Despite taking a huge chunk of the growing netbook market, the popular Acer Aspire One has a 9-inch screen, rather than the 10-inch type we prefer. At long last, Acer now has a 10-inch model, the Aspire One D150.
The Aspire One series offers neither the best nor the worst netbooks out there, and Acer's market share to date has largely been based on its lower-retail-price strategy. The Aspire One D150, the price of which conforms to that strategy, is available now for around £330.
With the basic netbook set-up of Intel's Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP, you'll get a similar experience to using the , for example, but there are a handful of trade-offs as a result of the D150's lower price.
While the D150's keyboard is large enough for comfortable typing, the tiny touchpad and mouse buttons, which are on a flimsy rocker bar, are painful to use. Also, the extended six-cell battery runs for up to 6 hours, but makes the whole package relatively heavy.
Netbooks were originally intended as cheap, no-frills travel machines, and the D150 fits that bill well, but there are also plenty of slightly more expensive configurations that you can choose to add some polish.
The D150 is available in blue, white, red and black. Our review unit had a glossy lid and a matte, slightly textured finish on the keyboard tray. While the D150 has a footprint similar to other 10-inch netbooks, such as the MSI Wind, it's significantly thicker than the slim Mini 1000, and it's also heavier, thanks to the bulky battery.
The D150 has a larger chassis and screen that the original 9-inch, Linux Aspire One, but the keyboard is virtually identical. Despite not having as comfortable a keyboard as the Samsung NC10 or Mini 1000, we appreciate the inclusion of dedicated page-up and page-down keys.
The touchpad is one of the few clues that this is a budget netbook. It's tiny and square, with a very small rocker bar below it, instead of traditional left and right mouse buttons. Getting it to properly register a click is a pain: you need to press really hard, as the contact seems to be deeply embedded in the chassis.
The 10.1-inch, widescreen, LCD display offers a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is standard for netbooks. It's certainly readable, but most documents and Web pages will require some scrolling. Bright and clear, the increased display size is the main selling point of the D150.
The D150 has a typical set of ports and connections for a lower-end netbook. Trading up to a more expensive system from Lenovo or HP can net you useful extras such as Bluetooth, an ExpressCard slot or even faster 802.11n Wi-Fi. Bluetooth is especially useful for syncing a smart phone for mobile-broadband service.
With Intel's 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU, you get enough computing power for basic tasks, such as Web surfing, working on documents, and some basic multimedia playback.
As expected, the D150 performs on a par with more expensive, recently released netbooks, such as the . It's also slightly faster than , which is saddled with Windows Vista. We'll soon be seeing the first laptops with a faster version of the Intel Atom chip, the N280, which may expose some major fault lines in netbook performance (or not, as small clock-speed bumps are often inconsequential).
The system ran for an impressive 6 hours and 17 minutes on our video-playback battery-drain test, using the included six-cell battery. Note that our test unit had a slightly beefed-up battery compared to that with which the D150 will ship with (5,800mAh as opposed to 4,400mAh), but we expect that you'll still get over 5 hours with the official battery.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The budget Acer Aspire One D150 is a decent performer that gives more expensive rivals a run for their money. Some design trade-offs have been made to achieve its relatively low price, but we expect the D150 to further cement Acer's leading netbook market share.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet