Stolen from Wikipedia, A netbook is a light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient, highly portable laptop suitable for web browsing, email and general purpose applications. This holiday season, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an Aspire One of my very own. This thing comes fully loaded; a gigabyte of RAM, 1.6ghz Intel Atom processor, 160GB hard drive, three usb ports, card slots, built in web cam and mic, audio ports, wifi, the list goes on. The model I got came with a 6-cell battery for over 5 hours of use, as well as Windows XP Home. I figured that I’d go XP over getting a prepackaged Linux install because hey, I can always install Linux for free later anyway.
So, upon first boot-up and registration, I notice there’s a load of bloatware, including some DVD app which is strange because these things lack a disc drive. After uninstalling, the Aspire One boots up in seconds, perfect for use just about anywhere and fast. Want to check my email, BAM, I’m up and running.
The two biggest complaints I’ve heard about the Aspire One were that the wifi card gives out at strange times, and the internal fan is very loud for such a small machine. After searching around I found out that the problems with the Atheros card can be easily stopped by turning off sleep mode in device properties, so I did just that as a preventative measure. Also, I don’t know if they improved anything when updating the Aspire Ones to make use of the new Intel processors, but I barely hear a fan, and thing thing hardly ever feels warm.
One qualm I do have is the built in speakers. From the first boot up when the Windows start up music chimed in, it was scratchy and underwhelming. I can say however, the HD sound achieved with headphones is a magical experience. Music sounds better on this than on my iPod. The internal microphone also proved a little soggy with its test, though I do believe the quality on that can be fine tuned if I put in enough effort.
For a web cam, this one works very well. Its spec’d at 1.3 megapixel, which blows other netbooks out of the water. The frame rate isn’t the best in the world, but its not like I’m making a movie on it, it gets the job done. On the performance side of things, with a 1.6Ghz processor, nobody is gonna be playing the newest and greatest games. The video playback seems to be very nice though. 720p HD video plays smoothly and with no distortion. Even though the display is small, the video is crisp and detailed, as well as with no audio lag.
On the physical side of things, the Aspire One is very lite, and small enough to take just about anywhere. The 6-cell battery adds a load of weight, though and does stick out the back a bit. The keyboard is a little cramped but easily usable. The placement of the mouse buttons beside the touch pad are a bit awkward; needing two hands to comfortable operate.
In all, I can say I’m happy with it. I can easily boot up into Windows, or use a USB insallation of a Linux live cd (Backtrack 3 anyone?) and go take on the town. It also appears they have included a one year warrenty incase something breaks down, which is nice considering how paranoid I can become.