Acer Aspire one: An In-Depth Look

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Acer sure moves fast. This morning, a little over a week after the company announced its first entry into the mini-notebook space, the Acer Aspire one (Linux version, full review here) arrived in our offices to much glee. We couldn't wait to test Acer's answer to the Eee PC, HP Mini-Note, and MSI Wind NB. However, before we began testing, we talked to our Acer rep who informed us that ours is a pre-production model that has a handful of known bugs (primarily inconsistent Wi-Fi and video playback issues), which are being fixed before the system ships. We kept that in mind as we dug into the system and evaluated its potential. Design and Aestheics Upon getting our hands on the Acer Aspire one, one of our first thoughts is that this doesn't look like a budget machine. Our system sports a glossy white lid on the outside (it will also be available in black and blue), and a glossy black bezel on the inside which frames the 8.9-inch, 1024 x 600-pixel resolution display Unfortunately, it was a bit of a fingerprint magnet. What we didn't like is that the Acer Aspire one has a gap between the bottom of the display and the base of the machine, which reminds us a little bit of the Everex Cloudbook, a mini-notebook we want to forget. Whether or not you like a gap between your screen and your notebook body is totally subjective so we won't hold that against the Aspire one. Overall, it's a nice look and one that we'd gladly whip out at a coffee shop without fear of pointing and giggling. Keyboard and Touchpad The 2.2-pound Acer Aspire One features an 89-percent keyboard, which is not as large as layout on the HP Mini-Note or Windbook NB but is big enough for comfortable touch typing. It's certainly bigger than the Asus Eee PC 900/901. The keys were quite responsive and offered very nice tactile feedback. We plan to put the Aspire one through our touch typing test in the days ahead to see how it compares to its competitors. We're not big fans of the small touchpad or the mouse buttons that flank it. HP uses the same "buttons on the side" layout on its Mini-Note and, in both cases, we find it awkward. The buttons also feel cheaper than the Mini-Note's. However, the positive side of a smaller touchpad is that the system itself can be more compact, as less room is used for the wrist rest.

Ports and Dual Card Readers The perimeter of the 9.8 x 6.7 x 1.1-inch Aspire one serves up the following ports: three USB 2.0, a Kensington lock, VGA, Ethernet, and headphone and mic jacks. One particularly useful aspect of the machine is the inclusion of two memory card slots: one dedicated SD, and another 5-in-1. "Why include two card readers," you ask. Inserting a card into the stand-alone SD slot expands the internal storage. When we popped in a 4GB SD card, it was added to the on-board 8GB of flash for a total of 12GB. The system's file manager actually adds the additional memory to the total of the internal hard drive so the whole thing looks like one large disk. We had one freezing incident when trying to view photos that were on the 4GB card before we inserted it, but we chalk that up to our system's preproduction status. This second expansion slot is Acer's way of accommodating upgraders without encouraging them to monkey with the system's internal components. This is a good thing, because since the RAM and SSD are soldered into place (according to our friend Brad Linder's Aspire one dissection) making upgrades to either is pretty much impossible. The Linpus Linux Lite Operating System When the Acer Aspire one hits the market in July, mini-notebookers will be able to purchase the machine with either a Linux or Windows operating system (priced at $379 and $399, respectively). Our model features the Linpus Linux Lite OS, which takes a page from the Asus Eee PC's Xandros Linus OS by organizing applications into distinct sections: Connect, Work, Fun, and Files. Under the Connect heading, you'll find Firefox 2.014, an instant messaging client that's compatible with AIM, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger, Aspire one Mail, an RSS reader, Skype, and links to Wikipedia, Google Maps, and Hotmail. Work contains the OpenOffice suite, Contacts, Calculator, Notes, and Calendar. Fun houses the Media Master multimedia player, Photo Master picture manager, the KolourPaint paint program, a webcam, and a slew of causal games. The Files section is home to the My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, My Videos, My Downloads, and My Files folders.

The look of the interface is very simple and clean; our only gripe (and it's a minor one) is that we had to click an arrow to display all programs in a section, as only three are displayed by default. Located above these areas is a rather cool search box that doubles both as a desktop search tool and a traditional search engine. We decided to test it by typing in "NY Yankees" and clicking the search icon. Seconds later Firefox launched showing Yahoo search results for the query.

After we loaded the machine with multimedia files, we typed in "Sister", changed the search from "Internet" to "Desktop", and clicked the search icon. Instead of instantly displaying the results, the Acer Aspire One opened another search box, which was populated with the term we keyed in. Clicking Find initiated the search to find The Noistette's "Sister Rosetta" MP3. It seemed like an unneeded extra step, but it worked well.

