Acer always seems to bring something new with their netbooks, and it's no different this time around with the Acer Aspire One Happy 2 netbook. This unit comes with a distinctively eye catching colour choice, features the Intel Atom N570 processor and has a dual boot feature allowing the user to boot either to the Windows 7 Starter edition or Android 2.3.1 OS - booting to the latter OS would be a useful option when you want to quickly perform a basic task, such as Web browsing, without having to go through the longer process of having to wait for the Windows OS to start up to access the required functionality.
The Acer Aspire One Happy 2 model comes in four 'fruity' colours, namely Banana Cream, Strawberry Yoghurt, Blueberry Shake and Papaya Milk - one could be forgiven for thinking that Acer had a tie up with some fruit juice manufacturer for releasing this netbook. The review unit I received had the glossy Papaya Milk shading, which covers the back-lid, the power button and the touchpad and mouse button, with the rest of the netbook retaining a white matte finish - the screen bezel had a white glossy finish. As is to be expected, the glossy areas do attract a lot of smudges and finger prints - but on the sections coloured in Papaya Milk, the shading does offset the visibility of these smudges to an extent from certain viewing angles. Also, just like the Acer Aspire One 722 netbook that we had reviewed earlier, this netbook also features the attractive droplet design on its backlid.
The power button is located at the top left corner right under the left hinge. Just like the Acer Aspire One 722 unit, this netbook's central section at the rear of the chassis - the area in between the two hinges - is slightly elevated and, as with the screen bezel, has a surface with a white glossy coating.
The AO Happy 2's chassis is smooth-edged around the edges and corners and weighs in at 1.25 kg. While the netbook has a plastic finish, it has an overall good build quality. There was no noticeable flex on the main chassis body. Under a bout of intense typing, there was some slight flex felt on the keyboard area: although, not to that large an extent as what was seen on the Acer One Aspire 722. This shouldn’t be taken as a downside, as when typing normally you don’t notice any flex on the keyboard area.
There is a webcam located at the top central section of the screen bezel. The speakers on the netbook are positioned along the left, central and right side of the frontal base.
Just like the A0722, this unit also comes with a mobile charger like adapter - it's most notable features is the absence of the bricklike feature.
The 10.1-inch glossy screen has a native resolution of 1024x600 - as it to be expected, under certain lighting conditions, the glossy nature of the screen can be, at times, an irritant to viewing images on the screen. The screen is bright, and the viewing angles are decent: you will notice the colour of the image on the screen darken from the bottom vertical viewing angle; you will get a rather lightened view of the images when looking from the top vertical angle; the horizontal (left and right) viewing angles are comparatively better with only a slight colour distortion when looking at the screen from an angle of 60-70 degrees respective to the centre of the screen. Just like the AO722, the Happy 2's screen can be tilted to almost 150-160 degrees backward - helping you to a certain extent in choosing the ideal viewing position relative to the screen.
The AO Happy 2 uses Acer's FineTip keyboard - the keys are rather elevated giving the impression that they're 'floating'. When considering the netbook's form factor, the keys are sufficiently well spaced. 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 - a very handy feature that was also present on the AO 722. The keys are overall responsive, although some users might find the tactile feedback to be a tad bit too hard.
The multi-gesture enabled touchpad has a smooth texture and is quiet responsive. The glossy mouse button is also responsive and firm. Acer 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 Happy 2 features a dual core Intel N570 1.66GHz processor, 1GB DDR3 RAM, Intel GMA 3150 graphics and a 320GB (5400 RPM) hard drive.
The AO Happy 2 features a standard collection of ports for a netbook. The netbook's left side has a USB 2.0 port, a 100Mbit Wired Ethernet port, a VGA port, 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. While it might be expecting too much of a netbook, I was rather disappointed that this netbook, unlike the AO 722, didn’t feature an HDMI port. ?
More details can be seen on this review's "Specifications" page.
The AO Happy 2 comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Starter Edition and Android 2.3.1 OS. In terms of software on the Windows section of this netbook, you will find the generic Acer software such as Acer eRecovery management, Acer Identity card, Acer Crystal Eye Webcam, Acer updater and Acer configuration manager through which users can switch between the Windows 7 starter edition and Android OS.
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 Happy 2 netbook recorded a score of 32 on the Worldbench 6 benchmark. Given this score, the AO Happy 2 netbook should be able to get you through handling daily activities such as Web browsing, basic productivity work and listening to music without any issues. During synthetic testing, the netbook's hard disk recorded an average read speed of 64.3 MB/s and the netbook recorded a PC Mark 7 score of 604.
While the Happy 2 unit did have problems handling 720p and 1080p videos, this should not be considered a major drawback to this unit given its intended usage. Playing YouTube videos, as well as streaming 480p videos, should proceed without any hiccups.
The AO Happy 2's speaker output levels are appropriate from a personal entertainment point of view - the overall sound is clear and pretty loud, but the bass levels are, as expected, low. Listening through a headphone would be the best option.
During testing, the Aspire One Happy 2 did tend to heat up, although not to that high an extent as the AO 722. You notice the heat while touching the left base of the laptop that is adjacent to the exhaust vent - You don’t feel this heat on the palmrest area. The netbook gives a better account of itself in the system noise levels area - it was barely audible during operation.
The laptop's six-cell battery lasted for three hours and forty three minutes through one of our battery tests, at high performance mode, and having the wireless internet mode enabled. This result is an expected statistic - it was slightly higher than the battery result clocked by the AO 722, which stood around some 3 hours and 9 minutes. Having said that, you should be able to extract around 5-6 plus hours out of the AO Happy 2's battery - at a conservative power scheme - for doing lighter every-day work such as browsing the web and listening to music.
Disappointingly, this netbook doesn't provide any easy way of accessing the inner hardware components - the only easily accessible component is the removable battery. If regular users want to access the innards for purposes of either upgrading or repairing the unit, they are suggested to have Acer folks handle those procedures.
The Acer Aspire One Happy 2 sells for around £229 and for that price range you get a decent netbook that is well built, sports an attractive design, and provides a standard performance. Additionally it offers users the choice of booting with Microsoft Windows 7 Starter edition or, for quicker access to functionality such as web browsing, Android 2.3.1.
The advantages of this unit got me thinking what could have been if Acer would have combined the good points from both this AO Happy 2 - pricing, good build quality - and the AO 722 - good performance, ease of upgradability. The resulting device would have been quite an ideal netbook. Alas, this is but an idea, but it would have been nice, if Acer had indeed come out with such a netbook.
This netbook doesn't feature an HDMI port, while not exactly a downside, would have been a very helpful feature. Moreover, using the N570 processor doesn’t really translate to that great an improvement in performance. So if you're looking for a lower priced netbook that covers all the bases when it comes to carrying out all the essential tasks that are expected of a netbook, the Acer Aspire One Happy 2 is a good candidate to consider.