I’ve been thinking of getting a netbook since the original ASUS EEE PC, the granddaddy of netbooks, reared its tiny 7″ screen into this world and some Intel marketing serf came up with the term “netbook”, which by the way makes zero sense when you stop to think about it.
I’m glad I waited a full year for the ensuing orgy of product announcements to peak before making my choice, because Aspire One is the best purchase I’ve ever made. It also has a superior product name compared to its major competitors. (Dell E? EEE PC? WTF?)
I have the Windows XP version with a 160 GB HDD and a 6-cell battery. I bought it for 600 SGD (400 USD), which is somewhat cheaper than its normal retail price. This is because SingNet recently bundled them with its broadband internet plans and a lot of people are unloading them online.
- Battery – Long battery life; 6-cell battery lasts 6-7 hours with wifi use.
- Portable – Small and compact; fits in my normal sling bag.
- Functionality – Has built-in multicard reader, webcam, and all the basic ports.
- Usability – Runs Photoshop and older games surprisingly well.
- Screen – Very bright; I prefer reflective screens to matte screens.
- Touchpad – Horrible touchpad; not unusable but would prefer not to.
- Keyboard – Not the best keyboard ever but badness is on par with most netbooks.
- Heat – Bottom left where the HDD is gets pretty hot after extended use; bearable considering small storage space of SSD.
- Weight – Not as light as it looks; 1.26kg with the 6-cell battery; not a huge issue due to tiny size and long battery life.
- Drive – No DVD drive makes installing Ubuntu a slight pain; fine for everything else with Daemon Tool and network sharing.
I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I think it’s really lived up to my expectations (for once). The 8.9″ 1024×600 screen is quite decent, surprisingly. The 1.6ghz Intel Atom processor runs everything I need in a laptop, including Office 2007 and Photoshop, and it plays videos just fine. The portability is the cake and eating it is great.
I installed Intrepid Ibex on it in dual-boot configuration using a USB flash drive, and it’s pretty awesome. It does take a lot of tweaking to work properly (as usual) and the sound support leaves much to be desired but it’s not a deal breaker.
I was quite pleasantly surprised to learn that a patched madwifi driver adds injection support to the AR5007EG wireless module used by Aspire One. This discovery happened to coincide with the release of the new WPA exploit for Aircrack, so I ended up spending the whole day playing around with the latest built of
aircrack-ng for Linux. (No illegal acts took place.)
Sadly, when it comes to aircracking, the patched AR5007 seems to perform much worse than the Netgear WG511T PC Card — which also uses an Atheros chipset — I bought on Ebay for my old Samsung laptop. This means that if I ever had to crack a WEP passkey to save my life someday, my chances of survival are now significantly lower.
Also, if I were to be attacked by a group of ninja assassins, the lightweight Aspire One would make a much lousier kinetic weapon than the 2.4kg 15.4″ Samsung.
Aspire One is good for most things that you need from a normal laptop. The low price and the long battery life of the 6-cell model are pretty sweet too. It is however definitely not a desktop replacement and should not be used as one. But unless you absolutely need to edit videos or play games on the go, the Aspire One is definitely a laptop replacement.
P.S. TKIP keys for WPA are not crackable yet, but the new exploit does make the possibility one step closer to becoming reality. Switch your routers to WPA2 today! (And use Tomato if your model supports it. It’s awesome.)