Aug 26th 2008

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Acer Aspire One A110

For some time now I have been pondering over the purchase of the new wave of affordable netbooks. I was first inspired by the Asus EEE 700 but after seeing a few purchased by clients I decided that the 7" screen would hinder me.

The 900 had the screen I wanted but had edged considerably over the £200 I wanted to spend and the smaller capacity battery in the UK models disturbed me, I found myself waiting for the Atom based 901 but again this was above my ideal price point.

Then this bank holiday I noted that Currys had a special offer on for the Acer Aspire One at £199. My debit card got the better of me and before I knew what was happening I had left the store with one tucked under my arm.

Overall I am pretty impressed, The default installation of Linpus is perfectly functional. The launcher desktop is strange, but once you figure out how to add more icons it grows on you. The rest of it is pretty much stock fedora 8.

I have a few tips in the tips and tricks section that tweak a bit more performance out of it.

I haven't had much hands on experience with the EEE 900/901 but compared to the 700's I have played with I would say it makes for sound competition. The screen is fantastic, The keyboard is better than the EEE range. The battery isn't great, beating an EEE 900 in UK spec with the 4400MaH battery but somewhat trounced by the 901. On my first charge with wifi on I managed a little over 2 and a half hours...not great.

Build quality feels solid and if anything better than the EEE, The Acer is made by quanta so it might even end up being a similar chassis to the Dell offering. I like the inclusion of two card readers (one an SD only unit that on the default installation extends the existing storage) and one multiway unit to be used to read cards from cameras etc.

Things I don't like include the major stripdown required to add more ram, the mediocre webcam (although it does do quite well in low light) and to get the same battery life as reported on the EEE 901 you would need to spend a further £60 on the 6 cell upgrade.

Overall I think this has the EEE 700 and 900 pretty much licked, if you want the battery life though you need to either spend more on an EEE 901 or invest in the upgraded battery, both of which will cost you about the same. Then the 901 probably wins thanks to the extra storage.

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