Due to the machine's protruding battery, the keyboard is gently sloped – though not to the almost uncomfortable degree of the MSI Wind U160. Our only real complaint would be that the base of your palm ends up resting uncomfortably on the netbook's lower front edge. This is a pity, as the matt black keyboard is frankly superb. Layout and key-spacing are excellent, the Enter and Right-shift keys are large, and shortcuts are logically placed. The best aspect is key feedback, which is positive and crisp with no flex to mar the experience.
Likewise the multi-touch touchpad is nice to use, though it's sometimes hard to feel where it ends and the palm rest begins due to its flush design. Nonetheless, it's very sensitive and its surface is pleasant to use. We're not as enthused by the pad's buttons, however: built into an attractive single rocker switch, the left button is stiff and occasionally doesn't click, while the right one's active zone is too far away, forcing your thumb to stretch further than it should need to.
Inevitably, the 533's 10.1in, glossy screen sports the same 1,024 x 600 resolution as most other netbooks, but it's actually quite decent. Colours are convincing and black levels relatively deep. Sharpness is also excellent, aiding readability, and the backlight is consistent. Viewing angles are mediocre at best though, so be careful how you angle the display.
As we've been getting used to halfway decent speakers on laptops and netbooks recently, the 533's are a little disappointing. Though they don't distort badly, their maximum volume is unimpressive and clarity is somewhat lacking in the high end.
The 533's six-cell, 4,400mAh battery managed just over five and a half hours in our video playback test, where wireless radios are turned off and screen brightness is set to 50 percent. This is okay but not outstanding, though the screen was still more than bright enough so you could easily dim it further to get longer life. We wonder to what extent the more powerful CPU is responsible for the slightly reduced performance here.
Value is a tough call. There's no denying that our review model's £300 price (not to be confused with the £280 533-13Dk sporting the more common 1.66GHz Atom) is cheap when compared to current rivals that frequently sport lower specifications. However, we're not convinced the extra performance or addition of Bluetooth 3.0 elevate it above netbooks around the £280 bracket, and Acer's own D260 (review coming next week) can be had for just £230.
Acer's Aspire One 533 sets itself apart from other current-generation netbooks with a faster Atom CPU and Bluetooth 3.0, and surprisingly doesn't charge extra for these privileges. However, these are still only incremental improvements rather than must-buy features, and there are cheaper alternatives.