We've been teased with all sorts of details regarding new Eee PC-killers and today Acer announced its Aspire One NetBook. And, having just got back from the launch event, we can now furnish you with a few more details.
Measuring 25cm across and just 2.9cm thick and featuring an 8.9in 1,024 x 600 screen, it'll weigh just 995 grams in its entry-level configuration. This gives it a similar form factor to the Eee PC, while making it smaller than the MSI Wind and the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC.
The full specs are as follows:
* CPU: Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 Cache).
* Memory: 512MB DDR2 533MHz on-board (Upgradable to 1GB or 1.5GB using 512MB or 1GB soDIMM).
* Display: 8.9in WSVGA (1,024 x 600), LED Backlit, 180 cd/m2.
* Storage: 8GB NAND Flash Module (Linux Versions) & 80GB 2.5in HDD (Windows XP Versions), Memory Card Reader (SD, MMC, RS-MMC, MS, MS PRO, xD).
* Audio: Integrated Intel HD Audio, Integrated Microphone & Speakers
* Communication: 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, 10/100 Fast Ethernet, Integrated 3.6MB 3G/HSDPA (Optional), WiMAX (Optional), 0.3 Megapixel WebCam.
* Dimensions: 249 x 170 x 29mm (WxDxH) for NAND Flash and 3-cell battery version; 249 x 195 x 36mm for HDD version with 6-cell battery.
* Weight: 995g for NAND Flash, 3-cell battery versions; 1.26kg for HDD/6-cell versions.
* Battery: 2200mAh 3-cell battery (3 hours life); 2600mAh 6-cell (7 hours life) - figures derived from NAND Flash editions.
* Warranty: 1 Year Carry-in, upgradeable to 2 Years.
Though they'll be a number of as yet unannounced SKUs, the entry level model will retail at £199 inc. VAT. This will net you a 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 512MB DDR2 RAM, 8GBs of NAND Flash storage and Wi-Fi - all of which will run on a rather smart looking custom Linux interface. This system will come with a 2200mAh 3-cell battery as standard, weigh just 996 grams and will be available to buy on July 10th.
Acer is also planning to release versions using Windows XP, which will ship with regular mechanical 80GB hard drives and 6-cell batteries as standard. Other options include HSDPA and WiMAX, though we'd expect HSDPA to be the option of choice within the UK and most of Europe.
Having had a brief moment to play around with the Aspire One, it's clear that the Eee PC has another very worthy contender on its hands. Unlike the MSI Wind and HP Mini-Note, though, Acer seems to be going after Asus' effort on price. At just £199 for the entry-level model it's very competitively priced and though 8GB of NAND Flash and 512MB RAM may not sound like an awful lot, it should be more than enough to run the custom Linux OS it'll run.
Speaking of which, much like the Eee the Aspire One has a nice simplified interface that's split into ‘Connect', ‘Work', ‘Fun' and ‘Files' boxes. Internet browsing is supplied by Firefox and word processing from the ever popular Open Office. You'll also find all sorts of other programs, including a multi-format instant messenger and fully functional email client.
From our brief time with the machine the keyboard felt quite good. Unlike the Eee the keys aren't tiny and difficult to use and had a nice crisp response to them. Likewise, the layout is pretty good and though it lacks a large size Return key, it's not something that's worth getting too worried about. It's worth noting, though, that Acer has gone the HP route by placing the touch pad buttons either side of it, rather than below. It's not ideal and the touch pad is quite small, but without spending more time with the machine it's hard to know how much of a problem this might be.
We should be getting hold of a sample soon, so we'll be able to answer that question and others in the near future.