Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Acer Aspire ONE – First Impressions

As I discussed in a previous article, I have been looking to buy a couple of netbooks for myself and my fiancé. I looked in depth at a review sample of the CnM miniBOOK and found the keys to be far too small and the software not flexible enough for my needs. I looked into the possibility of a few other well known netbook models from MSI and ASUS, but the MSI was far too expensive as seen as I could buy a fully fledged laptop with a much higher specification than that of the MSI Wind, while the ASUS EeePC, although quite a status icon just did not seem to suit.

I fell in love with the Aspire ONE from Acer, with its almost full size laptop keyboard, 8.9" screen, 950g weight, 1.6GHz CPU, 120GB hard drive and 512MB DDR2 memory that was (reasonably) easy to expand. The ONE lacks Bluetooth though, but has two memory card readers and plenty (3) of USB2.0 ports so connectivity isn't really much of an issue.

So I went ahead and ordered a couple, and eagerly awaited their arrival at work. Yesterday they arrived early in the morning, and upon un-boxing mine I was highly impressed straight away.

The sapphire blue colour is stunning, even if it does show off fingerprints too much, and the size makes it so easy to transport. The 3 cell battery weighs next to nothing and the screen is fantastic, just as good as the one of my previous laptop, the Acer Extensa 5620.

I have been trying to get along with the pre-installed Linpus Linux OS, but to be honest, I am a Power User, so I need to be able to configure every last detail of my installation and Linpus does offer itself up to much in the way of configuration changes, well, not to my satisfaction anyway.

So this afternoon at work, I nipped through to the hardware department and nabbed their USB DVDrom drive and got on with installing Windows XP. I did want to install Ubuntu, but after reading through this guide, decided that I would wait a week or two until after the release of version 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) to see if that is easier to install.

Installation of XP was easy and quick, but required that I download drivers from the Acer website, but I guess they were having issues at their end, because getting the drivers took many attempts due to errors on the download page. With all the drivers installed, I went ahead and installed SP3, Office 2007 and my usual other programs such as winrar, VLCmediaPlayer, PowerISO, Google Chrome, Google Sidebar, iTunes, DivX Player and Paint.NET. All went without a hitch; however I have still not yet managed to get Windows Live Messenger installed. That's no big deal though as I rarely use it anyhow.

This evening I have even upgraded the memory from the built-in (soldered to the motherboard) 512MB of RAM with a 1GB module to 1.5GB total. I wasn't going to bother, since XP ran impressively fast after install, but once SP3 was installed it slowed down too much for my liking. Now though it nips along quite nicely.

Overall I am incredibly impressed with this stunning piece of kit. I will write up some more soon, after I have spent a few days with the ONE. NOTE: This entire article created using the ONE, proving (to me in the very least) that a Netbook is a perfectly good substitute for a laptop when it comes to basic computing tasks.

Are you a ONE owner? How has your experience with netbooks been? Are you looking to buy a netbook like the Aspire ONE? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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