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. Iâ€™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 8.9â€ 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.
The reviewed Aspire One was purchased with the following specifications.
Intel Atom 1.6GHz
120GB WD 5400RPM
8.9″ WSVGA (1024×600)
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 wouldnâ€™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 Acerâ€™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.
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 wasnâ€™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, weâ€™re still nowhere near the announced $199 price that got ASUS so much, in retrospect undeserved, attention when it first spoke about an â€˜Eee PCâ€™. However, the current pricing, especially by Acer will drive competition and hopefully get MSI and ASUSâ€™ pricing more in line with reality.