Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets

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Trinkets: Acer Aspire One Review

200901191559.jpgI’ve recently become responsible for the upkeep of an Aspire One netbook. My thoughts, thus far: wait for a while, get another model than I did, and dump Linpus as quick as possible. First, I’ll provide the actual specs for the netbook in the house, and then outline my thoughts a bit more.

Acer Aspireone (AOA110-1531 (Refurbished))

  • Sapphire Blue
  • Intel Atom Processor N270 (512KB L2 cache, 1.60GHz, 533MHz FSB)
  • 512BM DDR2 533 SDRAM
  • 8GB SSD
  • Card Reader
  • 802.11b/g WLAN
  • 10/100 LAN
  • Webcam
  • 8.9″ WSVGA (1024X600)
  • 3 cell battery
  • Preload with Linux

The Good

I’ll start with the good points: it’s very light, was very affordable (~$290 Cnd after taxes), and the Linpus OS boots very quickly. The screen is gorgeous, and with decent battery management you can squeeze about 2.5 hours out of it. While I’m not the biggest fan of the keyboard (I’m now very used to the ‘chicklet’ style Apple keyboards) it’s not terrible – I can probably hit about 80% of my average wpm out of it.

The Not-So-Good

Now, let’s talk about what I dislike:

  1. It’s a locked box. Seriously – I’ve broken down my share of notebooks, and while I’ll likely have another go in a week or two, actually accessing the SODIMM slots is hard. Really hard. Hard enough that I’d say either wait until they make getting into the AAO more reasonable, or just buy one with more memory. These little guys are not meant to be opened and modified (you can, but it’s not easy).
  2. Linpus is terrible. There, I said it. It boots quickly, but they’re working off a modified version of Fedora, and when I try to use the add/remove programs I consistently get dependency errors. Is this fixable? Sure. Should I have to fight with the damn OS at the command line so that I can upgrade to Open Office 3.0? No.
  3. Support from other OSes is still in the infancy stages. I’ve worked with Linux before, and I get the ‘Linux is a learning experience, and you can’t expect things to just work.’ That said: I don’t want to be fiddling around with the command line for a few days to get my install working properly. At the moment, I’m just waiting for some bugs with Ubuntu to get ironed out and then Linpus is being replaced.
  4. Linpus doesn’t connect to wireless networks. Well, let me rephrase: it will connect to non-enterprise networks. Anything WPA2-Enterprise or newer, and you’re out of luck until you replace the network manager. When you *do* replace the manager, you run into problems with it not remembering wireless access passwords when you come out of hibernation.
  5. Card reader memory allocation is hit and miss. Apparently, when you don’t tinker with anything, you can insert an SD card and that SD card is dynamically added to the available flash memory available to the OS. This is cool – I got an 8GB SD card to slide into the AAO, which would give it a cool 16GB of total internal storage – more than enough for casual browsing and word processing. The catch: as soon as you make the needed modifications to access the OS proper, you have to manually mount the SD card each time you turn on the computer, or bring it out of hibernation. While this wouldn’t be an issue if I didn’t want to unlock the OS, I don’t think that using the computer as a computer should mean that this breaks.
  6. Ships with Firefox 2.0. I mean, really – FF3.0 has been out for a long time. Why the hell is it shipping with FF2.0?
  7. Terrible SSD HDD. I get a 7.x MB write to the disk. Enough said.

If you’re looking to buy one of these, get a version with a spinning disk drive. That said, if you want a netbook that is just going to rock out of the box, I’d suggesting getting the HP 2140 – it’ll be a bit more expensive, but I think you’ll be a lot happier. Maybe I’ll change my tune once Ubuntu is loaded on the netbook. In fairness, I should note that I’m being picky (because it’s what I do with these kinds of things), and the person actually using the computer doesn’t have these complaints – it does what it needs to (though not being able to access WPA2-Enterprise has caused them problems). This said, I think that items (1), (2), (4), (5), (6) and (7) really are showstoppers, though (2) and (4) will both be alleviated by changing OSes, (5) is resolvable by shifting where documents and such are saved to, and (6) is solved by hitting up the command line a bit.

My rating: 3/5

2 Comments

  1. I’m going to buy Aspire One 751h. ( http://acer-aspire-one.net/one-751 )
    What do you think about it?

    • Truth be told, I’m really not sold on the Acer’s. I’ve been recommending the Samsung’s and Dell’s of late, the former because of their high quality, and the latter because of truly delightful keyboards (we have a 10″ Dell) and the wicked low prices.

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