Next Page: Multimedia, Wi-Fi, Performance, Hands-on Video, and Gallery >>

Quiet Speakers We then cranked the volume on the "Sister Rosetta" MP3 - - or perhaps it would be more apt to say attempted to crank the volume. The stereo speakers, which reside in the underbelly of the Acer Aspire one, churned out weak volume that sounded low in a a small room.

We're not too concerned about the low volume, because we don't think most users would want to turn a mini-notebook into a boombox. If they want to listen to music they'll most likely attach headphones or external speakers. We tried attaching a pair of Sony MDR-V150 headphones to the mix, and the volume soared. Surfing and Wi-Fi Using the preinstalled Firefox 2 browser, we made our usual rounds about the internet: loaded in 5 seconds, YouTube clips played smoothly, and video looked sharp from a variety of angles. However, when we tried to watch episodes of Arrested Development on Hulu, the machine froze a couple of times, and in another instance suffered from a very low frame rate. Our Acer rep told us playing certain video formats is one of the known bugs in our pre-production unit that will be resolved before launch. It should also be noted that this pre-production Acer Aspire one suffers from sketchy Wi-Fi. The machine will connect to a signal easily one moment, and then refuse to do so at the next. We aren't too concerned, because, along with the video playing, Wi-Fi is one of the two major known bugs that Acer cited in our briefing and promised to fix before launch. One interesting thing of note: in the Network Settings tab there's an option for "3G/WiMax", perhaps a sign of things to come. Webcam Solid in Low-Light Acer includes a 0.3-megapixel webcam for videochats. Unlike the 0.3-MP cam found on early Eee PCs, this one is actually useful as its designed for low-light use. It performed quite well when we connected to friends using the universal IM app-images looked fairly sharp and colors were solid, even when the lighting was a bit dim. When we chatted with our Skype contacts, we had a decent connection but there was frequent choppiness. Performance Like the Asus Eee PC 901 and MSI Wind NB, a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor is at the heart of the Acer Aspire one. We saw smooth performance while chatting, working with an OpenOffice doc, and streaming tunes from Slacker, despite the meager 512MB of memory. The system did occasionally lock up, but again we chalk that up to our unit being a pre-production model. Early Verdict: Good Value The Aspire one has the potential to be a very solid mini-notebook at an incredibly competitive price. At $379, this system is cheaper than the Eee PC 900 series ($550 - $600), the MSI Wind (planned at $399 with Linux and $499 with XP), and the HP MiniNote (starts at $499, but most configs are much higher). It even sports a better price than the 7-inch first-gen Eee PC 4G (still $399 in most places), while offering a powerful Atom processor and a 1024x600 screen. However, in order to get more than three hours of battery life you'll want to spring for the six-cell battery. Acer will make configurations of the Aspire one available with this battery, as well as offer it as an add-on, but pricing has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, this mini-notebook is one of the thinnest and lightest we've tested, which also offers it a competitive advantage. The customized linux interface is also one of the best we've seen, a worthy competitor to ASUS's customized version of Xandros linux. We look forward to putting the two custom Linuxes head-to-head. Future Testing As we spend more time with the Aspire one, we'll be conducting several more tests, including:
  • A touch typing test
  • An ambient heat test
  • A battery life test
  • A Web page display test
  • More tweaks and tests of Acer's customized Linpus Lite OS.
Hands-on Video [flq:99f4edc2ed3e4b4aa7136bcfda9849cc]
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  • Aslim Says:

    Hi anybody; I bought a netbook Acer AO 722 with Win 7, then recently I changed to Win XP. After changing to Win XP, the LCD projector cannot connected to the netbook. Anybody can help me please to solf the problem?

  • john o'hara Says:

    hi everyone family purchased acer aspire one model za3 at xmas 2009 great screen display controls easy to use i am 66 and have no clue about computers love this little machine when it works ..screen and controls suddenly freeze .have to switch off and start again any solutions. thanks john. live in uk.

  • Alison Says:

    I have an acer one aspire 532.
    It shows that it has connected to our wireless internet connection but won't allow internet access.

    Is there something I need to change in the security settings?

    Thanks to anyone who can help.

