Part II: Acer Netbook First Impressions

acer1In my previous posting, I noted that I was examining an Acer Aspire One 751h Netbook computer for my own personal use. After buying the Acer Netbook from Costco for $290 US, I brought it home and began the process of cleaning it up and conducting my 3-day evaluation process. But before I get into that discussion, let me first give you my initial impressions of the Acer 751h Netbook.

The best feature of this Netbook is the high resolution LED-backlit LCD screen. It’s 11.6 inches in size (measured diagonally) and has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The display is crystal clear, the sharpest I’ve ever seen on a laptop. I’ve got no complains regarding the screen.

With the 768 pixel vertical resolution, you can view much more on a displayed web page as you would with a 600 pixel vertical resolution. This means less vertical scrolling which is a very good thing.

The keyboard is also very comfortable to type on (and being a touch typist, that is important to me). It’s nearly-full size (about 90%) and the keys are very large compared to the smaller Netbooks. Also, the layout of the important keys are all in the right place. The only bad thing is that the directional arrow keys (up,down,left,right) and the Home/End/Page Up/Page Down keys are crammed into four small keys at the lower right corner of the keyboard. Certainly  not a deal breaker, by no means. I have no complaints with regard to typing on this keyboard.

The Netbook is very, very quiet. It does apparently have a CPU fan, but it’s whisper quiet (at least, so far!). The bottom of the unit feels slightly warm, but barely noticeable. The palmrest areas are cool, which is important if you do a lot of typing (a former laptop that I owned had the hard drive located under the left palmrest area and it got so hot that it was uncomfortable to use).

Windows XP Home along with the 1 GB of RAM memory seems to work just fine on this system. I didn’t see any slowness that was reported in several forum postings. That makes me wonder about the authenticity of anything issues reported in the various user forums. I do have to note that so far I’ve only been running the Firefox browser, and I don’t have several different applications running in the background.

I noticed that in some cases, when I drag an application window around on the screen the area behind the window takes a few seconds to redraw and refresh.  For example, I have the Firefox web browser up and running, and I then open Notepad and drag the Notepad window around on the screen. When I do so, the Firefox image in the background takes a few seconds to update. Obviously, this is a function of the Acer’s graphics driver and video memory (which happens to be 8 MB). It doesn’t really bother me, but I can see some hypersensitive users complaining about it.

The Acer Netbook is also very portable. If you’ve never picked up a Netbook computer before, you’ll be surprised at how lightweight it is. At 2.75 lbs (with the 3-cell battery) this Acer definitely feels like you’re carrying around a “book”. Another big plus for getting a Netbook device if you travel a lot.

The built-in WiFi wireless adapter worked very well at connecting with my Belkin N+ Wireless Router in my house. The WiFi-g adapter connected at 54 Mbps max speed and had an “excellent” signal strength as reported by WinXP. I had one minor issue with the connection dropping which I fixed with a setting change (I’ll discuss that in the next posting).

The Acer also has a Webcam camera which I haven’t looked at yet. I normally don’t use webcams, nevertheless I’ll take a look at the webcam on the Acer just to thoroughly check it out.

And finally, the Acer Netbook comes loaded with a lot of junkware, such as the McAfee antivirus software, Microsoft Office Student (trial), Carbonite Lite online backup (trial), Google Desktop, and lots of various games.

So in summary, the Acer 751h Netbook seems to be a very capable, portable machine. The keyboard is nearly full-size and very usable for a touch typist. The high-resolution screen is superb, although the video memory is a bit low and results in some delayed background graphics refreshing. The 1 GB RAM memory and slower CPU didn’t seem to impact the performance of this Netbook by my standards. As such, I’m still enthusiastic about testing this Netbook for my normal daily use. So in my next posting, I’ll discuss what I did to setup the Acer for my weekend testing. Stay tuned!

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