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Hands-on: Acer Aspire One D255 Combines Dual-core Atom, Android OS

We just got our hands on Acer's newest netbook, the 10-inch Aspire One D255, which comes with a 1.5-GHz dual-core Atom N550 CPU and dual boots between Windows 7 Starter and Android 1.6. On the surface, the D255 looks like many other Acers systems we've seen. Its lid is a shiny black plastic, emblazoned with the Aspire one logo. Inside, it has the standard Acer chicklet keyword, a small touchpad that has the same exact texture as the palmrest, and a single mouse button. We appreciated the large power button above the Esc key, but other than that nothing really stands out about the design.

It's the multiple operating systems that make this dual-personality netbook intriguing.

When we first booted the system, the D255 went straight into Windows 7 Starter, but on the desktop is an icon for Acer Configuration Manager for Android that you can use to configure whether or not the system boots into Google Android. Fascinated by the opportunity to try Android on a netbook, we configured the utility to boot to Android and restarted the machine.

After using Android for a few minutes on the Aspire One D255, we're not impressed. First of all, since the screen does not support touch gestures and the netbook doesn't have Android navigation buttons, we had to figure out that hitting Esc is the equivalent of the back button and right clicking on the mouse is the equivalent of the setup button.

There aren't many apps preinstalled - no Google Maps or Gmail - and worse still, there's no marketplace app. However, there is a file manager that will help you sideload apps.

There are also two different Web browsers. On the desktop is an icon that says WWW that launches a version of Firefox called Shiretoko which sits in its own environment and can't interact with the other apps. If you try to copy and paste text from its address window, that text won't be available in Android. You also can't multitask between the Firefox and Android, because you have to close it in order to switch apps. However, the application menu has an icon for the stock Android browser.

Why did Acer install the Firefox browser? Apparently, it can do things like running Flash and uploading files that the stock Android 1.6 browser cannot.

We'll be doing more extensive testing on the Acer Aspire One D255 later, but for now, check out our hands-on video below.

The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.