without having to tote around a separate mouse.

    The big problem with these netbooks is battery life. I want one that could easily get through a day’s work of classes (so around 5 hours) without having to charge. The screen is small and the CPU doesn’t use a lot of power, so it should be doable. Does anyone have any recommendations for a netbook with good battery life? I’d assume most netbooks have available larger batteries which isn’t a big deal. That’s something for me to look into. I am really digging the Dell mini and the MSI Wind right now.

    2
  • Andy Van Pelt August 17, 2009, 1:49 am

    I have the Linux version (with 8 Gb SSD) that came out a year ago, and I love it. I’ve never had any concerns about the hinges, but I do agree that the trackpad takes a little getting used to. You can tap on the trackpad instead of the (very) noisy buttons.

    The Linux version boots very quickly, I suspect that Windows XP is not as good a fit for the hardware. Mine booted to the Linpus login screen in 15 seconds. I’m running Ubuntu 8.10 on it now, which takes more like 30 seconds to boot.

    I suspect that a year later, there are probably better options, such as the Acer model with the bigger, higher resolution screen.

    3
  • Jerry Danzig August 17, 2009, 9:45 am

    What’s that slighter larger Acer with the aluminum body I just saw advertised on QVC? The Timeline, is it called? That sounded to be as lightweight, almost as thin as the Apple Air Mac, or whatever it’s named, and most importantly, the little guy runs up to eight hours on a charge. Yes, it’s more expensive than the Acer One, but for those who need a laptop that runs a full day on one charge, it might be worth it. The Timeline also has a full-sized keyboard from what I recall, and perhaps a full-sized mousepad as well… If only I hadn’t heard so many horror stories about Acer customer service…

    4
  • Elizabeth Daugherty August 17, 2009, 10:15 am

    The Acer Aspire One is definitely not a One Size Fits All netbook and I believe I went some lengths to underscore that in my review. In my search for a netbook, I was looking for three things: lightweight, portable and embedded 3G. I am a writer who was getting tired of lugging around my much larger and much heavier Dell Inspiron just in case the writing muse hit. I was looking at the HP Mini and even the Mac Air if you can believe that. The HP Mini had a better keyboard but let’s face facts: there was no way to beat the $80.00 price tag on the Aspire One from Radio Shack.

    Now I dig that the battery life isn’t going to win any longevity awards but you can purchase an extended battery and get about four hours. I rarely have an issue with battery power because I always have my power cord with me. I usually wind up at a Starbucks, a Panera Bread or other place that is wi-fi friendly. When traveling on longer trips (when the husband is driving) I am able to plug my laptop into a power transformer adapted for the automobile. For me, battery longevity isn’t a big deal unless a lightning strike takes out the transformer and white oak tree in my neighbor’s yard, ripping down power lines and rendering us without electricity for the next seven hours.

    I reviewed the Acer Aspire One package as it came to me without any extras. And again, you have to ask yourself what it is that you want from your laptop. Because let’s face facts again… you will rarely get THE perfect laptop that will do all and be all you want it to be at the perfect price.

    For middle school, high school and college students who need a lightweight portable computer, netbooks are the way to go. These students are going to want internet access as well. Their parents are going to want some kind of financial break.

    From the standpoint of 12 years and up children using the Aspire One, the hinges would be an issue to be aware of. Kids are clumsy and the hinges would be something to watch for in that respect.

    As for tapping on the trackpad, believe it or not, that is a technique that I rarely use. I turn that option off on anything I’m using because it has a tendency to just tick me off. I kick it old school with the cut and paste method. Some people like it, others don’t. Using it is just not habit I developed.

    5
  • Ben S August 17, 2009, 1:42 pm

    I have an Aspire One and I like it a lot, but I also work in academia and I don’t think that this netbook, or any netbook really, is truly sufficient for a university student if it’s their only machine. The keyboard, screen, and performance just can’t cut it. True, you can hook up an external screen and keyboard & mouse, but you still won’t fix the performance issues.

    It’s fine for email, Facebook, and surfing the web, but it’s not going to cut it when researching a paper or using and LMS like Blackboard or Moodle without more screen real-estate.

    6
  • Tyler Puckett August 17, 2009, 6:21 pm

    I certainly agree a netbook isn’t the only machine for a student. However, I think it makes a great computer for taking to class to take notes, to use in the cafeteria in between classes, at the coffee shop, etc.

    I wouldn’t want to type a 10 page research paper on ANY netbook, but I think they definitely have their place in college.

    7
  • Linda Blumich October 5, 2009, 9:24 am

    I am looking for a small netbook that has a dial up port. We live in an area with cell phones don’t work very well, so we have dial up for our computer.
    Can you help me?
    Thanks

    8
  • Linda Middleman October 21, 2009, 2:28 pm

    I just acquired the Acer Aspire One netbook and I think it is just awful. I have been trying to connect to the internet since I’ve had it. Unfortunately Im not able to return it either. It says I’m connected but I guess the signal strength is too weak. I purchased this because I loved that it’s wireless and I can’t go wireless with it. Does anyone have any suggestions? Please help, I’m in desperate need.

    9
  • Tara November 15, 2009, 5:59 pm

    I just got an Aspire and I am madly in love with it. The only issue I have with it at the moment is when I cam with someone, they can hear me and see me very well. But all I can do is see them and they come through sounding garbled. I have tried messing with all the different settings and even tried setting the firewall to a different setting and still no luck. Any suggestions I may not have tried?

    10
  • Melissa January 12, 2010, 6:01 pm

    I have a brand new HP mini netbook. My battery is fully charged but the computer will not power on unless it’s plugged into an outlet. HELP!

    11
  • megan bilby May 23, 2012, 9:04 pm

    i have had my acer for 3 years now, its been a good laptop but it certainly had its limitations. the keyboard is very small and hard for my large hands to type on. the trackpad gets in the way when im writing papers and will move my curser to a different spot in the page. very frusturating for me. the prosseser is slow and crashes a lot. within the first year my screen broke after the laptop being bumped into by someones purse while in its padded sleeve. its been good but i certainly wouldnt get another one

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