With its burgundy palm rest and lid, the Acer Aspire One AOD150 notebook looks nice; not too flashy and not too dull. It has a good number of features, and it also has the best screen we have ever seen in a netbook, so it gets by on much more than just its good looks. In fact, out of all the netbooks we've tested to date, this is our favourite.
It's a 10.2in netbook with a fully featured keyboard (albeit one with small keys). The keys are smaller keys than the ones found on the ASUS Eee PC S101 (and nowhere near as big as the 17mm-wide keys found on the HP Mini 101TU), which means that the Acer is not as wide as the Eee PC. This makes it uncomfortable to type on for long periods of time, but eventually you get used to it. Touch-typists will have no problem using the keyboard as it has a regular QWERTY layout and large shift keys on both the left and right sides.
The Acer Aspire One AOD150 differs a little in layout to the 8.9in Aspire One ZG5, but it's not a complete overhaul of the original design; it still retains much of the original's look and feel. The touchpad's left- and right-click buttons are now located at the bottom of the touchpad, rather than either side of it; it has a teardrop-shaped hinge detail, rather than a circle; and it only has one SD slot, rather than two. In the original Linux-based Aspire One (the AOD150 uses Windows XP), the second SD slot was used to supplement the solid-state drive in the unit. The Linux-based operating system was able to combine the space from the drive and the memory slot, but in the new version of the Aspire One the hard drive is so capacious that the second slot is not needed.
There is a 160GB, 4200rpm hard drive in the Acer Aspire One AOD150, which is a massive step up from the 8GB solid-state drive found in the original Aspire One. It adds much needed space for applications, photos, music and videos, and it doesn't make too much noise, nor get too warm. It's also a relatively fast drive; we clocked it at 20.11 megabytes per second when copying files from one location on the drive to another, and this speed is on par with what we've seen from regular-sized laptops with 4200rpm hard drives.
The configuration of the Acer Aspire One AOD150 also includes a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM and Intel GMA950 graphics. In our CPU tests, the notebook was a little sluggish, but this didn't detract from the overall responsiveness of the unit when we used it for our daily tasks. It took 9min 33sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, for example, which is about 30sec longer than we expected, but it's not designed to be a quick machine for media encoding. For Web browsing, document creation, and watching compressed videos, it's perfect.
In our battery test the Aspire One AOD150 lasted 2hr 10min, which is 10min shorter time than the HP Mini 1001TU; the HP notebook has a battery that is rated at 26 Watt hours compared to the Aspire's 23.76Wh. The Acer could definitely use a beefier battery, but for a daily commute to and from the office or classroom it will be fine.
The unit looks great and feels good. It doesn't get overly warm, so it probably won't be uncomfortable after long periods of use on your lap. The touchpad feels smooth and is accurate, but we wish there was a physical distinction between the two buttons. They use a single piece of plastic, so they feel a little awkward to press.
Our main criticism of the Acer Aspire One AOD150 is that it does not have 802.11n wireless networking and Gigabit Ethernet. You do get 802.11g and 10/100 Ethernet, so it still can function on all types of networks, and it also has Bluetooth 2.0 for connecting headsets and other cordless peripherals. We like the fact there are three USB 2.0 ports and a D-Sub port, and there is also the afore-mentioned SD memory card slot.
Probably the best part about the Acer Aspire One AOD150 is its LED backlight-based 10.2in glossy screen. It has a resolution of 1024x600, which isn't tall enough for many dialogue boxes (such as in iTunes), but its colours and brightness are sublime. You can enjoy watching videos indoors or out, and its viewing angles are wide, so your friends can sit and watch too.
The unit has access panels for the hard drive and memory module, so it's easily upgradeable and repairable. This is another reason why the Aspire One AOD150 is so good. We think that if you're in the market for a netbook that looks good and has good features, it's hard to go past it.