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We don't expect every new gadget to completely change the face of technology, but we do like to see at least some progress when we unwrap the latest parcel from the postman. Progress in the world of netbooks seems sluggish these days, so the Acer Aspire One 522 is very welcome. This 10.1-inch machine offers a better-than-usual screen, an HDMI port and a dual-core AMD processor -- all for £250 or thereabouts.
Reach for the sky
The 522's design is very pleasant, if unremarkable. Except for a blue LED that surrounds the power switch, the netbook looks charmingly understated. It comes in either black or green. Our green version looked rather classy, thanks to the glossy finish on the lid and the metallic effect on the wrist rest.
The screen is surrounded by a glossy black plastic bezel, and the keyboard stretches right up to the edges of the chassis.
We were impressed by how light this netbook is. Our model tipped the scales at a modest 1.2kg, including its three-cell lithium-ion battery. A version with a six-cell battery is also available, weighing 1.3kg.
You won't have any trouble squeezing this netbook into a satchel, backpack or handbag, thanks to its slender dimensions. It measures 259 by 26 by 185mm. Peering at it from the side, the 522 indeed looks quite slim.
User not abused
A netbook lives and dies by its keyboard. After all, what's the point in buying a netbook if you're going to end up making so many typing mistakes that you'll feel like snapping it over your knee?
Happily, the 522's keyboard is rather good. We didn't notice the keyboard wobbling as we rattled off sentences, and indeed the whole chassis feels reassuringly solid.
There are a few issues, though. The enter and delete keys are really small, and that's bound to get irritating. There's also a small gap between each key, so you'll need to take care not to scatter crumbs over the keyboard, or they may vanish inside the 522 forever.
The trackpad is better than that of most netbooks. While it's fairly small, the click buttons are comfortable to use and not too stiff.