capsule review

Acer Aspire One AOD150

At a Glance
  • Acer Aspire One AOD150

    PCWorld Rating

    This new, bigger Aspire One makes a few changes from the original--most notably a larger screen a longer battery life.

(Updated 3/3/2009 with new battery test scores.)

I love it when a company sees fit to shake things up a little and cook up some crazy new design. The Acer Aspire One AOD150 is not that netbook. In fact, many of the changes made from the original Aspire One make the AOD150 seem more like everything else on the market. And that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Seem a little harsh? Let me put this in perspective: The original, 8.9-inch screen model packed a huge keyboard onto a fairly tiny frame. That keyboard was practically dripping over the sides and I was genuinely impressed for the effort. Here, with its new 10.1-inch screen (which looks great), I'd expect a little more room to work with. Instead, you get the same still-short-of-full-size keyboard. It's not tiny, but Acer could've made an effort to space out the buttons a little more.

The next big switchup is the touchpad. At first glance, I was ready to dance a jig because the left and right buttons flanking the touchpad surface were gone. Just a single, simple mouse button bar. In and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing. But then I tried using it. Exerting a shaolin monk's concentration, you need to really want to hit that button in order to get it working. With very little give, it's hard to know when you've made contact and the way that it's recessed into the wrist rest makes it a little more difficult to use than the mouse on the first Aspire One. At least the new touchpad has a multitouch functionality, so that scrolling and browsing is a little less headache-inducing.

The only other change for the (slightly) worse is the second-gen Aspire One ditches the original's second SDHC Card slot. Not a major bummer, because this machine has a reasonably large 160GB hard disk drive.

Now, back to that new 10.1-inch display: I really do love this 1024-by-600-pixel screen. It's crisp, with good color reproduction and, quite frankly, it feels like this machine was built around the gorgeous screen. Its dimensions are relatively slim (one thing that hasn't changed too much from the original) measuring 10.2 by 8.0 by 1.31 inches. That makes it slighter than comparable netbooks with a 10.1-inch screen. The Aspire One is also very solidly constructed, ready to get knocked around in a bag.

The second-generation Aspire One's performance is in line with what we'd expect from its components: 1GB of RAM and a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU. It achieved a score of 35 in our PC WorldBench 6 tests, an average score based on what we've seen with this configuration in other netbooks.

One thing that isn't quite standard is the battery that came with our machine. Our test unit arrived with a 5800mAH battery. Don't get too excited, though: This battery will not be a standard config in any of the units here in the U.S., and Acer doesn't even know when this longer-life battery will be available separately. The standard configuration usually comes with a 6-cell 4400mAH battery. Usually.

Here's where it gets goofy: According to a spokesperson, in the hurry to get units to store shelves, some of the machines shipped with higher-powered batteries, instead of the standard. It's like some kind of Willy Wonka move, but instead of a golden ticket, you have a chance you'll get a better battery and not get charged for it.

If you get lucky, you'll be thrilled: In the PC World Test Center's battery life test, the Aspire One lasted an amazing 8 hours, 34 minutes with the supercharged battery. Since the odds are more likely you'll get the 4400mAH power, though, we are scoring this machine based upon the reasonably impressive 6 hours, 38 minutes. It's funny -- last time around the Aspire One got dinged for its poor battery life and celebrated for its large keyboard. This time around it's almost the reverse. Am I in Bizzaro world?

The software on the machine is fairly minimal. The only things of note here are a 30-day trial for an online backup solution (my advice, Acer: check out what Asus is doing -- its netbook comes with 10GB of free online storage for 18 months) and eSobi, a news and RSS feed reader.

Not much else has changed, though, between the two Aspire One models. The ports are the same: Three USB 2.0 ports, VGA out, ethernet jack, webcam and microphone . . . it even has the same $350 price tag. And honestly, I think a good chunk of that money went into the screen. It shows. But at the end of the day, I feel like the Aspire One moved on, but I'm not 100 percent sold that the developers have taken these guys in the right direction.

The new Acer Aspire One has some strong points, but even better netbooks are on the market now, and more are on the way. If you want in on the battery lottery for the long-life battery, then go for it, but even the included battery will give you solid day-long performance, That said, I'd still recommend that you take a peek at what Asus offers with the Eee PC 1000HE. I'm digging that netbook a whole lot more and it only costs a few dollars more.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This new, bigger Aspire One makes a few changes from the original--most notably a larger screen a longer battery life.

    Pros

    • Impressive battery life
    • Impressive battery life

    Cons

    • Fighting to get the mouse button working
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