Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First impressions of the Acer Aspire One "netbook"

I've really enjoyed using our new Acer Aspire One (AA1). Despite it's smaller size, the keyboard is not bad for my rather large hands. I only seem to have problems when I try to use the backspace key.

The size is truly amazing! The computer is not much bigger than its manual! When slipped into the black vinyl sleeve it looks and feels like a small leather-bound book.

Our AA1 has Linux, and an 8 GB flash based hard drive that is expandable with up to an 8 GB SD card. There's a VGA port, a couple of USB slots, network port, a 5 in 1 card reader, and headphone and microphone jacks. It has a built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam and microphone, and a wireless card.

I've had no problems getting on to any wireless networks so far, which I can't say for a couple of Macbooks I've tried on my home wireless network. The Firefox browser has worked well, and I haven't yet found any websites that wouldn't load. The Acrobat Reader has also worked, and although I haven't used it yet, Open Office is preloaded.

I've downloaded and used Skype without issue, and I've even managed to figure out how to get the Skype icon on the desktop. It wasn't easy, but with the right information from a couple of websites, I was able to "hack" my way in. It's also possible to search for and install other Linux apps like Tux paint, Tux type, and many others. I think I have about 3 GB left on my hard drive so I will need to think about buying an expansion SD card if I want to install many more programs.

The list price for the Linux version is $329. Education resellers prices may be lower (ours was $317 from CDW-G). There is also a Windows XP version available with a conventional hard drive that lists for $379.

I'm really excited by the potential for using these netbooks in a 1:1 initiative. I showed ours to a principal today, and she is looking into funding a classroom set with a grant.

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