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Acer Aspire: the One to beat

When Asus unveiled the Eee PC 901, a version of the Eee PC running on Intel’s new Atom processor, we thought this would be 2008’s product to beat.

Just look at the success of the firm’s original Eee PC 701 – a portable that looked like a ‘real’ laptop, albeit one that had been zapped by the incredible shrinking raygun, and spearheaded the movement toward small, inexpensive laptops.

But we hadn’t counted on the strength of the competition. Rival firms, it seems, were waiting only for the Intel Atom chip to become available before improving on the idea. Not to mention shaving almost a third off the current Eee PC 901’s price – that, at least, is what one Taiwanese competitor has done.

Acer's Aspire One, listed at £220, beats the Eee PC 901 in the key areas of price, ease of use and, arguably, style. It’s not without its problems but, so long as Acer can keep up with consumer demand, the One will pull off the hot-cake impersonation this summer.

Worldwide waiting

Getting around the web means using a web browser, and not just any browser will do. We need one that’s stable and easy to use, will render pages accurately, works with secure sites for safe transactions, loads pages as quick as our broadband connections allow and won’t allow all manner of malware into our PCs. While no browser is entirely bombproof, Darwinian evolution has left us with a few fit survivors we can count on. Most prominent of these is Firefox.

Back in the neolithic age of the internet – the early 90s – Netscape was the one to watch. When Netscape faded away under pressure from Microsoft, it turned its code over to the open-source community, taking the name Mozilla (‘Mosaic killer’).

With Mozilla Firefox 3.0 now out of the door, users of every platform will get a consistent online experience, and one that’s reliable enough to simply let them get on with their surfing.

So we’ve almost come full circle. With the Mozilla Foundation getting a commercial edge with its Mozilla Corporation division, Firefox is getting the push it needs to keep in the public eye.

But Firefox isn’t the end of the story. Why not try Safari, Opera 9.5 or one of Mozilla’s derivatives such as SeaMonkey, Flock and Camino? The wait for dependable browsers may be over.

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