Acer – Aspire One D250 review

10.1-inch netbook driven by Intel's Atom N280 processor
Photo of Acer – Aspire One D250
£329

There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to netbooks, but that hasn’t stopped Acer churning out a raft of new models. What we’ve got here is the Aspire One D250, which is the follow-up to the original and very impressive Aspire One.

Netbook screen sizes have been creeping up ever since the Asus Eee PC arrived on the scene with it’s eye-squintingly small 7-inch display. The original Aspire One featured a much more usable 8.9-inch screen, and the D250 pushes this up to 10.1-inches. The resolution stays the same as the 8.9-inch model, though (1024 x 600), so there’s no extra desktop real estate to be had.

What we can say is that the Aspire One D250′s screen is absolutely stunning in terms of quality. Many will baulk at its glossy coating that proves something of a magnet for reflections, but it’s bright and does a great job of making colours look bold. It’s also a superb performer when used outside during the glorious British summer, remaining perfectly visible even when out dragged out of the shade. If you enjoy making the most of the sunshine while working, the Aspire One D250 is the netbook for you.

So what else has changed compared to the original Aspire One? Well, the chassis has had a bit of a redesign, but it’s mainly cosmetic. There are the same three USB ports, Ethernet and VGA-out dotted around the sides, however there’s only one memory card slot (the original Aspire One featured two card slots; one for reading cards, the other for adding extra storage).

The hard drive capacity has been upped from 120GB to 160GB, but despite many of its rivals featuring the latest 802.11n WiFi, Acer is still stubbornly sticking with 802.11b/g. Other bits and bobs include Bluetooth, a built-in VGA webcam and a switch to quickly bash the Aspire One D250′s wireless on the head in an effort to save battery life.

A bigger display demands a bigger chassis and, therefore, offers the possibility for a larger keyboard. Acer, however, has stuck with the keyboard from the original Aspire One. It’s not a total disaster, and as we stated in our review of the Aspire One it doesn’t take too long to get used to. That said, it’s still something of a missed opportunity.

The mouse buttons take the form of a single rocker bar just below the trackpad, but being so small and thin it’s ridiculously frustrating to operate. To make matters worse, it’s also incredibly stiff and requires a firm shove.

Inside, the Aspire One D250 employs Intel’s latest Atom N280 processor, which is a step forward from the 1.6GHz N270. In fact, it’s more of a shuffle forward, since at 1.66GHz it’s a mere 0.06GHz faster. Will you notice an improvement in performance compared to the N270? Absolutely not. It does, however, run cooler than the N270, meaning it requires less fan assistance and, in turn, is kinder on the battery.

The CPU is provided with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, which the means the installed Windows XP Home runs reasonably smoothly. Upgrading to 2GB is as easy as unscrewing a flap on the underside of the D250 and inserting a new module, but since only one slot is available you’ll have to first ditch the 1GB module.

A three-cell battery is included as standard and sits neatly within the confines of the small chassis (a six-cell battery is an optional extra). Running the netbook at full pelt, we managed just over two and a half hours before the D250 cried out for the mains. If you do little more than word processing and web browsing you can expect around three to four hours, which isn’t at all bad.

As far as portability goes, weighing just 1.11kg and measuring 258.5mm wide, 184mm deep and 25.4mm tall, you’ll have no problem taking this netbook on long journeys.

Company: Acer

Contact: 0870 853 1005


Verdict
There's no doubt that the D250 is a step forward compared to the original Aspire One. We were, however, hoping for more of a leap forward from Acer. Yes, the use of Intel's latest N280 CPU and the excellent screen are both plus points, and it's priced with rival offerings, but we're left wondering why Acer didn't furnish it with 802.11n WiFi and, perhaps more importantly, why it didn't take the opportunity to design a slightly bigger keyboard. And with the Asus Eee PC 1000HE offering vastly better battery life and a more usable keyboard, the Aspire One D250 just misses out on a Recommended award.