This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Review: Acer Aspire AOA-150
After a couple of years of lugging around a 17" "desktop replacement" laptop, I decided to try a netbook. I loved the huge screen of my old laptop; however, I never took it anywhere because it was just too bulky.

So I've traded in that 17" screen for a roomy 8.9" one.

Acer Aspire One

I picked up an Acer Aspire One on Amazon for well under $400. It has a 1.6 GHZ Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB HDD and a 6-hour battery. Best of all, unlike my previous laptop, this one doesn't come with Vista installed.

The Good
I love the form factor. It is incredibly small. Not much bigger than a hardcover book. It is also really light. I can easily carry this on a plane (and actually use it on those tiny tray tables) or even use it on a roadtrip if needed.

Acer Aspire One
Comparing the Acer Aspire One to my Moto Q9h

The battery life is also excellent. The 6-cell battery gives me just a little over 6 hours on a single charge. That's perfect for travel.

The performance is also very good. Because it is running Windows XP, the 1.6GHZ processor and 1GB of RAM are adequate to keep it responsive and fast. Vista was a nightmare on my older laptop, so it is nice to have something that just works.

There is a lot of storage (for a netbook). I opted for the 160GB hard drive over a smaller SSD (which would have required I use a Linux-based OS). Gives me the same amount of storage I had on my old laptop, so I can easily carry around all of my digital photos and my music library.

The Bad
The only complaint that I have is the ergonomics of the touchpad. In order to keep things compact, Acer chose to put the left and right click buttons on either side of the touchpad rather than at the bottom. This is a pretty big adjustment to make.

It's not a dealbreaker since you can also left click by tapping the touchpad; however, copying and pasting text or cropping photos can be a challenge.

Another minor issue was the lack of Bluetooth.

I was able to overcome both of those issue myself by picking up a Kensington Micro USB Bluetooth adapter (which is about the size of a penny) and a Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. The adapter stays tucked in one of my USB ports, so I can just grab the mouse and go. The mouse works on just about any surface, so I don't need to be sitting at a desk or table to use it.

While it isn't an issue for me, I should note that all netbooks lack an optical drive. Not a big deal for me since I never used mine. I have a huge library of movies ripped and converted to Divx, so I will just transfer those over to the Aspire One prior to any flights or roadtrips rather than carry around DVDs.

The bottom line
If you are looking to go ultra-portable on the cheap, I highly recommend the Acer Aspire One. For well under $450, you get the form factor, battery life and all the needed accessories (case, mouse, etc.) to go anywhere.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.