Product: Aspire One 8.9"
Manufacturer: Acer
MSRP: $379
Lowest Historical Price: $277 History

The Aspire One 8.9" was Acer's first foray into the very crowded netbook market. Netbooks are popular because of their small size, light weight, and low cost. The Aspire One was aimed to undercut the current offerings by other manufacturers, particularly the base models with an 8GB SSD and Linux. My test model was a 160GB HDD with Windows XP, more conventional than its spartan brethren but a nice setup for users wanting a larger hard drive and familiar OS.

First Impressions
The Aspire One is very smooth and glossy, with rounded edges that make it very comfortable to hold. The screen, as well as its bezel, is glossy, which makes for great color and contrast but at the price of glare in bright rooms. Compared to the Asus Eee PC and MSI Wind, the build quality of the Aspire One is surprisingly good. Tolerances are tight, with no creaks or visible bending when pressure is applied.
In terms of connectivity, the Aspire One is better equipped than most with two card readers — one of which is an SDHC slot to further expand your hard drive — LAN, VGA, mic and headphone jack, and finally 3 USB ports.

This model came equipped with the Intel Atom N270 CPU, and 1GB of DDR2 memory. For daily tasks like word processing and internet browsing, the N270 does the job quite well. The traditional 160GB hard drive generates more heat and noise and drains the battery life faster than a solid state drive, but for those needing more than 8 or 16 gigs of space, it's a no-brainer. The bright LED-backlit screen is nice and runs at 1024x600 resolution. 720p video plays with no problems, but don't bother trying 1080p video.

Because Windows XP is installed instead of Linux, boot-up time is a bit slow at about 90 seconds from power on. Battery life for the equipped 3-cell Li-ion is rated at 3 hours, but with the standard HDD, it's more like 2.5 hours. If you need additional battery life, a 6-cell is available for about $50 more, but it's bulkier and sticks out of the netbook.

The keyboard is 89% the size of a normal keyboard, which is still larger than what you see on most 8.9" netbooks, due to the Aspire One's bigger 10" case. Typing is comfortable and accurate with good tactile feel, but the keyboard's size makes for a smaller touchpad. That itself isn't so bad, but it also forces the left- and right-click buttons to the sides rather than directly under the pad itself.

Once you open multiple windows and multi-task, the compromises in having a netbook start to show as you tax its limited memory and processing resources. Videos lag behind the audio, windows take their time to maximize, and streaming videos skip frames. Those planning to buy a netbook and upgrade it with a bigger hard drive or more RAM may need to think twice, since the memory is soldered onto the motherboard and removal of the hard drive requires complete disassembly of the motherboard from its housing.

The biggest disappointment is the fan noise on the Aspire. From the moment you turn it on, you are treated to a droning noise that only gets louder as you open more programs until you get to a point where the noise rivals even full-sized notebooks.

But all these shortcomings can be forgiven since they don't affect what a netbook is really for; this is a small, ultra-portable web-surfing machine. Web surfing is a delight, with no typing or window minimizing lag. Most websites fit nicely on the screen without requiring horizontal scrolling. At 8.9", the LED-backlit screen is small but quite bright and clear with very good-looking whites. A function key changes the brightness setting to combat bright environments, although in direct sunlight the screen remains almost unreadable. Horizontal viewing angles are very good, with colors remaining accurate at almost any angle. Vertical viewing angles are much worse, and you need to be at the sweet spot to see the screen well.

The Acer Aspire One offers a large usable keyboard, bright screen and solid build quality. It has a higher quality glossy look and better build quality than its similarly priced competitors like the Asus EEE or MSI Wind, and it's cheaper than high-end netbooks like the HP 2133 Mini. However, lack of upgradability may scare off some potential buyers. But for the price, the Aspire is hard to beat.

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    nikjerry Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 5:00 am PDT 09/24/10

    Hey, I am using the same Laptop and the thing that I want to say that I really like that too much. I like its all of the features that much. I also want to say that when we look at the Operating System Requirement, these Acer Aspire One Netbooks are coming with two flavour. Windows XP Home and Linux.

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    bentler Ben's cred: 2
    Posted 9:43 pm PST 11/11/10

    Looks so great.
    Is there some discount or coupon?

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    Posted 9:14 am PST 11/12/10

    Uhh #2, it's a review not a bargain topic, hence being in the Review Forum.

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