This refurbished Acer One netbook from Tiger Direct arrived just before I was hospitalized a month ago, so I haven’t had much chance to look at it until yesterday. For the $230 I paid, it’s a darned impressive little computer.
It’s so light – two pounds with the 3-cell battery – that it just about disappears in my backpack. The keyboard is dinky but not difficult to type on. I’d hate to write a novel on it, but it’s fine for blogging, note-taking, and email. Battery life seems to be about two hours, which is fine for meetings and casual use. But you’d want the 6-cell battery for extended use without the (very small) power adapter.
The screen is bright and clear. At 1024 x 600, there’s not a lot of room for superfluous junk. This is significant because it seems to ship with every toolbar known to man already enabled, leaving you about eight pixels for content. As Edward Tufte said, “The scarcest computing resource is not CPU cycles or hard drive space, but screen real estate.” So you’ll be turning off toolbars and hiding the Start bar and stuff like that. And remember, the F11 key is your friend.
It came with Windows XP home, but with a 106gb hard drive, you just know I’ll be dual-booting it with possibly Ubuntu Netbook Remix or Moblin, which is optimized to work with the Intel Atom processor.
It also has a gig of ram, an SD card reader and a multi-card reader. The wireless works fine and it seems to handle going to sleep and waking up easily. There’s a little switch in front for turning off the wireless, so you don’t waste power connecting when it isn’t needed. It has an external VGA output for presentations, an RJ-45 Ethernet connection, headphone and mic jacks, and three, count ‘em three USB ports, all on the right and left sides.
It took me a while to get the trial version of Microsoft Office uninstalled – who needs it? – and all my favorite apps installed. These include: Firefox, Google Chrome, FileZilla, Notepad++, Open Office, Foxit Reader, McAfee Antivirus, JKDefrag, the Cisco VPN, our university drive mapping utilities, XnView and Picasa. It runs all of them OK, not blazing fast or anything but not objectionably slow either.
Some irritations: it’s too easy to accidentally brush the trackpad and misplace your cursor; I sure would like an option to auto-disable it when an external mouse is plugged in. The fan runs all the time, though there may be a bios setting for that. You might want to get a shorter cord for the tiny power adapter. Is it a substitute for a Thinkpad X-301? Well no, but at something like one-eighth the price, I can live with that.