Feeds

Acer Aspire One: the new sub-laptop to beat?

A quick play with it and we're hooked

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Early reviews of Acer's £220 Aspire One were none too complementary about the Small, Cheap Computer's build quality, but have spent a brief time with a unit that's not a pre-production model, we'd say Eee PC creator Asus has a real challenge on its hands.

We've not had time to conduct a full review - our unit's on the way, Acer says - but after a quick preview, we're very impressed already.

You can see from the pictures that the One's a nice-looking laptop, and for many buyers that price is all the persuasion they need. That appeals to us, but a number of things attracted us.

Acer Aspire One

Acer's Aspire One: object of desire

First, there's the keyboard. The 901 has the best Eee keyboard yet, but it's still some way off a true laptop keyboard. There's not much travel, and the action requires a firm press. The One's keyboard is much more fluid - it's something we feel we could really type for long periods on, and type quickly. And each key feels larger too.

Without the two machines side by side, it's impossible to say for certain which is the biggest of the two, but we've no doubt the One's keyboard is the better of the two.

The One's Linpus Lite incarnation of Linux is less well known than the Eee PC's Xandros, but it's a good alternative to it. Asus has the better UI, but the One has a Windows XP-like skin which should help it win over users coming over from the Microsoft OS.

The One has a very neat trick: one of the machine's two SD card slots has been included specifically to expand the built-in storage. To that end, Linpus' File Manager allows you to extend the main file system over the SD card.

That's handy because the base One only has 8GB of solid-state storage, a lot less than the 20GB Eee 901 has. Mind you, the 120GB HDD-equipped One is only down as £30 more and comes with 1GB of memory rather than 512MB, though that's plenty for Linux and do you really want a hard drive in a machine that's going to be chucked around a lot? Well, at least you have the choice.

Acer Aspire One

Stylish... and cheap

The One only has 802.11g Wi-Fi - the Eee 901 has 802.11n - but we can live with that given the price. Both machines have a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, three USB 2.0 ports, VGA out, an Ethernet port. The One's other memory card slot can take not only MMC and SDHC but also Memory Stick and xD.

We're not expecting much from the battery - it'll be a lot less than the 901 with its 6600mAh power pack. Again, that's a trade off we personally don't mind making for the price. The One's probably not going to be much worse than the original Eee, and we'd be happy with a laptop that has the same battery life as a full-size model but is a fraction of the size and weight.

The build quality feels good and solid. Cheap it may be, but the One doesn't feel flimsy or unable to take the rigours of life on the road.

Anything we don't like? Only the trackpad, really. It's small and the two buttons are place at each end rather than underneath. That leaves you forever pausing to ponder what to press. The 901's trackpad is a big improvement over previous models' versions, and is definitely superior to the One's. The Acer is a machine that really needs a mouse.

We're looking forward to trying out the One fully, but on the basis of a quick look, this is the machine the Eee and other SCCs have to beat. Watch out for Register Hardware's full write-up soon.

Related Reviews
MSI Wind Windows XP Edition
Asus Eee PC 901 Linux Edition
Asus Eee PC 900 Linux Edition
Getac E100 rugged UMPC

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.