With Intel's new 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU, specifically designed for low-power Netbooks, you're not going to find the same level of performance you'd get from even an inexpensive Core 2 Duo laptop. The Linux-based system wasn't able to run our usual suite of benchmarks (which use Windows and Mac applications such as iTunes, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Photoshop), but even the light Linux OS felt occasionally sluggish (thanks, in part, to having only 512MB of RAM) when using the preinstalled Open Office suite of productivity software, although Web surfing was generally trouble-free. For everyday use, however, our anecdotal tests showed that it offers a faster, smoother experience than another $399 Netbook we recently looked at, the Sylvania G Netbook.
The Acer Aspire One ran for 2 hours and 14 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included 3-cell battery. That's barely more than the MSI Wind, which was also saddled with a puny 3-cell battery--and the biggest flaw for both systems. MSI plans to upgrade its battery to a 6-cell version in the near future, and Acer offers a 6-cell battery that we've seen online for $119--a large premium for such an inexpensive laptop.
The Aspire One includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, and Acer has set up a separate mini-site for the Aspire One, including a page labeled "drivers and support." Unfortunately, that support page, and its subpages, have no content aside from a note that says, "Updates coming soon." The regular Acer Web site has some FAQs and driver downloads, but the tech support number is impossible to find (it's 800-816-2237), and the phone support hours are only 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT weekdays, and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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Acer Aspire One
Linpus Linux Lite v1.0.2.E; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Mobile Intel 945GME Express; 8GB solid-state hard drive.
Windows XP Home Edition SP2; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 12GB Phison solid-state hard drive.
GNU Linux; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Mobile Intel 945 Express; 40GB Phison solid-state hard drive.
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 80GB Western Digital 5400rpm.
Linux; 1.2GHz VIA C7-M; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; VIA UniChrome Pro IGP; 30GB HDD.