gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Acer Announce Audacious Aspire One

Okay, so perhaps it’s not that audacious but it’s certainly got looks on its side compared to the competition so far. The Aspire One is Acer’s first entry into the exploding new Netbook market and sports, unsurprisingly, the Intel Atom processor that allows it to run cool, quiet and with minimal power requirements. If it hits at the touted £200 price tag for the lowest spec Linux version then it could easily be labelled an Eee PC killer. “Aspire One” is an awful lot less painful to type, for starters.

Aside from its cracking good looks there are a few little bonuses to separate the Aspire One from the competition. The 8.9″ 1024×600 resolution screen is comfortable for its size and doesn’t look “cheap” like the one on the Eee. Optional built in WiMAX or 3g are huge bonuses alongside the obligatory 802.11b/g WiFi. In fact any Netbook caught without at least optional 3g support has been officially caught with its pants down.

Two storage options are available; 8gb of solid state NAND flash or an 80GB internal HDD. Linpus Linux Lite and Windows XP Home are the operating system choices and there are 512mb and 1gb RAM versions.

The two available media card slots are drool-worthy, however the second slot is SD-only and any SD card inserted is instantly merged with onboard storage expanding the user space on the 8gb Linux option with the space on the card. There’s no word yet what will happen if the SD card plugged in here fails or is removed and used elsewhere; my best guess is that this would be a very bad idea. The other media card slot supports SD, MMC, RS-MMC, MS, MS PRO, xD and, with an adaptor, miniSD, microSD, MS Duo and MS Pro Duo. Pretty much everything, then?

Linpus Linux Lite will come pre-installed with OpenOffice 2.3, Aspire one Mail and Messenger whereas Windows XP Home will boast Acer eRecovery Management, Acer Launch Manager, Adobe Reader, McAfee Internet Security Suite and a Microsoft Office 2007 Trial. I, for one, will never buy a Netbook pre-installed with XP Home but the choice is yours!

Giving black a miss the Aspire One will initially be available in a very fetching blue dubbed “Sapphire Blue” and plain old white. In future “Golden Brown” and “Coral Pink” options will be available; could we have “Deep Red” and “Gamecube Purple”, please, Acer?

Time to get technical:

The Atom CPU clocks in at 1.60 GHz with a not-too-shabby 533 MHz FSB, this is backed up by the Mobile Intel 945GSE Express Chipset and the Mobile Intel 82801GBM Chipset

All models boast 512 MB of onboard SDRAM, the 1gb version comes with an additional 512mb soDIMM installed and can subsequently be upgraded to 1.5gb with a 1gb soDIMM. This means you will probably want to opt for the 512mb version and upgrade it yourself. The RAM is single channel so a 512×2 configuration offers no speed benefit over the 1.5gb configuration.

The screen is a 262,000 color LED backlit, 8.9″ TFT LCD capable of 1024 x600 native resolution which is more than adequate for such a small device.

In the audio department there are built-in stereo speakers and a built-in digital microphone neither or which are likely to be groundbreaking but are worth having.

The aspire One comes in varying sizes and weights depending on configuration but clocks in at a paltry 249x185x36mm and 1.26kg with a hard disk driv and 6-cell battery pack. The 3-cell NAND option is slightly lighter at 995g and is just 170mm deep and 29mm thick. The extra size and weight are accounted for mostly by the larger 6-cell battery which will be available as an optional accessory that you will most likely want to pick up. The NAND version will allegedly run for a decent 7 hours with the 6-cell, you can’t really complain about that!

Unlike the Dell Mini Inspiron the Aspire One has opted to keep 12 function keys on the keyboard but has moved the touchpad buttons to the side of the touchpad. If it supports tap-to-click then this is almost a non-issue but it seems like an odd design choice. Any chance of a nipple-mouse option? It can’t be that difficult!

A healthy three USB 2.0 ports and VGA pot, plus Ethernet, Line-in and Line-out give the Aspire One enough connectivity; however I can’t help but wish for HDMI.

Yes, the webcam is a paltry 0.3 megapixels. This doesn’t bother me but in an age where feature-phones all have in excess of 1 megapixel it’s a little skimpy.

Overall the Acer Aspire One is a fantastic looking device with impressive specifications. The built-in mobile data connectivity and storage expandability could make it a serious contender in the business market, if I ever manage to get my hands on one rest assured that Gadgetoid will see a complete review.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008, Personal Computing.