  • mdowler Says:

    I loved my Acer Aspire One until while I was visiting England it died on me. As it was still under warranty I contacted Acer's Service Centre. I was given the third degree. They would not allow me even to send the computer to them for repair until I "proved" to them that I was not resident in England. They wanted a photocopy of my plane ticket! They also said repair would take 10 days, not the 5 specified in the Traveller's Passport, and the Service Centre is deep in the west country, so taking the machine in and fetching it again are not options. I paid a private repair firm to get the Acer going again, but when I returned to Canada, Acer refused to refund what I had spent, even though the machine was still under warranty. My Acer is now out of warranty and has died again. in exactly the same way, with no warning. Apparently it writes over its BIOS. While it worked I loved it -- but not enough to put up with its unreliability and the Acer' company's attitude.

  • jusme Says:

    This is just someone's review of the product from nearly 2 years ago ... and a place for "comments". It is not supposed to be a "help" facility, though several have done so.

    Are you using only the battery? This might happen if your battery is low. Plug it in to the wall, let it charge for a while, and try again.

    (For others) Many MANY of the questions asked here can be answered by the user's guide/manual. See Start > All Programs > Acer System > User's guide (or quick user's guide). Look it's a long read, but this is a complex little machine (that I LOVE). Take the time ... it will answer some questions and solve some problems. When all else fails, read the instruction manual.

    I use the machine (SS drive 8G/8G) with an external monitor unless "on the road". Works geat. To make the external monitor work (via the "D" connector on the left side ), hold "Fn" and "F5" down. Now with "Fn" held down, Key "F5" to get the Acer screen only, or Acer + External, External Only, or External at 800x600 resolution (as for a projector, as pictured).

    My USB mouse (generic) worked plug and play. So did my $12 external Logitech USB keyboard from WalMart. Never had any problem (6 mos) until I tried moving the temporary internet file folder (system file) to the "D" drive to "save" the main SSD. When I did this, then occasionally IE7 would close without warning. Don't know why it doesn't like that.

    We must all remember that, unfortunately, the SS drive has a limited lifetime. A heavy user might "tire it out" in a year or two. Would be good to replace it when prices come down and you'll have a "spare" that way if the new one goes out. Natch, you need to copy the system from the old to the new. Might need a geek for that.

    Best to all and good luck with this nice little machine!

  • Laura Ollis Says:

    Does anyone on here ever help, or is this just a place to complain when something won't work correctly?

  • Laura Ollis Says:

    My Acer Aspire One 10.1 will not start up. It gets to the screensaver, then says 'shutting down and saving your settings', and it won't get past that. I tried safe mode, and alt+ F12, and alt + F10. Nothing. Can anyone help?

  • bartlguy Says:

    Having read all of the earlier entries I'm compelled to report that I've had this Acer Aspire One AOA 150-1126 (9" screen, XP, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, 6volt battery) since Nov. '08, and it has worked outstandingly. It's been problem free, but I have not. Occasionally wandering fingers while keyboarding produce unexpected, sometimes inexplicable events ... but that's me hahaha, not the AA1. But here's a question: How recognizable is the performance boost when one increases the RAM to 1.5GB? Mine requires substantial disassembling in order to add the RAM. Is the effort really worth it? Thanks!

  • amanda Says:

    hey all,
    so i just got the acer one world wide partner thing for christmas... i have no clue how to get my internet connetion to work! I have a d-link and it says that my connection is available but when i go to connect it says im unable to connect with it...

    Why is this??? and how can i get my internet working???

    please please please help!! Thanks! =D

  • Paul Martin Says:

    Elo..on my acer aspire one D250 i cant find the ENTER key or keys..such as if your on facebook chat box type a message then press enter to send..where is it on this acer D250 help !!

  • Safiulllah Says:

    Hi Ken,

    They changed hard disc and formatted and installed xp, however, hanging on.

  • mr d archibald Says:

    just one prob NO VOIUME

  • Mike Blais Says:

    The only problem I having with my Acer AspireOne AOA150-1982 is that it does not see the AC power supply while an external monitor is hook up. No free help from Acer Support even though the unit in under warranty. She is a fine little computer even though my friend thinks the screen too small and would like to use an external display but I not sure how to fix this problem.

  • Jag Says:

    Acer Aspire series 1 1.66 does this support window XP...pls some one advise

  • Ken Says:

    How do you reinstall the operating system ?

  • Safiulllah Says:

    I recently bought a Acer Aspire One 0751h, but sent twice to service center for system hanging often, still unable to rectify. I made a blend mistake to choose this product, then what else?.

  • wence Says:

    I love this little machine..definetly a must have... it isn't a desktop.. and shouldn't be treated like one (loading a thousand programs onto it). Really happy t=with this purchase.

