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Customer Review

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Looks great - performance *slightly* sluggish., 27 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: Acer Aspire One 751, 11.6-Inch HD LED Netbook, Intel Atom Z520, 1.22 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB, XP Home, up to 7 Hours Battery Life, Webcam, Wifi (Black) (Electronics)
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My other netbook cost about half the price of this model - with correspondingly low specifications - so I was curious to see how the Acer Aspire would compare.

APPEARANCE:
First impressions were good. This is an elegant, classy looking machine. Its sleek curves are perhaps *slightly* spoiled by the clunky-looking battery, but I suppose that's a matter of personal taste.

However, I suspect that the slim lines come at a cost - the Acer feels quite flimsy compared to my cheaper machine, especially the lid/screen which is perhaps far too thin for its own good.

The keyboard looks nice, but *feels* cheap when used. The criticism that "it's like typing on a sponge" is too harsh, but does contain an element of truth - the whole keyboard flexes slightly in use.

The monitor has a high-gloss finish. I like this, but I see why some people hate it. In certain lighting conditions, it's almost like looking into a mirror.

PRE-INSTALLED APPLICATIONS
Very basic, and you'll probably end up looking elsewhere for decent software. It does come with decent anti-virus/security software, which is essential for windows machines.

The software includes a backup utility, and the manual warns you severely that you should back up your machine BEFORE starting to use it. Fair enough, and VERY good advice. But, oops. You can't, unless you have an external CD/DVD writer to plug in, because (like most netbooks) the Acer has no built-in drive. "Contact your retailer", it says...
It would have been sensible to have the option to do the backup to a plug-in USB drive, or even a USB flash drive.

SPEED:
Overall, this is my biggest disappointment with the machine. It comes with a 1.33 GHz processor and 1 gig of RAM but it doesn't feel like it. Boot-up time was a bit longer than I expected. More importantly, the machine also feels quite sluggish in normal use, frequently with annoying pauses between clicking a program's icon and the program actually running. It really struggled with heavy-duty applications.

Since Windows installations tend to slow down over time, I could see this becoming a major annoyance.

SUMMARY.
As it stands, out of the box, it's hard to give this machine more than a lukewarm review. It looks great, but in use there's a definite feeling that it should be performing better, given its specifications, and that you're paying a premium for its small size and elegant appearance.

Personally, I suspect that Windows XP is a bit too 'heavy' for this machine, so my next plan will be to install a different operating system and see what happens. Since that falls outside the scope of this review I'll append my experiences in a comment below.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Aug 2009 11:10:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Aug 2009 11:12:56 BDT
Lector says:
As promised, here's an 'addendum' to my review.
The first bit is about Linux (with apologies to Windows fans!), the second is about a memory upgrade.

First I got rid of Microsoft Windows and installed Ubuntu Linux. This immediately speeded up the boot time (about a minute for Windows, about 20 seconds for Linux). The general speed of performance also increased quite a bit. I'm now convinced that it's a mistake to ship these machines with Windows installed, though I fully understand the commercial reasons for doing so (people 'know' windows).

For anyone wishing to try it, the upgrade to Linux was easy enough, but not 100% painless.
***Only try it if you know what you're doing, or have a techie friend to help***
I found that the display (while perfectly usable) looked a bit odd because of the Acer's 1366x768 monitor. A quick websearch provided an easy solution, so that was OK.

I still haven't succeeded in getting some of the Linux 'eye-candy' features to work (specifically the 'wobbly windows' and spinning desktop cube). This is a issue with the Acer's Intel graphics card. I can live without those eye-candy features, though, until I find time to explore ways to get them running.

I chose Ubuntu Linux just because I have it on my other non-Windows machines and I'm comfortable with how it works. I could perhaps have chosen a lighter-weight Linux (Puppy Linux, perhaps) and got an even better performance increase. In any case, now I don't need any anti-virus software to slow down my system, and all the software I could possibly need is free. Nice.

I now like my Acer MUCH more, but I still can't get away from the feeling that it should be faster than its specs suggest. For purposes of comparison, my other netbook was a cheapie EEEPC, with a 9Mh processor, yet everything seems to run at least as fast as on the Acer's 1.3Gh chip.

However, at least now it's a machine I can actually USE, and I'll probably 'retire' my little EEEPC.

I've also upgraded the memory to 2 Gigs. The memory cost about 15 quid from Crucial, and was incredibly easy to install. Again there was a noticeable improvement in performance. Even (or especially?) if you want to stick with the pre-installed XP, you should consider this a near-essential upgrade.

If the machine had been like this when I first got it, I would have had no problem giving 4-5 stars.
If anyone has any other questions about this computer, feel free to post here, and I'll try to reply.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Sep 2009 21:00:26 BDT
H. Gutmann says:
Do you have any experience (with Windows XP or Linux) watching mpeg4-movies (or even h.264) on this machine? As I have converted a major part of my dvd collection on h.264 I am searching for a "nice-looking" netbook to be able to watch them while traveling.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2009 14:03:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Sep 2009 16:00:00 BDT
Lector says:
"Do you have any experience (with Windows XP or Linux) watching mpeg4-movies?"

Ok. I've tried this now. The one-line answer is that I don't think I'd recommend this machine as an on-the-go movie viewer.

