Netbooks are very hot right now because of the poor economy and the hottest netbook of them all is the Acer Aspire One. Acer has several Aspire One machines and today we are going to toss the Aspire One D250 netbook onto the test bench and see what it is made of.
Just about every computer maker and a few companies that don't traditionally make computers are in the netbook market. The caveat to all the netbooks available to consumers today is that they are all virtually identical and many of them are the exact same machines with different brands attached.
Today we are going to look at one of the latest Acer Aspire One Netbooks -- the D250. This machine sports a 10.1-inch LED backlit screen and much more, so if you rare in the market for a netbook, you are in luck. If you have wondered what exactly makes the Aspire One line so popular, this will be the review for you.
As I said on the previous page, there are a lot of different Acer Aspire One machines. The netbook I am looking at today is the Aspire one D250-1165.
You can check out the main specifications in the image below. The computer I am testing is optioned with the worst of the three available batteries -- the 3-cell 2200mAh unit.
Packaging and the Aspire One D250
The first thing you notice about the D250 when you start fiddling about with it is that Acer uses a glossy box that is much fancier than most netbook packages. That is hardly a feature mind you, but it's a nice box nonetheless.
Pry the little netbook out of its box and you get a look at the undeniably attractive little machine. My review unit was blue, but black, red, or white versions are available as well.
This is a shot of the back of the machine. Near the bottom of the shot is the 3-cell battery my test unit came with for a nice and sleek profile. Larger batteries will change the looks of the rear.
This shot shows the right side of the D250 where you find the memory card reader, two USB ports, the power port and the Kensington lock port.
The left side of the machine crams in several things including a heat vent, RJ-45 port, VGA out, USB port and the mic and headphone jacks.
The front edge of the netbook is plain with nothing to see but the power LED and a switch that turns Wi-Fi on and off.
Open the lid and you get a glimpse at the keyboard of the machine, which offers exactly what you expect to find on a quality netbook.
The LED backlit 10.1-inch LCD has a glossy coating and if you read many of my reviews you know I don't care for glossy screens, but the D250's performs well, as we will see later in the review.
The 3-cell battery may be puny and offer less battery life, but if ultimate portability is what you are after the flush mount 3-cell may be the best option for you. Look at the thin profile of the D250 with the battery installed.
On the bottom of the machine there are several heat vents and intakes as well as the covers over the RAM, HDD and expansion slots.
Benchmarks - Battery Life, Audio & Video Encoding
Now we are getting into the benchmarks for the Aspire One D250. I will be using the normal netbook suite for this review including our battery life test using Battery Eater Pro along with our audio and video encoding tests.
The benchmarks for the D250 look very much like the benchmarks for the other netbooks I have tested, check them out below.
Battery Eater Pro
The first benchmark up for the D250 is Battery Eater Pro. As always, keep in mind that this is a synthetic test that allows for easy comparison, but real world results will vary. The paltry 3-cell battery in the D250 was no match for the larger batteries in most of the other netbooks and notebooks I have tested. Check out the image below for the full results.
Version and / or Patch Used: 7.1.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.apple.com
Product Homepage: http://www.apple.com/itunes
Next up is our iTunes encoding test where I take a 12-track Stone Temple Pilots album and encode the files from MP3 to AAC and time the process with a stopwatch. Keep in mind that some of the early reviews used a different album and the image below is marked if the tests used were different.
Version and / or Patch Used: 9
Developer Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com
Product Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx
Next up is our movie encoding test where I take the 1080p Wonder of Flight video and encode it to a DVD quality video suitable for streaming. Some of the machines in the chart below used a different test video, so be sure and look at the notations beside some machines before comparing results.
Hands on Use
Now it's time for my favorite part of the review, hands on use. Benchmarks can only tell you part of the story and that statement was never as true as it is with a netbook. The first thing I want to talk about is the screen. My dislike for all glossy screens aside, the D250 has a nice screen. The little machine has good color reproduction and decent black levels. It's bright enough to see clearly in a bright room or outside, though glare could be a problem.
Keyboards are important on all netbooks and the D250 has a nice keyboard that has everything you expect to find on a quality netbook and nothing more. The keys are well spaced, the right shift key is properly located and full size and typing feel is good. The keys offer good resistance and a nice tactile feel. Overall, the keyboard is fine even if it doesn't stand out from the crowd.
The track pad is placed very close to the keyboard and is the same color as the wrist rest area. That makes it hard to see if you are working in a room with poor lighting. The right and left buttons are under the track pad where they should be thankfully. Some users may find that the placement of the track pad makes it easy to hit with the heel of your palm when typing. I did this several times and moved the cursor, making text garbled.
My test machine lacked the WAN card, but there is an expansion port to add an internal modem, should you decide you need mobile Internet access. My test machine is Bluetooth equipped as well. The onboard sound system is decent and typical of netbooks and notebooks in general. The speakers have decent volume, but lack bass and really don't stand out from the pack. The machine is also equipped with a webcam.
After all the testing is done and my time with the Acer Aspire One D250 is over, I can sum up my thoughts about the machine in one word - meh! - There is nothing in particular that is wrong with the D250. It works well and offers everything that you would want in a netbook. After putting my sweaty mitts on a plethora of notebooks and netbooks over the last few weeks, I simply want more.
A user looking to buy their first netbook will like the D250. One big plus for the machine is you can walk into many Walmart stores, pick the thing up and take it home. I honestly think the fantastic retail availability for this thing is the reason the Aspire One line is tops in the netbook market.
As I said, there is nothing wrong with the D250. The rig has a nice keyboard, a nice screen and nice performance. The problem for me is that the D250 does nothing to set itself apart from the pack other than perhaps having a nicer box. If you already have a netbook and are wanting to upgrade to something nicer, unless yours really sucks, the D250 is probably more of the same. If you don't own a netbook and want one, the D250 is in all honesty a great option, as are many of the other netbooks on the market.
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