In the past, Acer has gone with two different types of keyboard. The original Aspire One, along with a few subsequent models, featured a standard, raised-key design, while the more recent Aspire One 751 - reviewed here - had a flat, low-profile keyboard. With the 523h, Acer’s gone with the low-profile version. However, while the 11.6in display of the 751 meant a bigger chassis and more room for the keys, on this 10.1in model things are a bit more cramped. Acer’s done well to use every last bit of the keyboard’s width, but there’s very little space between the keys so it’s all too easy to slip onto a neighbouring key. As expected, some squishing has occurred, including the left Shift, ‘#’, ‘]’ and arrow keys.
Large keys, but not the easiest to type on
We’re not fans of what Acer’s done to the touchpad. It’s made of the same glossy plastic as the rest of the chassis and, in an attempt to add some texture, it’s been splattered with tiny circular pads. Acer calls this an "anti-slip microbead" texture, but we have to question whether a touchpad should have an anti-slip texture – if anything, you want it to encourage slippage. We found our fingers didn’t run across the touchpad very easily; something that proved a particular nuisance when attempting to make small, precise movements. Stick with a light touch and things aren’t too bad, but we’d prefer something a bit smoother.
The touchpad is also multi-touch, but attempting to perform rotating or zooming motions with two fingers is tricky given its small size. A single rocker-bar sits below it and provides solid left and right mouse clicks – this bar also matches the lid colour.
Acer, there's no need for an anti-slip covering on a touchpad
The 10.1in display has a native resolution of 1024 x 600 and sports a glossy coating. Reflections are obviously exaggerated by the screen’s shiny nature, but colours are good and it performed well even in bright sunlight. If you prefer your netbooks to have a non-glossy display, watch out for the Samsung N220 - reviewed here.
Crap flat keyboard, crap touchpad. What's next, take the last human interface, the screen, and paint it to match the chassis color?
I'm beginning to think nobody that designs these things ever tries to use them.
It's a problem raised before on such forums... er.. fora... er.. whatever... as these in that one of the main ideas behind the original netbook was to produce something that was smaller, lighter and cheaper than a full blown laptop. I bought my own Aspire One last year as a clearance item from PC World and, apart from replacing the rather tame Linpus offering with openSUSE 11.1, it did all the above at around £170. At the £300 mark, I'm more likely to go looking for a low spec laptop.
The only operational gripe (aesthetically, I do wish these sodding companies would stop it with the piano gloss finish on such machines is it is totally impractical) I had about my own N270 based machine was the appalling arrangement of the touchpad and buttons, a fault that Acer still doesn't seem to have grasped with this bobbly pad arrangement on this new model. Other than that, and allowing for the fact that the review machine has a standard drive as opposed to my own system's 16GB SSD, there is little to choose between them. That being the case, I know which one I would choose and, since I already have it, I hardly think that I'm likely to change!
Dunno about the keyboard
I've an 10 inch Eee (ok, no, 2 Eee's actually) and have found the 10 inchers pretty ok to use. Can't say anything about this specific model, I think lappies are like shoes, you really need to try em on first, but what I'd probably object to is the glossy screen.
I hate glossy screens.
Absolutely hate them.
A great Netbook indeed.
I just purchased my Aspire One 532h-2Cr in Bangkok a few days ago. It cost the equivilent of £205 and came with a 250GB HDD & 1GB RAM, bluetooth was also included. There is no Microsoft Tax in that price as it came with something called Linpus Linux. This I wiped and replaced with Ubuntu 9.10 as soon as I got back to my hotel room! Just upgraded the RAM today to 2GB, a Kingston PC2-6400 (800MHz) module and its working great, so I don't understand why Acer in the UK has put, what seems to me, to be an artificial cap on the RAM amount in the system.
I would have liked the higher def 1280*720 screen, but that wasn't availible where I was shopping, and would have probably been significantly more expensive as well. As far as the keyboard goes, it is one of the best I've seen on any Netbook. I have quite fat fingers, but I'm able to touch type with out any problem on the Aspire's keyboard, which is more that can be said for most Netbooks that I've tried. Admittedly the keyboard on mine is an International one, not UK specific, so all of the 'problem' keys mentioned in the article are fine on my keyboard. As for the touchpad, I've never been a fan of this type of pointing device, so I'm using a Microsoft Arc Mouse with the Aspire, which works well for me. I'm happy to carry the mouse, especially as it folds up pretty small, along with me.
Over all I'm really happy with this system, especially now that I've upgraded the RAM and have Ubuntu desktop (not netbook remix) installed.
I have upgrqaded mine to 2GB
The strange thing about this netbook is that it uses (mine at least ) PC-6400 800Mhz original 1GB ram module, not PC-5300 667MHz ram as the spec says. I swapped mine with a Kingston PC-6400 2GB module and it works just fine.