The electronic ink had barely gone cold on our review of the Aspire D150 when Acer sent us a new version that looks startingly similar. The D250 has the same rich and colourful 10in screen, the same dashes of bright plastic on the hinges and the same robust if unexciting and slightly small keyboard. What, then, is new enough to justify yet another netbook release?

Here's a clue: it's no coincidence that the D250 arrived almost in the same plain brown envelope as the Toshiba NB200. Like Asus' Seashell design before it, both these machines are important for their MacBook Air-like thinness, creating an overall look that hardly suggests the parsimonious pricing.

How much?

And the Acer D250 is an all out winner on that score. At just £279 for the Windows XP version there's no significant price premium for the sleeker look. It's £100 cheaper than an Asus Seashell, and yet keeps toe to toe for performance.

It may not look as nice, but it's not far off. And while Acer's tiny netbook mousepad design stays resolutely unchanged despite all criticism, it's not a bad compromise considering the girth. We prefer the overall build of Tosh's NB200, but Acer has colour options which stray outside monochrome and beige.

Bad battery

The absence of Bluetooth on the lowest priced model and Wireless N on any of the D250s isn't too serious an oversight unless you’re a feature hunter who needs to complete their collection.

We can even live with the speakers, which like most netbooks appear to have been crafted from finest yoghurt pots. Less forgiveable, though, is the battery life.

With the standard three-cell unit the D250 can't even hit the two-hour mark from a full charge, and a six cell upgrade will cost £50 or more. You can't even blame it on the size – Asus' next Seashell, the 1005HA, claims to be capable of running for 11 hours in a single charge.

It's a real shame, because the D250 absolutely proves that thin is the way forward for netbooks – despite not being the same high build quality as the similarly priced Samsung NC10, if it was down to look and feel the Acer would clinch it.

But it's hard to understate how important battery life is for the netbook concept – and for that reason the Samsung NC10 remains the best 10inch choice for under £300.


Stuff says... 

Acer Aspire One D250 review

Incredible value for such a slim design, but we wished it could have squeezed in a better battery