Acer Aspire One Android netbook review

Reviews 12 Jan, 2011

Is there any point in having Android on a netbook? Read our review of Acer's latest Aspire One netbook to find out.

4
Price: 
£224
ex VAT
Verdict: 
There's little point in buying the Aspire One to use Android which isn't of much use on a netbook for most people. However, when used with Windows 7, the Aspire One is generally a pleasure to use thanks to its long battery life and responsive, comfortable keyboard. If you want extras such as integrated Bluetooth, a SDXC card slot and a matt display, then it may be worth paying £40 more for the Samsung NF210 if you can live with that model's slightly shorter battery life.

Netbooks have always come preloaded with an alternative to the dominant operating system on larger, more powerful computers. In the case of modern netbooks, this has tended to be Windows 7 Starter which has fewer features than the other, more capable versions of Windows 7. However, Acer's latest netbook not only comes with Windows 7 Starter, but the smartphone operating system Android 2.1 as well.

The Aspire One boots into Android almost instantly compared to the 30 seconds or so it takes to boot into Windows 7. Unfortunately there are currently few other advantages to using Android on the Aspire One. Since Acer's netbook hasn't been authorised by Google, the Aspire One doesn't come preloaded with the Android Market, making it trickier to install third-party Android apps.

Also missing are most of Google's own Android apps. This is a serious omission for most business users, since this means Google's Exchange-capable email and calendar apps are missing. Acer has also made little effort to adapt the touchscreen Android operating system for use with a keyboard and touchpad. There's little support for keyboard shortcuts, Android apps can't be mirrored onto a connected monitor or projector and there's no system-wide printing, for example.

A Windows Explorer-style file manager app has been added to make it easier to find your files. There's also a version of Firefox preinstalled, but both its interface and its speeds at rendering web pages feel sluggish compared to Android's usual WebKit-based browser which is still available. These apps are poor substitutes for full and easy access to the Android Market. Despite Acer having included Android 2.1, all these limitations make it feel like an older, less capable version such as 1.6.

Specifications: 

Processor: Intel Atom N550, 1.5GHz

Memory: 1GB 667MHz DDR3 RAM

Graphics: Intel GMA 3150

Hard disk: 250GB hard disk

Display: 10.1in 1,024 x 600 pixels, LED-backlit screen

Features: 1.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet

Ports: 3 x USB2, VGA output, 3.5mm headphone and microphone audio sockets

Dimensions: 259x184x30mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 1.14kg

Warranty: 1yr C&R warranty

OS: Windows 7 Starter

Part code: AOD255-N55DQws (LU.SDK0D.021)