As one might expect with the move up to the larger form factor, Acer has also upgraded the battery. Our sample version came with a six-cell, 5,600mAh version producing in excess of five hours, but don’t get too excited; the final retail version will ship with just a 4,400mAh battery instead. Going by previous experience (the MSI Wind U100-291UK sports an identical capacity battery) you’ll still get over four hours of use with wireless turned off, or around three and a half hours of web browsing, so it’s better than the puny three-cell or four-cell units found in some netbooks. It’s a far cry, though, from the Samsung NC10 or the Asus Eee PC 1000HE, which Asus now tells us will retail for around £329, not the £359 originally quoted in our review.
This would put the 1000HE in the same price bracket as the D150, though we won’t hold our breath until we actually see one on sale. After all, it’s just as likely that the D150 will come down in price as well or that retailers will simply ignore Asus’ “suggestions”.
It’s worth noting, too, that there’s a little more to the D150 package than just the machine itself, since it comes bundled with a slipcase. It’s a really good one, too. Replete in black neoprene, it is thick and fits very snugly around the chassis, providing excellent protection. It’s far preferable to the token effort supplied with the Samsung NC10 and even bests the otherwise excellent efforts provided by Asus.
Unfortunately, for Acer at least, people aren’t generally in the habit of spending nearly £330 on a nice slipcase, because despite the decent bundle and above average screen, the D150 as a whole is exceedingly underwhelming. Early impressions of the machine are decent enough. On the outside our white version looks quite tidy and we even like the slightly eccentric lime green hinge endings. It’s not until you open the machine up that things start to go wrong.
To begin with, there’s a bizarre lack of cohesion about this design. Surrounding the screen is the obligatory glossy-black plastic, below which is a section of cheap looking matte-black plastic bookended by silver segments. Then, on the main body of the machine, is a slightly odd section of black plastic that has the texture and appearance of brushed metal, but which is, on much closer inspection definitely plastic. These contrasting finishes throughout the machine are simply jarring and unattractive, while we’re even less enamoured with how the six rubber coasters around the screen leave ugly marks on the base after lifting the lid.
Our special ire, however, is reserved for the ugly lime-green accenting around the power button. While this effect just about works on the hinge endings, thanks largely to far superior execution, here it’s simply achieved through the use of some thoroughly cheap and nasty plastic. Quite why a simple button wouldn’t have sufficed is beyond us and it simply compounds the feeling that, somewhere along the line, something has gone badly wrong in the design department.