The most budget of the budget netbooks gets a good-looking makeover and a 10in. Is it an Eee-beater?
Spring has reached Stuff Towers, and it’s a good job because otherwise we may have missed one the Aspire One D150’s killer features – its new coated screen is incredibly easy on the eyes when used in bright daylight.
We hereby declare this to be a killer feature that all netbooks should have, much like the Eee PC’s web-friendly mouse. After all, reading the morning bloglines with a cup of a coffee in the sun is surely the definitive netbook experience.
Of course, nothing is perfect and, in the D150's case, the mitigating factor is that it struggles to find a Wi-Fi signal where other netbooks have surfed the net at blazing speed. The fact that Bluetooth doesn't come as standard on the cheaper models, though, does signpost the way to our bigger concern.
The original Aspire One, you see, was the first proper competitor for the 8.9in EeePC, and it won approval mainly because it was extraordinarily cheap, undercutting a similar Asus machine by a good £50 or so.
There's more competition in the 10in market, though, and dropping the option of a Linux-based OS is just one reason that the D150 is now matching other netbooks like the Eee PC 1000 and LG X110.
Battery still lacking
Even though it's been given a good-looking makeover with a mock-aluminium finish and just the right number of tasteful colour splashes, it has the same rubbish battery life of the original Aspire. Our review model came with a mere 2200mHa pack with just two hours' worth of juice.
Even with that screen, then, it's hard to recommend it over the cheaper, longer lasting Samsung NC10, which has a better keyboard to boot.
Why so many stars, then? There are couple of small refinements to its media abilities which finally won us over. For a start, the speakers are never going to win THX certification but they're significantly better than the norm for netbooks. They're surprisingly bassy, and music no longer sounds like it's being played through a kazoo.
More important, though, is the way the D150 handles video. It struggles with HD files, but is almost capable of smooth 720p playback. Certainly it has no issue with running DVD quality rips at fullscreen. Compared to other netbooks it's like walking into an Imax theatre for the first time.
We suspect this is down to the faster N280 Atom that Acer has snuck in under the bonnet, and it’s enough to pull the D150 back into favour. Now, back to that coffee and sun – better hurry, though, the battery's running out.
Acer Aspire One D150 review
The best screen we’ve seen on a netbook, but the battery life lets it down