Acer ‘Aspire One’ Ultra portable Notebook or Netbook!

Acer India – Nobody has been able to answer the riddle whether it was the chicken which came first or the egg but I have certainly entertained the egg first in this column. In case you are wondering if I am going to hold forth on my culinary skills, let me assure that that’s not the case. The egg I talked about first was the portable DVD writer and the chicken here is a tiny, little, chicken-size notebook.

In my last column (November 9, 2008), I had mentioned a rather small notebook that I had got for review. It is so small and lightweight that it can easily fit into a lady’s handbag. You can hold it in your left hand and use your right hand to key in something. This is Acer’s new ultra portable, featherweight netbook (as they spell it) ‘Aspire One’. Weighing less than a premature baby at under a kilogram, this very pretty netbook occupies mere 6.7 x 9.8 x 1.1 inches in real estate.

Resembling a handbook in size and shape, Aspire One has a very glossy, mirror-like mid-night blue top (comes in other colours too). The glass-like finish spreads right up to the display screen and the bezel around it. Personally I did not like the glass finish spreading over the screen as it catches reflections of your face and all shiny objects behind you in bright light.

An almost full size keyboard (84 keys) occupies most of the main body of the netbook leaving very little space for the touch pad and the left and right click buttons, leave alone the palm-rest. The keypad is well laid out and I loved the tactical feedback of the keys. However, I have issues with the mouse click buttons. They are so tiny that you will require a long time to get used to them. But once you get the feel of it, you will never leave Aspire One back at home.

On the top of the display screen is an inbuilt microphone and a 1.3 mega pixel camera. The 8.9 inch, CrystalBrite WSVGA LED backlit display screen has a rather uncommon resolution of 1024 X 600 and supports 262K of high fidelity colours. Acer’s CrystelBrite display technology prevents the ambient light from diffusing the internal light and thus helps reproduce sharp, distortion-free images with vibrant, life-like colours even outdoors.

On the right panel, there are two of the three USB 2.0 ports, two 3.5mm audio jacks for external microphone and headphones and a very handy 5 in 1 card reader.

The left panel houses a DC power-in jack port, VGA out, in case you wish to attach a bigger monitor, an RJ-45 port for 10/100 Fast Ethernet connection, the third USB 2.0 port and a slot for SD card basically to expand its storage capacity. It also supports the wireless LAN (802.11 b/g) to connect to the WiFi network.

Inside this tiny machine throbs the most power-efficient Intel processor Atom N270 (1.60 GHz). A 120 GB of hard disk space and 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM (expandable to 1.5GB) add to the already very attractive and sleek exterior. The 120 GB of hard disk can also be augmented with the use of an SD storage card.

With Windows XP Home edition preinstalled, the netbook beats all competition hands down in looks, price and performance in mini-laptop segment.

It does not have an optical drive to keep girth and weight in check. Though many a time you may miss it, but you can always cram all your movie and music DVDs into that 120 GB of storage with the help of an external DVD writer while travelling and show them the bin, once you are back. After all this is your companion while on the move.

Choice of older Windows ‘XP home’ over the current ‘Vista’ as preinstalled OS is logical, as this pretty thing lacks resources to run Vista smoothly. A wise decision by Acer. The small rechargeable Li-ion battery has just enough juice to last 2 hours of working with WiFi networking on.

The package also contains a very useful soft sleeve bag to put the laptop in before slipping it in to your handbag. It does protect from scratches and stains.

At an MRP of Rs. 21,999, Acer ‘Aspire One’ is a very good companion while on the move.

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