With more than a passing nod to the Asus Eee PC, and in particular the new Asus Eee PC 901, with the Acer Aspire One Acer has taken on the concept of affordable mini-laptop – and improved upon it.

Comparisons between the Acer Aspire One and Asus Eee PC are impossible not to make, since they have so much in common.

The Acer Aspire One's display is the same size and resolution, a 9in 1024x600 widescreen, and while it's not the sharpest or brightest on the block it does have perceptibly better colour and contrast than the flatter-looking Asus Eee PC's. This is helped to some degree by the user interface. Again running Linux, the Aspire One uses Linpus Lite OS, a richer experience with jumbo icons that gently expand as you mouse over them.

Slightly bigger than the Asus Eee PC, Acer has used the additional 22mm of case width to make marginally larger keys, a welcome expansion for most typists. Less convenient is the trackpad button arrangement.

We find left-click on the left edge of the pad, and right-click on the far right. Seems logical enough, but this layout – seen elsewhere in models such as HP's Mini-Note – demands much finger twisting to get basic mousing and clicking done. Just as well, then, that the Acer Aspire One's trackpad itself is less twitchy than some, allowing quite precise tracking. No attempt at multitouch here, but the right side of the pad is setup for vertical scrolling.

Inside the Aspire One is the same Intel Atom processor found in the AsAsus Eee PC 901, with 512MB of RAM and 8GB solid-state storage. Yet the Aspire feels that bit quicker overall, perhaps aided by the more responsive OS and smoother trackpad.

A multi-format card reader is not unusual but Aspire includes one on each side of the Acer Aspire One, along with Smart File Manager software. The latter allows any SD card used in the second slot to merge with the main storage, rather than appear as just another drive.

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With more than a passing nod to the Asus Eee PC, and in particular the new Asus Eee PC 901, with the Acer Aspire One Acer has taken on the concept of affordable mini-laptop – and improved upon it.

The Acer Aspire One runs a little warm, and a small internal fan vents through the case bottom, thankfully very quietly. Unlike other Atomic-powered laptops, there's no provision to step-up the processor, but battery-saving settings are found in the KPowersave interface.

While this initial sample runs Linux with SSD storage, a follow-up Acer Aspire One will feature Windows XP and a 80GB hard disk - but expect battery life to tumble from the 3 hours 12 mins we acheived with this model. Also on the cards is a 3G or WiMax module. For the UK, expect to see the former in HSDPA form before long.

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See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

Acer Aspire One: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom
  • Linpus Linux OS
  • 512MB DDR2 RAM
  • 8.9in (1024x600) display
  • 8GB NAND solid-state storage
  • 1 x SD Card reader
  • 1 x multi-format card reader
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • 10/100Mbps ethernet
  • 3 x USB
  • 249x170x29mm
  • 1kg
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom
  • Linpus Linux OS
  • 512MB DDR2 RAM
  • 8.9in (1024x600) display
  • 8GB NAND solid-state storage
  • 1 x SD Card reader
  • 1 x multi-format card reader
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • 10/100Mbps ethernet
  • 3 x USB
  • 249x170x29mm
  • 1kg

OUR VERDICT

A few glitches aside such as near-useless track buttons, and no user adjustable screen brightness, the Acer Aspire One is the current pick of the breed. Figure in the curvier styling and shiny colours, and Acer moves to the top of the list, especially at the attractive price of £220.

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