However, video isn't really my 'thing', so here's what I did (in case I did something stupid!)

I picked a random DVD (it happened to be 'V for Vendetta'). I transferred it to mp4 format (giving a final file size of 1 gig).

Then I tried to watch it on my Acer. Using Movie Player, the default Ubuntu application, the result was *dreadfully* jerky and totally impossible to watch. I then tried another application I like (VLC media player). This was much better. With this setup I *could* watch and enjoy the movie, but it wasn't perfect, and had occasional jerks.

Finally, just for curiosity, and expecting the results to be REALLY dreadful, I tried to watch it on my little eeepc 901.

This made me even more certain that the Acer machine's hardware isn't quite right somewhere. On the eeepc, the movie was great and *perfectly* watchable on both Movie Player and VLC Player.

I can't speak for movie playback in Windows, because I have no intention of ever putting windows on the Acer again.
However I'd better point out that current versions of Linux may not be 100% happy with the Intel graphics chip in the Acer. XP might actually give better performance in this regard.

Bottom line - If you wanted a little computer-cum-movie player, I personally wouldn't recommend this machine.
As I've said, my little eeepc 901 movies better than the Acer (and that's with half the memory and a less powerful CPU!). The eeepc is a bit past it's sell-by date, so you may be able to get one 2nd hand at a low price. The only downside is that the battery time doesn't match that of the Acer.

Leaving the subject of movies, but as another postscript to my original review, I'm finding that I still prefer the little eeepc in lots of other ways. It's only about 2/3 or 3/4 of the size of the Acer, and is MUCH more portable. The Acer is a neat little machine, but kinda falls between two stools, size-wise. I'm finding that when I want portability, I still take the eeepc. When I want a bit more size and power, I just take my full-size laptop.

Anyway, I hope somebody finds this helpful!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Sep 2009 14:59:13 BDT
Yes it is useful!

I've had exectly the same experience with my new 751; 2gb does speed it up somewhat, but the HD playback is jumpy. Thanks for the updates; I think a non-tech like myself is better sticking with the devil he knows...

Posted on 17 Sep 2009 18:39:12 BDT
clemenzina says:
I bought an Advent 4211 (MSI Wind clone) which is presently to-ing and fro-ing between me and Curry's because of power and battery faults. Otherwise it's a nice little operator. This Acer attracted my attention because it appears to have higher screen resolution, but you say there's something strange about it - could you explain please?

Having poorly eyes, I would love to find a netbook that doesn't have 'dotty' text yet doesn't cost over £300 (I've seen something at about £500 :( )

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2009 20:16:23 BDT
P. Cooper says:
I think there are issues with the cheap graphics hardware in the 751 - the chipset doesn't seem to be very good at handling large numbers of changes to the display in a short period of time. I don't know if it's software or hardware, but in any case it doesn't work very well if you try to watch a full-screen video.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2009 12:08:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Sep 2009 12:08:55 BDT
Lector says:
"This Acer attracted my attention because it appears to have higher screen resolution, but you say there's something strange about it - could you explain please?"

It's not so much that the resolution is strange - it's just that because it's a very wide screen, my initial install of Linux looked *slightly* stretched out across the screen (not the fault of the machine!), but there was a very simple fix for this. If you stick with XP, it wouldn't even be an issue.

However, I do agree with the post about the cheap graphics hardware. I've consistently found that my EEEPC 901, which is a far less powerful machine, actually handles all graphics much, MUCH better than the acer.

In fact, now that I've been using the machine for a while...
OK, I'll be brutally honest... I got my Acer as a free machine for review purposes. As a freebie, spare machine to play with, I'm happy with it. But if I'd actually paid anything like the retail price of the machine, I would be far from happy, especially on the basis of my prior experience with the much cheaper (and now obsolete?) EEEPC 901. True, the 901 has minimal drive space (20 Gigs), but in just about every other way it continues to out-perform the Acer.

Posted on 30 Sep 2009 15:39:42 BDT
I. Johnston says:
Having just had the chip of my less than 2year old Aspire burn out I am really off this make!! I was told I should not have used it on my lap (Only after it happened!) also, when I took it back to the shop, the engineer said the chip was "infamous" for burning out - I was not told that when I bought it either! I am furious that my hard-earned money has been wasted and that I have no come back other than to publicise this fault where I can so that no-one else can be caught out like me. DON't buy and ACER!!! I can't afford another one as I am no longer working - there must be others in a far worse situation than I being duped by this company.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Oct 2009 08:41:00 BDT
You may have a come back if the chip really has a 'known' problem, also the machine has to be fit for sale/purpose and you may be able to claim that it was not. Check at the CAB.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Oct 2009 12:53:33 BDT
Lector says:
Ok, guys, this will probably be my last post about this machine (I don't want to spend the rest of my life writing this one review!!).

In my original review, I mentioned that the ultra-thin lid/screen seemed a little too flimsy for its own good. I now note that in other reviews across the internet people are starting to complain about screens cracking and failing on this machine, even under minimal usage (For the record, mine is still fine).
The other recurrent note is the other thing I mentioned: the graphics ability of the machine seems a bit below par.

My final note to anyone thinking of purchasing this netbook would be: Do some Google research and make up your own mind about the frequency/seriousness of the problems with the 751.
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