The so-called “Netbook” category continues to get quite a bit of attention. Acer has introduced several new models in the Aspire One line and is intent on winning in this category (aiming for 50% of the market in 2009).
Some pundits have pointed out that even though this category is growing dramatically, you may not see that many of them at the local coffee shop. I have to admit that I have not noticed very many of them in the wild. (The installed base is huge, so it takes quite a few units to move the needle.) Acer has apparently taken the worldwide lead in consumer notebooks (in terms of units) in Q3 of 2008, edging out HP with 5.04M units (vs. HP’s 4.85M units.) With netbook prices often in the range of $300 to 500, this sure sounds like price erosion to me in the notebook category.
In a previous post, I wrote about the Acer Aspire One Netbook that my wife is using. She does let me use it once in while, so I have actually gotten some stick time on it. My assessment remains largely the same: this is a great little PC for its intended purpose (web usage, email and light text editing). Sometimes it is the little things that can make a big difference: I find myself reaching for the Acer because it boots from a deadstart in under 24 seconds. It makes my WindowsXP and Vista machines seem like slow, plodding dinosaurs. My car starts in a few seconds, so why can’t my PC be instant on?
After about 6 weeks of having the computer, I still give it high marks. The keyboard is slightly cramped but quite usable. I wouldn’t want to type on anything smaller and I do appreciate it when I switch back to a full size keyboard. The touchpad sucks but that doesn’t surprise — I think all touchpads suck, so I am not an unbiased observer. I use a small notebook style mouse whenever possible. The right/left “mouse” keys for the touchpad are placed in a non-standard position, which causes some user complaints. I finally figured out that FN – F7 turns the dang thing off, so I don’t bump it while I am typing.
The Linux OS has turned out to be sturdy and reliable but difficult to adapt. The GUI that layered on top of Linux does a good job as far as it goes. After that, I find myself resorting to the Linux command line to get things done. This is acceptable for me but puts futzing around with the system out of reach for many users. If you don’t speak Linux, then your ability to adapt this machine is limited. But for its intended use, you shouldn’t need to mess with it. So there you go….works well for the intended use but be careful beyond that.
And did I mention it BOOTS FAST?
– Bob K0NR
Update (28 Nov 2008): Here are a few links for user information, hacks, modifications, etc.