The Aspire One line of Netbooks has long been a bright spot in Acer's laptop lineup, thanks to the company's firm commitment to rock-bottom prices and decent, if unexciting, design and construction. The latest version, called the Acer Aspire One D260-23797 (one of several fixed configurations of the D260, each with slightly different components), scores points for being small, thin, and light, even for a 10-inch Netbook, despite having a decent-size keyboard and touch pad.
Currently available for $329 (but we've seen it previously for as little as $299), the D260 is right in the mainstream of entry-level Netbook prices, despite the good looks and smart design. Even more interesting, this is the first Netbook we've seen with the newer Intel Atom N475 CPU, instead of the more common N450 version. This new CPU runs at 1.83GHz, instead of the N450's 1.66GHz, but it didn't help the Acer Aspire D260 feel any faster than typical Netbooks; in anecdotal use, it actually felt more sluggish than we expected.
Of course, even fast Netbooks are still pretty basic machines, good for Web surfing, e-mail, and not much more. If you're most concerned with size and weight, the D260 is an appealing package with good battery life, but we'd also suggest checking out thefor a better overall take on the high-design, low-cost Netbook.
|Price as reviewed||$329|
|Processor||1.83GHz Intel Atom N475|
|Memory||1GB, 1333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||250GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Starter|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.2 x 7.3 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.7/3.1 pounds|
The most notable design feature of the Acer Aspire One D260 is how small it is. Though the actual difference between it and other 10-inch Netbook bodies may be minuscule, at these small sizes every fraction of an inch counts.
Cast in dark businesslike gray, with straight lines and minimal flash, the D260 looks more buttoned-down than some of the curvier, more-colorful Netbooks we've seen, making it a good nondescript office companion.
The gray interior is offset by a black keyboard, which uses the current Acer/Gateway style of large, flat-topped, closely spaced keys. Most Netbook makers have moved to an island-style keyboard, which is similar, but with more space between the actual keys, which we find to be a little easier to use. The end result certainly packs the most key surface area into the least amount of space, but it took us a little while to get the hang of error-free typing.
The touch pad is generous for this system's small size, but mostly because it's wider than it is high. The feel of the pad was good, but the left and right mouse buttons are relegated to a thin rocker bar, rather than separate buttons.
The 10.1-inch display has a native resolution of 1,024x600 pixels, which is standard for 10-inch basic Netbooks--although slightly more-expensive models can be found with 1,366x768-pixel displays. The display was less glossy than many we've seen, which is good for avoiding excess screen glare, but we also noted that off-axis viewing (both horizontally and vertically) was iffy.
|Acer Aspire One D260||Average for category [Netbook]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
There are no real surprises in the ports and connections on the Acer Aspire D260, or in its RAM and hard drive, but we were pleasantly surprised to find the latest version of Intel's Atom CPU. The 1.8GHz Intel Atom N475 is technically a faster chip than the 1.6GHz N450 version found in most Netbooks, at least on paper.
In practice there was only a minimal improvement in our benchmark tests, and premium Netbooks with AMD's latest Neo CPUs were much faster (but also more expensive). In hands-on use, the system felt largely on par with other Intel Atom Netbooks, but despite the slightly better benchmark scores, we had occasional bouts of sluggishness.
As with most standard Netbooks, video playback isn't a strong suit, especially streaming online video. Locally hosted 480p video files play back fine, but Hulu and YouTube videos stuttered at 720p and even a bit at 480p when played in full-screen mode.