Acer Aspire One D250 review

22 Oct 2009

Google's Android OS provides a disappointing distraction from an otherwise average netbook

Price when reviewed 
299
3

The first time we laid our hands on Acer's Aspire One D250, we were quietly impressed. A slimline netbook with some nice design touches, it was only the stiff competition that left it floundering. Now, however, the D250 can lay claim to one feat none of its competitors can. Not only does it have Windows 7 Starter Edition installed, it's also the first Android netbook.

Indeed, while neither the D250's figure nor its specifications are liable to excite uncontrollable lust, the presence of Android raises its appeal above the average netbook. First impressions are good, with Android booting up in just 15 seconds, and it also looks far neater than any instant-on OS we've seen before. Alas, anyone who's had the chance to meet Android on a smartphone should prepare for disappointment.

Android netbook home screen

Spend just a few minutes with the D250 and it's clear Android wasn't built with a trackpad and keyboard in mind. The inclusion of both Android's webkit-based browser and the more recognisable Mozilla Firefox almost seems to admit as much.

Indeed, where Android's browser makes sense on a smartphone's touchscreen, it just doesn't translate here. The process of clicking and holding the left mouse button, while pushing up to scroll the page down, seems clunky and counter-intuitive, and the lack of Flash support soon left us running back to Firefox's familiar embrace.

Even that Android-friendly incarnation of Firefox is less than stellar. It does at least support Flash, allowing you to catch up with the latest additions to iPlayer or YouTube, but jerky, unwatchable playback completely spoils the show.

That would be disappointing enough, but then there's the conspicuous lack of the Android Market to contend with. There's an option in the settings to allow software to be installed but, frustratingly, no way of actually buying any applications - at least at this early stage.

Android netbook apps

It's an omission that immediately curtails Android's aspirations. Checking email and perusing websites is possible, as is using Google Apps, and while there are music and photo applications, these come as some little recompense since they also prove clunky and unsophisticated.

It's a shame to admit it, but for most users it won't be long at all before the temptation to switch straight over to Windows 7 kicks in - a task, thankfully, made easy by the shortcut at the top-left of Android's home screen.

Details

Price ex VAT £260
Price inc VAT £299
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 259 x 184 x 33mm (WDH)
Weight 1.240kg
Travelling weight 1.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N270
Motherboard chipset Intel 945GSE Express
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
Graphics card RAM 128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi HTS545025B9A300
Optical disc technology None
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader yes
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 57min
Battery life, heavy use 3hr 42min
Overall application benchmark score 0.30
Office application benchmark score 0.34
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.30
Encoding application benchmark score 0.29
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.28
3D performance (crysis) low settings Fail
3D performance setting Fail

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Starter
OS family Windows 7