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Acer Aspire One Happy review

Ketaki Bhojnagarwala | Updated on September 26, 2011 Published on March 16, 2011

CHENNAI, 11/03/2011: A view of Acer Aspire One Happy laptop. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

CHENNAI, 11/03/2011: A view of Acer Aspire One Happy laptop. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

Hawaiian Blue, Lavender Purple, Lime Green and Candy Pink - if colours like these are in this season, why should you limit your fashion sense to your wardrobe? The latest in Acer's Aspire One series of netbooks is the ‘Happy' range. When we unpacked our little blue baby from the package, it was love at first sight. But will its performance match up to its looks?

First bite

The Happy series from Acer isn't meant to be a powerhorse. Lightweight, trendy and multi-functional – it's meant to be flaunted. Sony's VAIO series made a statement with its bold colours, and more recently, HP introduced snap-on laptop lids in a variety of colours. The colour scheme Acer has chosen will appeal more to the ladies, and at just 1.25 kg, it's light enough to be slipped into a large tote and function as an ultraportable computer.

Our unit had a glossy blue lid with silver lettering. Everything else on the netbook is white, except for a matching thick, blue strip that runs below the length of the keypad - which holds the touchpad and hand rest.

Acer has opted for an island style keyboard, which is comfortable for long hours of typing and gives good tactile feedback. The screen is a 10.1-inch TFT Active Matrix LCD. The small touchpad supports multi-touch such as pinch to zoom, but we found scrolling difficult because of its size. The left and right click buttons are encased in a single, narrow, plastic strip which made them difficult to use.

The netbook offers the regular line-up of ports – 3 USB ports, a VGA display port, Kensington lock slot, Ethernet port and multi-functional SD card reader. It also comes with a headphone and microphone slot and a 1.3-meg webcam.

The netbook comes packaged with a foam sleeve, which we advise using because the lid tends to get scratched easily.

Starting up

The netbook is pre-loaded with Windows 7 Starter, which is the most basic of Windows 7 editions. While you get access to most features of the OS, simple things like changing the desktop background with your own picture isn't possible. The netbook is powered by an Intel Atom 450 processor, with a speed of 1.66 GHz – which other Aspire One and ASUS Eee PC netbooks also feature. It features 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, and offers 320GB of internal storage – which is plenty for all your media usage.

An interesting feature of the netbook is that it comes with Android boot-up as well. This is convenient if you want to quick-start your computer for basic functions like browsing – but not for playing media as the Android edition only has 4GB of storage. Also Android doesn't support .avi files, and you don't have access to the Market. While we like the idea of dual boot-up options, using a mobile phone OS on a netbook doesn't really seem to work. We got stuck with navigating, because there's no Android ‘Back' button and it took us a while to figure out that we had to press the Esc key for that. An Android OS would have worked best for a netbook with a touch screen, we feel. When the netbook boots to Android, it gives you a 10 second gap, during which time if you don't move the cursor or click on any key, it boots to Windows. You can also switch from Android to Windows at any time using the arrow located at the top left, but not vice-versa.

Media

The standard definition 1024x768 screen isn't ideal for watching movies, but we played ‘The Butterfly Effect' and ‘Transformers' to test the screen quality. There was no stagger between frames, neither was their any visible blurring. The same can't be said for the speakers, the output of which was barely audible. We'd advise using a pair of headphones if you plan to watch a film or listen to music.

The netbook also comes pre-loaded with the Acer GameZone Console, which features demo games like ‘Cake Mania', ‘Galapago' and ‘Big Kahuna Reef' too. There are also various others you can choose to download from the GameZone. These games don't take up much graphics usage. Considering the fact that it only comes with an Intel GMA GPU, we didn't bother to venture trying out more graphics-heavy games on it.

The netbook comes with Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth, for easy file-sharing.

Performance

While Acer has gone all out on looks, this isn't really a netbook that's loaded with all the goodies. The single-core Intel Atom N450 processor is increasingly being used for tablets, with most netbooks now shifting to the more powerful dual-core N550. The limitation of this is seen in the netbook's performance. Startup took about 1 minute 30 seconds. And while simple tasks like web-browsing with multiple tabs worked fine, when it came to commands like right-click, the netbook took a few seconds to bring up the menu. It was also slowed down when it came to operations as simple as My Computer or Control Panel.

When we had multiple programs open, like Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and GameZone, the lag was even more intensified.

Battery life is estimated at 8 hours, and we got close to 6, with a couple of hours of videos, games and browsing.

Our Verdict

The Acer Aspire One Happy netbook won us over with its chic looks, but failed to impress us when it came to performance. However, it's unfair to expect any better for the price you pay. This is a netbook that would appeal to users who want it largely for internet usage and storing media.

Love: Colourful exterior, comfortable keyboard

Hate: Ships with Windows 7 Starter, slow processor

Rs 17,999

Published on March 16, 2011
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