  • ddddddddddddddd Says:

    woot i get my aspire today when i get home i hope its as good as u guys and gals say it is

  • ddddddddddddddd Says:

    i should get my aspire today i hope it is as good as it sounds

  • Haggai William Says:

    I have this acer aspire notebook and it worked fine for one day.
    The next morning on attempting to boot it, it goes through the bios and returns an error that it cannot locate the USB connection. It gives two options to boot from USB or from network.
    How do i fix this, the guys i bought it from are telling me they will hav a look at it because it is a unique problem. Any ideas what could be wrong

  • Jennifer Grant Says:

    Can someone please help get my keyboard back to normal? I don't know if it's the green keys or what but I'm typing away and suddenly a calendar pops up or the screen goes back several pages or a letter just won't type. It's driving me nuts! I've played with all the locks - number, scroll etc.

  • emma Says:

    this keyboard is driving me insane. Not because I have big sausage fingers (cause I've come to terms with that). Its the bloomin' at key. It just cant get it to work. I've resorted to copying and pasting someone elses e-mail address and changing it!!!

    Also I am rubbish and bought this laptop cos I thought an idiot like me could use it. I know someones already put some sort of answer to the question but can anyone please put that in leymans terms???

  • amy Says:

    Have they fixed the video playback? I just got a new one and the old one's video the sound was off.

    Also, can you tell me the difference between the 10 inch screen weight and the 9 inch screen weight. I'm debating downsizing acers.

  • Nat Wenberg Says:

    Have no problems ( brand new 2 months ago ) up until now, the power will turn on, but nothing appears on the screen - blank screen!
    Will be sending it back on Monady if until then anyone can help me!?
    Cheers, Nat.

  • Patin Stump Says:

    Hey, well I have one of these, and I tried to enlarge the RAM, but I couldn't, then I found a card slot, not sure what kind of card, but it's located in the battery bey, so you pull out the battery and there will be the card slot an there is a sign, so if anybody could tell me what is than for, or how do I enable it I'd be really thankful. So thanks and goodbye.

  • Melonie Says:

    I have an Acer Aspire One and it was working fine for a week. Then it started getting blue screens when ever I turned it on. It would go to a blue screen saying my memory was being dumped or something like that, then it would restart. I brought it back twice to the place I'm renting it and all they did was put it back to how they got it from the company. It still goes to the blue screen when it has been off for a couple hours. Sometime it will do it once and then start up fine and sometimes it will do it like three times and start up finally. Yesterday I couldn't even get on the Internet b/c it wouldn't connect and I didn't do anything different. I like this computer for the size and it is easy to carry to college and anywhere i want to go with it but it doesn't seem to be working right. I was wondering if I am the only one having this problem and if they know what could be the problem.

  • idcj Says:

    @doc.m: If you have a serial key, you can just copy the office installer pack to SD or any USB based flash drive, and you should be good to go. BUT if you have one of those OEM disks which require you to install from CD only, then you will have a problem. You will have to find a office setup/installer that works without CD, or consider an alternative like

  • doc.m Says:

    Thanks idcj.
    I had xp disks re-installed at PC world, cost me £30. Don't know much how to do these things. Thanks for yous help. Now I want to install MS WORD 2000. Can I copy it to a SD or SDHC card and install the programme in AAO. Will be grateful for your advice. This time I will wait. Not spending another £30!

  • StephB Says:

    Thank you so so so so so much to L for the hint about turning off "pinch"... the zoom control was driving me INSANE!!!!! You have saved my laptop from being thrown out a 3 storey house. x x x x x

  • Acer Aspire One Says:

    Hi idcj,

    Really there is no need to install any for Logitech cordless!!
    Thanks for informing.

  • idcj Says:

    Regarding so many screen blank and non-bootable comments, I think these are h/w issues, hope acer is listening in on this conversation. Return those defective units folks, dont let acer get away with it.

  • idcj Says:

    Mitra & DocM: Have you tried installing your wireless/usb mouse drivers? If its on a CD, you will have to copy it to a usb flash disk, or download the drivers from the vendor website directly. BTW I use a logitech cordless mini, never had to install anything, just works out of the box.

  • Dario Says:

    NUGPIE: I have the same probblem.
    I have had mine for 3 months and when I tried to open today, I can’t see anything on the screen. I don’t think it booted up but I am not getting anything but a quick flash of something on the screen when I hit the power button. The light is on but nothing on screen.
    Anyone else have this problem and solution?

  • S. Maitra Says:

    I have a AAO, bought in NY. OS is XP, RAM 8GB, all ports, SD, Touchpad, all fine and working. I'm in

    UK, PC World, Maplin could not help.

