Summary

Our Score

7/10

Review Price £324.99

Despite being 'brand new', Intel's Pine Trail Atom platform doesn't offer too much improvement over its predecessor in terms of functionality. As such, while technically new, we're still looking at netbooks from every manufacturer that are more or less clones of each other. This is particularly true of the Acer Aspire One 532h, as it's literally engineered from the same DNA as the Packard Bell Dot S2 we reviewed recently. Of course this makes sense as PB is now a subsidiary of Acer, so let's see how the two netbooks differ from each other.

Given Acer's success in this market, with the original Acer Aspire One being one of the best-selling models of the first generation, the 532h has quite a bit to live up to and in terms of looks it matches up. Our model, sporting a glossy dark-red lid with subtle gold flecks, looks rather fetching, though it does pick up fingerprints easily. As well as Ruby Red, the One should be available with Sapphire Blue and Pearl Silver options.

Opening the machine up we're greeted with a mostly glossy black interior, with a few red chrome highlights to provide consistency with the lid. Thanks to a few subtle changes it's a far more attractive affair than the Dot S2. First off we prefer the colour scheme, which is more complementary. That bulging hinge has also been altered, and with the hinge edges now cast in the same shape it's less obtrusive.

Unfortunately, though it looks better than the Dot S2 it's not actually as pleasant to use. Acer's use of a glossy plastic palm rest means you constantly need to wipe away grease marks if you want to keep the machine looking good. We suppose it's to match the screen's glossy bezel, but it would have been better if Acer had used a more durable material here.

Our next bone of contention is the multi-touch touchpad. It's the same shape and size as the excellent example found on the Packard Bell netbook, and it's just as responsive, but here its dotted texturing is just a little too rough for comfort - almost like rubbing your finger along low-grade sandpaper.

Thankfully the matte keyboard remains identical, if now black rather than white. This means you get large, comfortable keys that offer excellent feedback despite slightly shallow travel, and a top-notch layout. Quite simply, it's one of the best netbook keyboards around. While we're on positives, the Acer Aspire One 532h comes with the same ingenious power plug design as used on the Dot S2, so you shouldn't have trouble plugging it in anywhere.

Connectivity is also identical to its cousin and indeed to most other netbooks, whether from this generation or the last one. That means you get a disappointing selection of three USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, an Ethernet port, memory card reader and analogue VGA video output.

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