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Acer Aspire One D250: Hands-on with the dual-boot Android and Windows netbook

Acer is swinging both ways with a new netbook that runs Android for quick access to the Web and Windows for a more high-powered typing fest

Flora Graham
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We can only imagine how the Acer Aspire One D250 netbook feels -- when it's running Android, it has Windows trapped in its head, screaming to get out. When it's running Windows, the little green robot is stuck in the attic like Mrs Rochester, begging for its screen space back. It's the curse of the dual-boot netbook.

Acer is pitching its first dual-boot Android/Windows netbook as the pub-quiz solution. When you need to Google something right piggin' now,  you can turn on the Aspire One and it will boot to Android in 30 seconds -- and it only needs three seconds to turn off. That's not lightning fast (Linux can get up and running in 10) but it's much quicker than fat, bloated old Windows.

When you're sick of clicking around a user interface that was designed to be used with your fingers on a tiny touchscreen mobile phone, you can click a shortcut and launch Windows.

This little beast with multiple personalities has a 1.60GHz Atom N270 CPU and 1GB of RAM, but Acer tells us that there will be a higher-specced version available that will only go one way: the Windows way. We guess that'll be an updated version of the Windows-only D250 already on sale, but it might have a different model number.

The Aspire One will launch at the end of October, just after Microsoft releases Windows 7. There'll be two dual-boot flavours: Android/Windows 7 Starter Edition for £299 and Android/Windows XP for £279.

Click 'Continue' for our hands-on pics of the Acer Aspire One D250.

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By default, the Acer Aspire One D250 boots to Google's Android operating system. Ignore the oddly small desktop image -- the OS fills the whole netbook screen. On the right-hand side is the tab that launches the Android menu.
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The user interface of the Aspire One looks like bog-standard Android, like we've seen on mobile phones, but you click on things instead of poking them rudely with a fingertip. Unfortunately that means some standard user-interface actions we're used to using in Windows -- such as hitting the Esc key to cancel a dialogue box -- won't work in Android.
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The Android menu has a shortcut icon for switching to Windows -- click it and you're on your way to Winville. Needless to say, it takes some time for Windows to boot up.
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Once you're in Windows 7, it's not quite so clear how to get back to Android, but everything runs as it should on this attractive netbook.
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The slim, landscape design is very portable, and thankfully matched our nail varnish too. Stay tuned for a full review of this netbook with two faces.

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