Just a few months ago, Acer launched the first 10-inch version of its Aspire One netbook, the D150. It's a good machine, but it has its limitations: a terrible touchpad, bulky dimensions (due to its six-cell battery) and a keyboard that's positively cramped compared with the competition. The Aspire One D250 weighs less and is thinner than the D150 because it has a three-cell battery. Its specifications, in terms of processor, hard drive and RAM, are identical, but the D250's more compact design makes it feel less like a budget product.
The D250 is available now for around £300.
Our review unit came in red, but black, blue and white versions are also available. The D250's glossy finish attracts fingerprints, but not outrageously so. The screen hinge, where the bulk of the battery is housed, is matte black and lies relatively flush with the rest of the machine. Inside, the black keyboard is housed in red plastic with a finish that looks like brushed metal, while the glossy 10.1-inch screen is surrounded by shiny black plastic.
While it's a decent-looking machine, it doesn't particularly stand out as ground-breaking in any way, unlike Asus' stylish Eee PC 1008HA Seashell. On the other hand, the Seashell costs significantly more, at around £375.
The keyboard feels comfortable to type on but it's far from being full size, and it's more cramped than that of the HP Mini 110 or Samsung N120. The keyboard could have gone fully from one edge to the other, and we really hope Acer makes this shift in the future. The touchpad is definitely an improvement on that of the D150, though. While it's still tiny and inset, the bottom rocker button is much easier to click than before.
The 10.1-inch widescreen LED-backlit LCD offers a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen of this size. Colours are sharp, and text and icons are crisp.
The stereo speakers are weak, both in terms of volume and sound quality. While it's not surprising for a netbook, headphones are almost a must.
The D250 sports the same budget, no-frills ports as the D150. While three USB 2.0 jacks is a generous amount, there's no Bluetooth connectivity. For about the same price, the 110, while thicker in size, includes Bluetooth as well as a fuller edge-to-edge keyboard. You'll have to look to more expensive netbooks for features like 802.11n Wi-Fi or ExpressCard slots.
The D250's Intel Atom N270 processor is the same one that's seen across the netbook world, and there's nothing else under the hood that's surprising for an Atom netbook: the D250 sports a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. For basic Web surfing, media viewing and office productivity tasks, it works perfectly well.
Performance in our benchmark tests was similar to that of N270 netbooks from other manufacturers, including more expensive models. Unsurprisingly, the D250 doesn't handle streaming of hi-def video well -- you're better off sticking to downloaded files or in-browser YouTube.
When it comes to netbook batteries, the most common choice is between a three-cell and a six-cell model. Three-cell batteries are thinner but generally last 2 to 3 hours, while six-cell batteries are thicker and can last for around 5 hours. The D250 ran for 1 hour and 50 minutes in our video-playback battery-drain test using the included three-cell battery.