Opening the One’s lid reveals a shiny black surround framing the 8.9in screen. It’s quite attractive, especially as there are no speakers to ruin the clean lines as these are instead integrated into the bottom of the netbook’s chassis, with the detrimental effect on audio quality you’ll probably already have guessed. The keyboard is matte black, which doesn’t give it the most cohesive of looks when combined with the reflective black bezel and shiny blue surface that makes up the rest of the One’s upper chassis, including the touchpad – not that we’re complaining about the keyboard being matte.
Speaking of cohesion, when you start paying attention to little details there’s even less of it to be found: we have a silver power button with an embedded green LED, and metallic orange trims on the hinge ends. While these certainly add to the One’s individuality, I’m not so sure they’re an inspired design decision. Still, with the sides and base matte black to match the keyboard, overall the One is moderately attractive.
Moving onto connectivity, the One is pretty average, with one unique touch and some nice future potential. There are no connections at the unit’s front or back. On the right side, there is a memory card reader that will handle SDHC, MMC, MS/PRO and xD. This is joined by two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and like on most netbooks you’ll also find a Kensington lock point.
On the other side is the power jack, VGA out, LAN and a further USB port. We then come to a unique feature that elevates the Aspire One a little beyond mediocrity and the competition: an extra SD(HC) card slot. Now obviously there’s a bit more to this than just the ability to put two memory cards in at once since the extra slot acts as storage expansion, meaning you can easily and cheaply expand the native 8GB already present. The One will incorporate any SD memory card into its file system through an application it calls Smart System Management, showing the joint storage devices as a single unified space. This worked flawlessly when I tried it with a 16GB SDHC card, effectively tripling the One’s capacity in the blink of an eye.
As I said, this is a really clever solution. Yes, it’s possible to do this with other netbooks, but it won’t be even half as elegant. For one thing, they won’t incorporate the extra memory into local storage, and for another, you won’t actually be able to insert another memory card (if, for example, you want to get the pictures off your camera) without ‘removing’ this extra space. This way Acer has given consumers a modular way of increasing their storage that will only get cheaper and more spacious as time goes on, without needing to mess about with the machine’s innards. One minor gripe is that since you will potentially be loading applications onto this second SD card, it would have been good to see some kind of locking flap in place, to ensure that you didn’t eject the card by mistake at an inopportune moment.
Unlike most of its competitors the One does not come with Bluetooth installed, and Wi-Fi doesn’t extend to Draft-N. However, before you make too many sounds of barely-suppressed disgust, it’s worth mentioning that Acer has said future updates will include integrated WiMAX and 3G/HSDPA options. Interestingly, our model had an upgrade slot that could easily accommodate an HSDPA module and I found a SIM slot hidden behind the battery, so this is definitely a possibility.