Mike Adams


To kick off ”Netbook Week” at the UC Davis TechTalk blog, I have decided first take a look at the Acer Aspire One. There are several different models of the Aspire One, and the one the TechHub carries is the Blue 160GB version for $329. While I still prefer my MacBook, I am a HUGE fan of this tiny machine. We have come a long ways, and we now have a fully functioning computer in a size you can easily throw in a purse or backpack.

Now before I get into the meat and potatoes of this article, let’s take a look at the overall system specs for this unit:

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM (upgradable to 1.5GB)
  • 160GB Hard Drive
  • Sapphire Blue
  • VGA output port
  • 3 USB Ports
  • Wireless 802.11 b/g
  • Built-in Ethernet 10/100 Base T
  • Windows XP Home
  • Intel GMA 950 (64MB shared video memory)
  • 8.9” CrystalBrite WSVGA Display
  • Dimensions: 1.1″ x 9.8″ x 6.7″ (See Figure 1A for visual comparisons)
Figure 1A

Figure 1A

Looking at the processor, the Atom does not stack up next to the Core 2 Duo in terms of computing power, but what it makes lacks in power it makes up for in power consumption. The Atom processor is perfect for a machine like this, meaning that because the Atom processor consumes less power than the Core 2 Duo, you get a longer battery life. Battery life is supposed to get up to 5 hours of battery life at the optimized minimalistic settings, but in reality gets between 2-3 hours at normal settings. But, this is a 3-Cell battery, so that’s a pretty good life span for something so small.

The Acer with Display On.

The Acer with Display On.

There is plenty of room to store items with a 160GB hard drive. This 9.8” machine holds twice the amount of data compared to my MacBook…I’m a little jealous. Speaking of comparisons to my MacBook, the Acer Aspire One holds the same exact video card that is also in my MacBook (the Intel GMA 950). It’s nothing fancy, but it runs my World of Warcraft just fine.

With all this room, you figure there would be an optical drive to install software to fill it up. Unfortunately you would be wrong, but seriously…you can’t get everything for $329. In order to rectify this, you can always purchase an inexpensive external CD/DVD reader and the cost of both would still be significantly cheaper than standard laptops. Another issue I have with the computer is its size, which is both a positive and negative I suppose. While it is great for throwing in a bag, it is horrible for long term typing. The keyboard, while fully functional, is not a full sized keyboard so expect some cramping and mistyping. (See Figure 1B.)

Figure 1B

Figure 1B

And while we are looking at the overall size, let’s face it, the actual trackpad on the unit is ridiculously small. The left and right click buttons are almost unusable. An external mouse is almost required for use with this machine. In the end though, for $329, this machine is awesome. It comes loaded with Windows XP (which is always a plus with me), the processor is pretty decent, battery life is good, and while I feel the keyboard is small, it is still larger enough to consider it fully functional…just don’t type your thesis on it.


  • Price is excellent.
  • Fully functional computer in a 10” size.
  • Lots of hard drive.
  • Comes loaded with Windows XP.
  • Decent battery life, especially for a 3-Cell battery.
  • Overall excellent value.


  • Small keyboard makes for uncomfortable typing over long periods of time.
  • Trackpad so small I feel it is almost unusable. (But again, what else should be expected for a unit this small. Just buy an external mouse…there are 3 USB ports for goodness sake.)
  • No optical drive.