Netbooks are breeding at an alarming rate. Of course that's mostly a good thing, in that it drives down prices and gives more choice to the consumer. The only downside is that the tighter margins on netbooks become, the fewer players are likely to get into the game, making it a venture exclusive to the larger or more confident/daring companies.
Of course Acer, as the third largest PC manufacturer in the world, doesn't exactly have much to worry about. It's fair to say that if a company this size chooses to enter a market, it will have enough muscle to make a go of it. Even the name suggests that Acer is keen to make a splash in the netbook arena, with the Aspire One intimating that this is the netbook to buy.
Despite the singular moniker, the Aspire One is available in a few configurations. What we have before us today is the most basic and thus also the cheapest configuration, featuring an Intel Atom 1.6GHz, 8GB SSD flash drive and only 512MB of RAM. While this is not exactly enough to run Windows XP properly, it's certainly adequate for the included custom distribution of Linux that this netbook runs. Windows XP versions will also be available, with up to 1GB of RAM, a 120GB HDD, and a six-cell battery, rather than the three-cell our model came with. Admittedly, the hard drive and larger battery do affect the One's size and weight, upping its dimensions from 249 x 170 x 29mm (WxDxH) to 249 x 195 x 36mm and increasing the weight from just under a kilo to 1.26kg, but that's unavoidable.
Like most netbooks these days, the Aspire One comes in a variety of colours, but in this case there are some unusual choices. Admittedly, 'SeaShell' White is nothing out of the ordinary, and 'Coral Pink' is pretty much a given, but I wouldn't have bet on the remaining two being Sapphire Blue and Golden Brown - for one thing, what happened to black? You know, the colour of expensive cameras, consoles, televisions and other cool, high-end technology gear?
Having resigned myself to blue as the next best choice, let's see if the Aspire One holds its own aesthetically. The top of the lid looks a bit like it has been enamelled, though it is as susceptible to fingerprints and scratches as any other shiny coating. For durability I really prefer the matte, rugged finish on my old Eee PC 701, and the One will never match the lovely brushed metal chassis of the HP 2133 Mini Note, but marks are no more or less visible than on many competing glossy netbooks (like Asus' latest effort, the Asus Eee PC 1000).