The Acer Aspire One 722-C58KK features an AMD C-60 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) which comes as a welcome change considering that most netbooks feature Intel's Atomprocessor. Let's see whether this particular configuration choice yields an improvement in performance over the Intel Atom based netbook's that we have seen.
The Acer Aspire One 722 model comes in an all black - this is the only colour option that is currently available- design with the back-lid (which has an appealing pearl black finish), bezel and interestingly even the single mouse button having a glossy finish, with the rest of the netbook retaining a non-glossy finish. As is to be expected, the glossy areas do attract a lot of smudges and finger prints. The standout design feature would be the distinct ripple-like design around the Aspire One logo located on the back-lid - the ripple effect originates from the letter "O" in the "One" logo and spreads outward. Otherwise the netbook pretty much sticks to the basics, with a basic layout of a keyboard, touchpad and power button and no 'fancy' quick access buttons.
The power button is located at the top left corner right under the left hinge. The central section at the rear of the chassis, the area in between the two hinges, is elevated adding to the Aspire One's rather distinct appearance.
Acer has plans to release later iterations of this same model featuring a 500GB hard disk and Windows Home Basic 7 OS some time around October - in addition to the already available black version, these upcoming versions will be available in blue and red as well.
Having a plastic finish and measuring around 1-inch in thickness, the Aspire One 722's chassis is smooth-edged around the edges and corners. The Aspire One 722 does weigh in at 1.46kg, which is mostly in the expected weight range for netbook's with 11.6-inch screens. Other than the keyboard area being rather springy, the overall build quality of the netbook is ok. There is a 1.3MP webcam located at the top central section of the screen bezel. The speakers on the netbook are located towards the left and right side at the front base.
The AO 722 comes with a adapter that resembles more a mobile charger than the regular adapters that we see with netbooks' in general - the bricklike feature is absent in this Acer netbook.
The Acer netbook's 11.6-inch glossy screen has a native resolution of 1366x768 - as it to be expected the reflective nature of the screen can be an irritant at times. The screen is sufficiently bright, and the viewing angles are decent - you will notice the colour darken from the vertical (top and bottom) and horizontal (left and right) viewing angles. The screen can be tilted to almost 150-160 degrees backwards, and this should help you, to some extent, in choosing the ideal viewing position relative to the screen. Moreover, with the handy HDMI port you can also connect to an external display source as and when required.?????Keyboard Usability
The first aspect you notice when lifting the 722's back-lid is the comparatively larger size of the majority of the 84-individual keys on the Acer's FineTip keyboard - the flat keys are rather elevated giving the impression that they're 'floating'. However while this would have been a very good aspect for netbook users, as typing would have been that much easier given how every key has a large enough surface area for you to type on. A point to keep in mind is that given the notebook's generally small form factor, having larger keys means reducing the space between them keys, and consequently having the keys, that are to an extent, cramped and this can be problematic at times when typing. To compensate for not having a dedicated numpad, the associated number keys are printed on top of existing alphabetic keys and can be accessed through the alternate key functionality - this is a very handy feature. However despite all the positives, the springy nature of the AO 722's central area, where the keyboard is located, kind of brings the keyboards' overall usability factor down - the whole keyboard seems to depress when typing. Taking this into consideration, as well the fact that the tactile feel of the keyboard is not too satisfactory, typing for extended periods is not advisable.
The multi-gesture enabled touchpad has a smooth texture and is responsive. The glossy mouse button is also responsive and firm, and you don't have to exert too much of pressure to have the action of pressing it being recognised by the system. Acer also continues in its tradition of providing the handy functionality for disabling the touchpad - this is done by pressing the Fn and F7 buttons.
The Acer Aspire One 722 features a dual core AMD C-60, 1.23 GHz processor, 2GB DDR3 RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6250M graphics with 256MB of RAM and a 320GB (5400 RPM) hard drive.??
The AO 722 features a good collection of ports for a netbook. The netbook's left side has a USB 2.0 port, a 100Mbit Wired Ethernet port, VGA port, HDMI connector, and the power connector, as well as the exhaust vent. On the right side of the chassis are located the headphone and microphone jacks, a multi-card reader, a Kensington lock and two USB 2.0 ports. The netbook also features Wi-Fi 802.11 n and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity.
The AO 722 comes pre-installed with Windows 7 starter edition. In terms of pre-installed software on this netbook, you will find the generic Acer software such as Acer eRecovery management, Acer Identity card- which provides details about your netbook such as it's product name, serial number, part number and other related information pertaining to your netbook, Acer Crystal Eye Webcam, and Acer updater - as the name suggests it will update your system when run.
Also included in the pre-installed software set are the McAfee Internet Security Suite trial edition, Norton Online Backup trial edition, newsXpresso, and Skype.
The Acer Aspire One 722 netbook recorded a score of 42 on the Worldbench 6 benchmark - for comparisons sake, that would be relatively higher than what most of our other reviewed netbooks scored. A netbook is intended for activities such as Web browsing, basic productivity work and listening to music and the AO722 should have no problem in providing this level of performance. During synthetic testing, the netbook's hard disk recorded an average read speed of 58.0 MB/s and the netbook recorded a PC Mark Vantage score of 1902.
The Aspire One unit (it supports DX-11) did surprisingly have problems handling 720p and 1080p videos - however this should not be considered as a major drawback of this unit given its intended usage. Playing YouTube videos, as well as streaming 480p videos, should proceed without any hiccups. Similarly, you really shouldn’t be considering gaming on this system - save some retro games, browser based games and the like.
During testing, the Aspire One 7222 did tend to heat up - considerably more than some of other netbooks that we have reviewed. You notice the heat while touching the lower left base of the laptop - the area that is adjacent to the exhaust vent. While you don’t feel this heat on the palmrest area, given that the base tends to heat up, it is advisable not too use the netbook on the lap for an extended period of time. The netbook gives a better account of itself in the system noise levels area - it was barely audible during operation.
The AO 722's in-built speaker output levels provides for a relatively clear audio output, but one that is comparatively low in the loudness department - the bass levels are, as expected of an onboard net book speaker, low. Listening through a headphone would be the best option.
The netbook's six-cell battery lasted for three hours and nine minutes through one of our battery tests, at high performance mode, and having the wireless internet mode enabled. For a netbook this is a rather unimpressive statistic - the MSI Wind U160DX, which we reviewed earlier, lasted for six hours on the same battery test. Having said that, you should be able to extract around five-six hours out of the AO722's battery - at a conservative power scheme - for doing lighter everyday work such as browsing the web and listening to music.
There is a removable cover, located at the base of the netbook, which can be easily slid open once you remove the single screw that holds it in place. While the hard drive and memory modules are easily accessible, it has to be pointed out that when removing the cover, you will have to tear the Acer Warranty label, and this will void any warranty that Acer provides.
The Acer Aspire One 722, in both its design choice and hardware configuration, sets out to differentiate itself from the rest of the netbook crowd. Looking at the results of our benchmark tests, from a purely performance oriented angle - in most of the cases it outperformed, to varying degrees, netbook's that ran on Intel's Atom processor. Having extra perks like an 11.6-inch screen, HDMI ports definitely help the AO 722's case. However at the same time its overall value is brought down by factors such as the tendency of to heat up and the keyboards springiness, which doesn’t lend itself to a comfortable typing experience.
If you are a user who will be sticking to using this netbook for basic computing needs such as browsing, listening to music and other such activities the AO 722 is a good option to consider in the sub-£250 category.