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My wife has always moaned that she could never get onto the family PC as it was always being used by either my kids or myself. After doing a bit of research, she convinced me to buy her the Acer Aspire One netbook which she would use for web browsing and writing simple documents. I was a bit sceptical of the device, after all, to me it was just a cheap laptop. But, alas, she won and off I went to Currys armed with my credit card to begrudingly buy her one.
--In the box--
The box in which the Aspire comes is very small. You'd be able to fit it under your arm and carry it no problem. As well as the netbook, there was a mains battery charger, a user manual and a recovery cd which I thought was strange considering there isnt a cd driver in the netbook!!
I must admit I found this impressive. From turning on to booting up was 15 seconds. A wizard takes you through all the standard setup questions such as region, time zones, etc. Even setting up the wireless network connection was a breeze, this was always something I was a bit wary about having had previous experience of Linux and knowing how picky it could be. Within 5 minutes of switching on for the very first time, we had a fully working internet connected netbook. The most impressive setup feature was still to come though. I wanted the netbook to be able to connect to my network printer, the HP Photosmart 3210. I thought the netbook wouldnt stand a chance of knowing about this printer without the need for 3rd party drivers. How wrong I was!! I clicked the add printer button, found my printer to my amazement and hey presto it was installed and working in seconds leaving me gobsmacked but very happy indeed.
--Internet and Email--
The netbook uses the Firefox browser and as far as I can tell, it is exactly the same version you would expect to see on a normal desktop, laptop computer. With this in mind I wont go into too much detail here.
The email client is Acers own aspire mail. This behaves like any basic email client such as Outlook Express and again, was very easy to set up to connect to my ISP (Virgin) although you do need to know the names of the POP3 and SMTP servers beforehand.
For all you MSN addicts out there, the Aspire comes with its own version of messenger which is compatible with both Yahoo and MSN/Windows Live services. As the netbook comes with a built in webcam, you can use this with both services although I found it fiddly to get it to work with MSN as I had ticked a box to make use of advanced MSN features which disabled the camera!!!
The Aspire comes with Open Office preinstalled. Open Office is an opensource rival to Microsoft Office with most document types being compatible. First impressions of Open Office were that it looks almost identical to MS Office without taking ages to load. Opening an MS Word document with Open Office couldnt be easier, all formatting was exactly how it should have been, nothing was out of place.
Other office style utilities are also preinstalled, programs such as calculator, calendar, organiser, picture editor, video editor and file explorer are all worthy of a look if you are lucky enough to be able to play on this netbook.
Finally in terms of software, the Aspire comes with about 10 games (roughly half of these are trial/time contrained games). These are mostly puzzle games and are fairly addictive.
The user interface is absoloutely perfect for any user, be the a novice or expert. All functions are accessible from a menu structure and there are no start bars, like in XP. You really cant get into any mess by going deep into the system and not knowing how to come back out.
This little toy has won me over. The clarity of the screen is so much better than I ever could have imagined on something so small. Bootup time is almost instant, useage is simple, battery life good. In fact, I am really struggling to find anything bad to say about it. Its just great!!!