Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Impression of Acer Aspire One netbook

I mentioned in an earlier post about my thought process on purchasing a netbook, that I'd follow up with my impressions and experiences. Now that I've got some legitimate use of my Acer Aspire One netbook, here it is. I wanted to write this before Christmas for those that were thinking about giving one as a gift, or buying one on sale, but I guess it's "better late than never." For the record, I'm writing most of this post on my netbook while watching college football on the couch.


Obviously, this is one of the big features of the netbooks. Even with the 6 cell battery, it's still very light and compact. I carried it around quite a bit during the holidays. It took up about the same room as a smaller O'Reilly book, and probably weighed the same or less. The battery life was up to its billing. With web surfing and email, I was getting about 5 hours per charge. The wireless card range seems a little weaker than ones built into laptops, since it would connect with "Very Good" instead of "Excellent", but overall, I didn't have problems with network speed.


The boot up time isn't much slower (if even noticeable) than my other laptop. The only web performance issue I've noticed so far is when using the standard view of Gmail. It seems to hang or is sluggish when trying to load. However, I have no problems using the basic HTML version. The built in speakers aren't very loud, but that's not that big of a deal to me. If I'm going to listen to music or need audio, I can just plug in some headphones or powered computer speakers.


The keyboard is slightly smaller than a laptop keyboard, but I don't have too much difficulty touch typing. It is definitely easier than typing on a smart phone or my iPhone. The screen real estate is noticeably smaller, but doesn't impede too much considering this is a mobile device. Again, it's much larger than a smart phone or an iPhone. I didn't get any complaints from "guest" users either; including my wife, brother-in-law, or father-in-law. My only complaint, which is very minor, is the touchpad and the positioning of the left and right click buttons. However, it's mostly because I'm used to the buttons being positioned differently. I like the "zoom" feature with the touchpad that is similar to the Macbooks or iPhone. The three USB ports seem to work fine. I've only used them one at a time to connect my iPod or iPhone.

Other Features

The built in microphone and video camera work surprisingly well. Using the video chat feature on AOL Instant Messenger v.6, the video and audio received by the recipient was decent quality. Because it works so well, I was disappointed my netbook did not come with a Mac-like "Photo Booth" program pre-installed (more on that later). I haven't used the SD card slots yet. I'm not sure why there are two of them. I haven't used the VGA-out port either.

My Modifications

The netbook does come with pre-installed software, which I'm not generally a fan of. I removed the trial versions of Microsoft Office and McAfee Anti-virus. It also came with Microsoft Works. I haven't decided if I want to uninstall that and install Open Office instead.

As for software I've added (all are freeware for personal use), here's the list and why I chose them.

AOL Instant Messenger - I'm normally a Pidgin fan, but Pidgin doesn't support video chat right now.

AVG Anti-Virus (free for personal use) - I picked this one over Avast because it was supposed to be lighter weight. It seems to work pretty well, but I don't like the browser plugin that scans all links on a web page. It really hampered my web browsing. I've disabled the plugin, but now there is an exclamation point "splat" on the icon in the system tray.

Debut Video Capture - This program is a lot like the Mac's "Photo Booth". I was happy when I found it, and best of all, it's free.

Firefox Web Browser - I personally like it better than IE7.

- I don't plan to use my netbook to manage my music on my iPhone or iPod, but since I have over 100GB of storage, I figure I can copy my library over.

Picasa - Just in case I want to do some light photo management while travelling. My permanent photo storage will be on my desktop.

Skype - Another video chat client, just in case someone uses that instead for video chat.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the "Comments."

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