10-01-2008

Best Gadget I’ve Bought In Years: Acer Aspire One

Acer Aspire OneI’ve been keeping an eye on the new generation of Netbook computers for a while. A friend bought one of the OLPCs a while back and another bought an Asus EEE. I almost bought one of the early EEEs, but I wanted to hold out for a slightly larger screen. I’m glad I did.

I finally bought an Acer Aspire One recently. After about a month of using it, including two weeks of traveling, I’m loving it. It’s super light, has a surprisingly decent keyboard, and even the battery life isn’t too bad.

In terms of technical specs, the Aspire One has a full-width (1024×600, 8.9″) screen, 1 GB of memory, and a 120 GB hard drive. The 1.6 GHz Atom processor isn’t a speed demon, but it’s not nearly as sluggish as I expected, considering the price. Speaking of price, they can be found for under $400.

My old Dell Vostro 15.4″ laptop was just too heavy and bulky to lug around much. I’ve finally started really taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi that’s available practically everywhere now. A lot of people ask me about it, when I use it in public. Several of the flight attendants talked to me about it while I was using it on the plane. There’s probably a huge market for this size laptop with airline employees alone. For anyone who lives out of a suitcase, especially a carry-on, it’s ideal.

There are only a few downsides I’ve run across, so far. The trackpad buttons are on the sides of the trackpad, rather than below it. Out of the box, that would probably be my single biggest complaint, except that I’ve been using a portable wireless mouse instead.

I got used to the keyboard pretty quickly, except for the Home and End keys, which require that you also hold down the function key. As a result, I’m not as quick at navigating through big documents as I am at a normal keyboard.

Finally, some applications aren’t designed to work on such a short screen. The width isn’t a problem, but height can be. Photoshop gave me a warning when I installed it, but it did still install; and I’ve been able to do what little I needed to do with it. The Windows version of the board game Ingenious installed, but the board doesn’t fit on the screen, so it’s basically unplayable. I suspect there may be other problem programs in the future, but those are the only two I’ve run into, so far.

Apparently netbooks are selling quite well. Now that I have one, I can understand why. The convenience far outweighs the downsides.

Posted by Matt in tech, travel | RSS 2.0

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