    Want to install a USB MOUSE, or a wireless MOUSE. Any advice? Thanks

  • doc.m Says:

    waiting for someone to answer this. my netbook is AAO a110, XP, 8GB RAM + space for SD for increasing it. How to install a USB or a wireless MOUSE. Bought in NY 1 month back, in UK, thay are advising to change OS.

    Any suggestions?

  • doc.m Says:

    Hi, how clever some of you are. AAO 8GB/XP. Can't get USB mouse working. Touch pad is fine, but
    can't use side bars. Will appreciate suggestions, reommendations. Please advice

  • Ibrahim Says:

    I bought my acer aspire one netbook on easter monday for about N45000 i used it for just 36 hours and it kept on hanging ...after a few hours it stopped booting and the screen eventually got blank.I took it to acer warranty center and they held on to it for about 3 weeks.Now that i have got it back its still hanging ceaselessly ...i am regretting buying this netbook.It seems i have wasting my hard earned cash.If you have any info that could help me get it working perfectly please tell me what i can do... send me an email .

  • Mrs Williams Says:

    Thanks so much for telling me how to turn off the pinch thing. It was driving me mad!


  • idcj Says:

    Hi Sarah, AAO comes with a activated version of XP, just check if you have a windows certificate sticker at the base of your netbook. You just need to register with microsoft with your info. In any case, if you want to revert your netbook to factory installation at any point you just need to press a ctrl + F11 (I think) during boot time to launch the eRecovery process. So you dont need windows CD at all, the windows image is already backed up on your netbook.

  • Sarah Pavitt Says:

    Hi just brought my little acer one today and am very pleased with it's portability! As a uni student this is the main reason i bought the computer! However, i am worried that after my free 60 trial of windows XP runs out, then i am stuck with no way of putting it on my new computer. And i don't particulary want to pay a fortune just to put windows back on it. I already have a windows 07 CD that i can use, but there is no CD drive in the computer!


  • Says:

    any one no how to make a back up from acer 1 let me no,,,thanks

  • NUGPIE Says:

    I have had mine for 4 months and when I tried to open today, I can't see anything on the screen. I don't think it booted up but I am not getting anything but a quick flash of something on the screen when I hit the power button. The light is on but nothing on screen. Anyone else have this problem

  • idcj Says:

    @Joshua: umm... broken link?

  • Joshua Says:

    Hello folks,

    The Easy Peasy Compatibility list could really use some input from you. It seems that you probably have a Acer Aspire One netbook which is on our list but we don't have the details of how it works with Easy Peasy 1.0. Would you guys be willing to help us out with this? If yes, then please follow these simple instructions to input your details.

    We would really appreciate your help. thanks, spread the word :)

  • idcj Says:

    did you check your power settings F3 and take look at "turn off monitor" its usually set to 3 mins on battery, try changing it to longer. If your power light is turned off, it might have hibernated, try powering on again. Hmm.. otherwise cant think of any useful advice..

  • Steph Says:


    I bought an Acer Aspire One 1 month ago and I found a problem that is driving me crazy.
    The screen turns off (like screensaver) but when I try to turn it on, presseing a buton it doesn't turn on. Can someone help me please.
    I call ACER for support but they doesn't know what F... is going on.


  • idcj Says:

    @cathyc: I cannot comment specifically about WordPerfect 10, But I can tell you that I am yet to come across a piece of regular windows software that does not work on AAO.

  • cathyc Says:

    I write for a living and am interested on this for when I'm on the road. What software does it come with, or will it handle a full version of WordPerfect 10, 11 or 12 (don't like Word or Open Office for writing)?


  • icunurse Says:

    I have owned this wonderful A1 netbook for 3 weeks. I realize I need an ext hd so that I can install a few programs I want. It cost me $159.99 at Radio Shack and truthfully I couldn't be happier with its performance! I even watched a movie last night on Netflix's web site.

    You need ext speakers to hear or headphones btw. As for printing, go to the web site of the manufacturer of the printer so you can get to printing and it should work great!

    My purpose for this netbook is that I aqm a travel nurse and pay most of my bills online and also, I trade stocks,bonds and mutual funds online. I have made soe serious $$$ because I can get online faster and execute a trade order far quicker than my desktop.
    Next month I'll be on a travel assignment and I know this is going to be my lifeline all the way!!!!

  • idcj Says:

    @anonn: I somehow feel you dont own one. wireless is the only network I have been using, I use yahoo IM, skype, never seen an issue with live update. And BTW Acer never advertised AAO, so you've got it all wrong. BTW come clean and tell us what brand you own, so that we'll all avoid it. If there is a serious problem, why dont you return your AAO.

    No I'm not associated with Acer in anyway, I'm just a happy user of Aspire One

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