By Heather Wardell
As my previous laptop began to near the end of its lifespan, I began looking for a replacement. As a writer, I need portability for writing anywhere I feel like, but I also like a computer with good graphics and sound for video games. In the end, I replaced the laptop with two computers: an HP desktop and an Acer Aspire One netbook. This review focuses on the netbook.
I was frankly skeptical that a machine that fits into my purse would be able to do what I needed. But I fell in love with the Acer Aspire One at the store and couldn't talk myself out of buying it. Consumer tip: If you, too, are the type of person who names your gadgets, do not name a gadget before buying it, because after that you'll have to have it whether you want it or not.
"I have never been so unimpressed with a company."
Mine is the Aspire One 8.9, with a screen measuring 8.9" diagonally (hence the catchy name). (There is also an Aspire One 10.1, but the store where I shopped didn't have them.) The entire unit is 9.8" long, 6.7" wide, and just over an inch thick when closed. Figure A shows the Aspire One sitting beside my old 15" laptop for size comparison.FIGURE A
The Aspire One is significantly smaller than my old 15" laptop. (click for larger image)
The 2.2-pound Aspire One comes with either an 8GB or 16GB solid state hard drive or a 120GB traditional hard drive. Since I intend to use it almost exclusively for writing, I went with the cheaper 8GB drive. The netbook came with Windows XP (a Linux version is also available), and now that I've loaded it with Microsoft Office, anti-virus software, my three previously finished novels, the myriad of files for my current one, and MP3s of the two CDs I listen to while writing, I have only 615 megabytes free.
However, the unit has one SD card reader and one multi-card reader built in, and came with an 8GB card, so I'm not concerned about space at this time.
The three-cell battery is supposed to offer approximately three hours' life, and that seems to be pretty much accurate. I use the device on its lowest (but still easy to see) brightness setting, which helps with battery life.
The screen, obviously, is small, but I find it functional. I have moved the Windows taskbar to the right-hand side of the screen to maximize the vertical space, and that helps. Figure B shows a screen shot of the device, with my first novel (available for free download from my Web site!) open in Microsoft Word's Read layout.