Aesthetically, then, the D150 isn’t quite the triumph Acer surely meant it to be and the design issues aren’t just superficial, either. You would think, given the move to a larger chassis, that Acer would do what everyone else has done and improve the keyboard, but it has taken the galling decision to not do this. Instead you’re left with the exact same keyboard as found on the original 8.9in Aspire One.
We can only surmise this is done for cost reasons, since it’s easier/cheaper for Acer to drop the same keyboard into a different chassis than make a whole new one. However, as already intimated, this rather defeats the object of making a larger netbook. As it is, while the keyboard was pretty good for an 8.9in netbook it’s just not good enough for 10in one. Keys, though useable, are noticeably smaller than those found on the Samsung NC10 or Eee PC 1000HE, making them less comfortable when typing for long periods. Key travel and feedback are also noticeably lacking, so while the typing experience is still passable, it’s no better than before.
Acer has also contrived to mess-up the touchpad. Gone, thankfully, are the buttons either side of the touchpad, but they’ve been replaced by a rocker style button that’s irritatingly stiff and unresponsive. We also found the touchpad itself a little cramped, especially since the invisible scroll zone restricts the usable area somewhat.
Fundamentally, the main problem for the D150 is that there are very few reasons to buy this machine over any other 10in netbook. Samsung’s NC10 still sits comfortably at the top of the pile; marrying excellent design, ergonomics and above average battery life with a reasonable price. Asus’ Eee PC 1000HE, while beginning to look a little long in the tooth, also remains an excellent option thanks to its improved keyboard and superlative battery life.
Likewise, while the MSI Wind struggles to match the Samsung and Asus in some respects, it arguably offers among the best keyboards of any netbook and likely identical battery life to D150. Worse still, since the keyboard is no different, why would one buy the D150 when you can get the original Aspire One and buy a six-cell battery for less outlay? Whichever way you look at it the Aspire One D150 doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
Acer’s decision to move into the 10in netbook sector makes perfect sense, but its execution doesn’t. Despite the larger chassis it has chosen not to improve the keyboard and though the price and spec are in line with expectations, the D150’s design and ergonomics don’t compare well to the competition. In a market where very little separates one product from another, these are significant failings.
Score in detail
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