Acer Aspire One Netbook Review (XP)

Note: I originally took a bunch of unboxing and detailed photographs of the Acer Aspire One, but lost them all due to some carelessness on my part with SD card formatting. To be honest, I was too frustrated with myself to retake them all, but there are tons of photos all around the web if you want to see the Aspire One. I’ve included some press photos simply to break up the mass of words that is this review.

The Aspire One

The Acer Aspire One is an 8.9” netbook, competing with the likes of the ASUS Eee 900/1000 and the MSI Wind. It is designed as a very portable computer priced at a point that it can be purchased as a travel companion when even regular sized notebooks may be too large or bulky. It may also be used as a companion to a desktop in educational settings, with the Aspire One taking its place in the lecture hall.

Acer Aspire One

The reviewed Aspire One was purchased with the following specifications.

Intel Atom 1.6GHz
120GB WD 5400RPM
8.9″ WSVGA (1024×600)
0.3mp webcam
5-in-1 card reader
Storage expansion SD card reader (flush)
3 USB ports
3 cell battery (23Whr)

A Temporary Fix – Decisions

With my Dell XPS M1330 out of commission and a lot of commuting by train on the docket for early September, I needed a small but usable computer that wouldn’t add too much weight and fit on the small fold out trays.

Since I didn’t want to buy another full sized laptop that would render the eventually-to-be-fixed M1330 useless, I went looking for a cheap temporary machine that would still have a use after I had the M1330 repaired. The logical choice was a netbook, something that expanded the possibilities for computing on the go.

With a netbook in mind, I narrowed my choices down to the MSI Wind, ASUS Eee 901/1000 and the Acer Aspire One. Immediately the Aspire One jumped to the top of my list, solely due to price. After a repair, my M1330 would be completely usable, so I wanted to spend as little as possible. However other factors also came into play. The Eee 901 and 1000 offered significantly better battery life than the Aspire One, but were terribly expensive, to the tune of around 1.5X the price. The MSI Wind was more attractive, with a (in my opinion) better design, better keyboard and a slightly lower price than the Eee 901/1000, albeit only as the 3-cell battery version, making battery life no better (if not worse) than the Aspire One.

However, with power plugs available at every seat on the train and models readily available at both Future Shop and BestBuy locally, I decided I could sacrifice the poorer battery life for the additional savings. Furthermore, I had a chance to briefly try out the Aspire One before purchase. At the time, the only thing that made me hesitate was the bilingual keyboard. An HP Mini-Note was also on display at BestBuy, and side by side, the Acer’s keyboard was no match for the Mini-Note. MSI also seems to be shipping a bilingual keyboard on their Winds in Canada, so it would seem like with a slightly weaker channel program in Canada, Acer and MSI are both trying to keep a cap on their netbook SKUs for our bilingual country.

Acer Aspire One
I wish the keyboard were like this and not bilingual…

Netbooks at… Big Box Stores?

The purchase was made for $379 from BestBuy. I might have been able to get a better price elsewhere, but would have had to wait for shipping. For example DirectCanada has the 6 cell version for $429. On the other hand the price also wasn’t bad; Canada Computers has the same model I purchased for $420. Pricing is hovering around the $400 MSRP currently.

In terms of pricing, the $399 price of the Aspire One is very reasonable, especially compared to the $500-$600 pricing of the MSI Wind and the ASUS Eee 901/1000. Furthermore, with the 6-cell version of the Aspire One at $429, it makes the Wind Eee look absolutely expensive in comparison.

In terms of absolute cost, we’re still nowhere near the announced $199 price that got ASUS so much, in retrospect undeserved, attention when it first spoke about an ‘Eee PC’. However, the current pricing, especially by Acer will drive competition and hopefully get MSI and ASUS’ pricing more in line with reality.


14 Replies to “Acer Aspire One Netbook Review (XP)”

  1. The right click is not mandatory on the touchpad. There is the key between the alt-car and ctrl which can be used almost all the time, in fact, all the time, if you plan it and get used to highlighting the icon/word/etc (setting the touchpad/mouse settings to highlight when pointer is over and single click open/run.

  2. I can’t recall exactly, but there’s a small restore partition on the machine, and aside from that, it’s just the OS. You’re probably looking at ~90GB of space free.

    As for memory, I didn’t look in XP, but under Vista, after the system loaded, there was still about 500MB of free memory.

  3. I have had an Aspire one for about 4 months, I bought an aftermarket 9 cell battery out of China (Ebay) for $80 – free shipping. My Aspire One is now quite a bit heavier but runs playing movies for a full six hours. When fully charged Windows estimates (don’t know how accurate windows estimates are) 6.5 to 7.5 hours of run time. The keyboard is my only complaint, the bilingual keyboard is difficult to use for us english typing Canadians, you can now buy a replacment english only keyboard on EBay as well but this would drive the price way too high for overall cost after the battery and keyboard. Portability is great, very nice little machine for travel/school etc.

  4. The wifi functionality of the Aspire One is terrible. You can find hundreds of complains about this online. I tried to return my laptop after 3 weeks of ownership and Acer has refused to acknowledge that this is a major and extremely common defect and would not take it back. Everything else about the computer was fine but I won’t buy another Acer product ever again. My advice: Don’t buy this product or any other Acer until they fix the bugs.

  5. The Acer Aspire One which I recently purchased has No wireless connectivity problems . You must expect this netbook to go above and beyond what it was designed for. By the way this little missive was penned from the dashboard of my car , using the wireless of the 7-11 I am parked in…

  6. I love my Acer Aspire One. It’s Wifi works perfect, and it’s loaded with Windows XP and ubuntu. With ubuntu, wireless had problems and with the newest kernel Internet doesn’t work at all, but there’s a Wiki page on their site with many many fixes for it. Overall, it’s tons better than my old pieces of junk, and it’s actually lasted longer.

  7. I bought an Acer Aspire One yesterday. I’m hoping to return it to Best Buy tomorrow.

    When setting up, do not choose the default language “Canada: French/English” or everything will be in FRENCH!

    I contacted Acer about the problem. They claim they ONLY fix is to purchase their Recovery CD. One small problem…the Aspire One does NOT have an optical (CD-R) drive. Acer suggests I also buy an external drive, so I can run their CD. The inexpensive choice is quickly becoming anexpensive choice!

    Stay away from Acer.

  8. Acer Aspire One was also in my list before, but I ended up with the new LGX110 which is a little bigger than the aspire one because I find the laptop really small for me and my big hands. Thanks for the information anyway, and I’d still love to have an Aspire One because it looks really nice.

  9. I wanted an Aspire One but chose the Toshiba NB 205 because of the keyboard. My large hands would not fit the other netbook keyboards. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

  10. I purchased the 11.6 inch screen version from future shop.
    No problems so far.
    It pulls in week wireless signals alot better than my laptop does.
    One feature not found on other netbooks is the power zoom on the touch pad.
    Two fingers placed on the touch pad, spread your fingers and voila!…. blind people can read.
    Battery life is acceptable with the three cell.
    I would buy another one.

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