Acer Aspire One 531 netbook review

The new Acer Aspire One 531 is a perfect example. While the screen has received a much needed size increase, the chassis has been slimmed down considerably, with excess fat being shaved off at almost every turn. The result is a lappie that offers both a larger, more practical screen than its 8.9-inch predecessor, and a weight that’s pretty much the same. The new slim design looks better than ever too.

The new processor – an Intel Atom N280 – offers only a marginal GHz increase, but it generates less heat, and thus less fan noise, and its basic operation is noticeably faster too. You still won’t be editing HD videos on it, of course, but for day-to-day email, web browsing, editing Word docs or listening to music, it’s easily up to the kind of tasks you’ll be asking of it. And this time you can actually run multiple programs at the same time without reducing speeds to a frustrating crawl.

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These aren’t the only improvements either: the ghastly trackpad with the peculiarly aligned mouse buttons, which were the bane of the original Aspire One, has been replaced with a proper trackpad. It’s fast, precise and it has the mouse buttons finally in the right place.

Not much has changed on the keyboard front, but that’s no bad thing. The Aspire One’s keyboard was already one of the strongest around – at 89% of full size, it’s a doddle to get your fingers used to and you can expect to be up to full typing speeds in no time.

It isn’t completely perfect though – the arrow keys are still a little too cramped for comfort and this time Acer, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to cut the top off the Enter key to slip in a ‘’ key, which really should have been positioned elsewhere. The result is that it becomes all too easy to hit Enter and when you’re searching the web. It’s a real shame, because on a system that offers improvements in so many other places, it seems like a staggering oversight.

The new Aspire One provides the same healthy range of connectors and connections as before, with the addition of 3G data connectivity. You’ve got three USB ports (two on the right, one on the left), a VGA output, Ethernet and, uniquely, a pair of card slots. One of them will read multiple card memory types, while the other is for SD only and designed to enhance the system’s storage space. Although with over 140GB on board as standard, you’re not in much danger of running short.

Full review @ www.t3.com