Here Come the AMD Netbooks: Hands-on with Acer Aspire One 521 and Gateway LT2203

Up until now AMD has steered clear of 10-inch netbooks, focusing more on ultralight systems with 11.6 inch or larger screens. But here at the Netbook Summit the company was showing off three 10-inch mini laptops, the Acer Aspire One 521, and the Gateway LT22 and LT2203. There are subtle difference between the three systems, but they all feature AMD's 1.2-GHz V105 processor paired with ATI Radeon HD 4225 graphics (running Windows 7 Starter). The chipmaker claims that users should expect comparable performance to netbooks equipped with Nvidia Ion 2 technology. However, based on our brief hands-on time with the three machines we'd say that the jury is out.

Check out our impressions, videos, and gallery below.

On one of the netbooks AMD was playing a 1080p HD video from Microsoft's WMV showcase, and it looked fairly smooth. And since all three of these systems have HDMI output, you would be able to enjoy full high-def quality on a larger monitor. The screens themselves are limited to 1024 x 600 pixels. On the second machine we played a little bit of Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online, and the flyovers and 3D animation were both good. Then we fired up some 480p Hulu on the Aspire One 521, and playback was better than the typical Atom-only netbook but not quite as fluid as an Ion-equipped machine (though that could have been a function of the Internet connection).

There's no official word yet on pricing, but AMD says they expect the Aspire One 521 and Gateway LT22 (both of which have a 1.2-GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive) to run less than $400. And the Gateway LT2203, which has a larger 250GB hard drive, should command a small premium. Stay tuned for a full review soon. AMD claims that these netbooks should be able to get up to 7 hours of battery life, which would be quite an improvement over Neo systems we tested previously.

Acer Aspire One 521


Gateway LT2203


Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.