Recently there has been a small revolution in computing of sorts... the "netbook" or 'mini laptop'. What is a netbook? Well, they are tiny laptops that are in a new class of their own. Up until recently, the smallest class of laptops were defined as the "ultra-light" or "super ultra-light". These laptops usually had 12 inch screens and weighed around 3 pounds. Many of these ultra-lights did not have DVD or CD drives, but relied on "media docks" for these capabilities.
The new kids on the block "netbooks" are even smaller... having screens roughly 9 to 10 inches and weighing around 2 pounds. Many have hard drives that are flash based... also called solid state hard drives. So what has brought about this tiny revolution? Well, today's technology has finally made it possible to have tiny laptops that are powerful enough, light weight, and energy efficient enough to be practical. Also, the Intel Atom chip (which is a minuscule marvel that offers 1.6 Ghz of computing power while sipping electricity) is a big reason why these netbooks are even made possible. So as you read this review, keep in mind that these computers are not mere toys... but are in reality tiny little work horses :)
Review: The Acer Aspire One
This review is for the Acer Aspire One with 160GB hard drive, 6-cell battery, 1.6 Ghz Atom processor with 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP pre-installed. Please note that there are several different versions of this Mini-laptop. Some of them come with different hard drives (some with solid state hard drives), and some with different battery options (like a 3-cell instead of 6-cell), and different Operation Systems too (Linux lite). I picked this one because the 6-cell battery lasts 5 hours or more, it has XP included, and it comes with a 160GB hard drive. It also makes this version the most expensive... if you're wondering why there's so many different prices floating around for the same model laptop.
Well, I've had this laptop for few days now and I'm very impressed and happy with what it can do. It runs Windows XP very well and you can have several programs open at the same time... meaning that it can multi-task pretty well. It seems to have a very solid build, strong screen hinge, and a beautiful (glossy) high contrast screen. The colors are very vibrant and the black level looks great. I am surprised at how quickly it can load web pages and video from youtube... there is very little lag time. For example, if you're watching a video on youtube and you switch to full screen mode, it doesn't slow it down and switches quickly. And although one of the drawbacks of this netbook (or any netbook for that matter) is that there is no DVD or CD drive, it played DVD videos off the hard drive great and (oddly enough) comes with Win-DVD software pre-installed. One of my worries before buying this was that I thought that the screen resolution might look pixelated since the resolution is only 1024 x 600, but it actually looks very sharp. The only thing is that you do have to scroll down more often while viewing web pages than normal due to the smaller screen size. Another thing that surprised me about this laptop was that even when you use all of the USB ports (it comes with 3 total) at the same time, it doesn't slow this laptop down. I found this out when I plugged in a USB Mouse, external hard drive, and external DVD burner ... and burned a DVD using data off the external hard drive. It passed the test with flying colors and didn't skip a beat. The only major negative thing about this laptop is the design of it's mouse. Not only are the mouse buttons positioned badly on the sides of the touch sensor... but the size of the buttons are super thin and tiny. I think they could have easily improved this by at least making the mouse buttons larger. The bright side is that you can always use an external usb mouse if this is a major annoyance for you. Other than that, this laptop has surpassed all of my expectations. Here's a quick list of pros and cons:
Pros: -Beautiful Screen with vibrant colors, high contrast ratio, and bright! -6-cell battery is amazing (offering 5 hours or more of use) -160GB HD, Runs XP great, good multi-tasking capabilities. -3 USB ports, and the Multi-card reader can read new SDHC cards -Built in mic and web camera (video from camera looks good) -Built-in Wifi worked well for me and web pages loaded quickly. -So portable and light... about the size of a small textbook. -Runs quiet and doesn't get hot while running.
Cons: -Badly placed and designed mouse buttons -No DVD or CD drive (but no netbooks available offer one) -Screen could be larger (an extra inch could go a long way)
If you're looking for an affordable and portable laptop that has enough processing power to run most applications, this mini-laptop might do the trick for you. It is perfect for the student that is always on the go... especially considering the long battery life. It's probably not the right one for you if you run processing intensive software though... such as video editing or gaming software. Overall, the Acer Aspire is an amazing little laptop that is a wonder (even for us tech geeks) to see in action.
This small, lightweight and stylish computer fits conveniently in your purse or carry on luggage, and with an average weight of a day planner, you will barely even notice it is there. Check out brands from Acer, Dell, Sony, Toshiba and Samsung. You can even get one for less than $200.00 this year. (Check out the HP Mini Laptop for $199.00).