Acer Aspire One 522 review

4 May 2011

The AMD processor and screen resolution give it a massive advantage, but it desperately needs a bigger battery

Price when reviewed 
259
4

With so many netbooks sporting very similar specifications, it takes something special to really stand out: a USB 3 port perhaps or, as in this case, a high-resolution screen. Unlike the vast majority of netbooks, Acer’s Aspire One 522 steps up from 1,024 x 600 to a much more usable 1,280 x 720, and the difference it makes to the user experience is remarkable.

It’s still a 10.1in display but it feels much larger, displaying a good chunk of a web page where lower resolutions often get little more than the main headline. The glossy panel isn’t anything special when it comes to colour reproduction or contrast levels, but the key strength is that it feels like a proper desktop, which is not something you generally feel when using a netbook.

You also get the benefit of AMD’s C-50 processor, whose integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics chip handles media tasks more comfortably than Intel's Atoms. It won’t have you tearing round the jungles of Crysis, but it can run mainstream games at several times the frame rate of Intel’s integrated graphics, and it played back high-quality YouTube and iPlayer streams and 1080p MKV files smoothly – with the bonus of an HDMI port to blow that up to living room size.

Acer Aspire One 522

The Aspire 522 is exceedingly thin and light, weighing just 1.06kg, yet the build feels pretty sturdy. The flat-top keys avoid the miniaturisation that blights many netbooks, and the plastic lid feels strong enough to protect the panel in a bag. (Thankfully, it’s also available in colours other than sickly green.) There are three USB 2 ports and a card reader around the sides, and a 1.3-megapixel webcam sits above the screen.

If it all sounds like netbook perfection, there’s one large stumbling block that prevents us from fully endorsing the Aspire One 522. Presumably to keep costs manageable, Acer has opted for a puny 2,200mAh battery, which gave us just 4hrs 2mins of general browsing time. If it were a 15in laptop we’d barely let that pass, but it’s simply unacceptable in netbook terms, particularly with some rivals lasting ten hours.

It’s disappointing, as in most other ways the Aspire One 522 is ahead of the pack. The screen is a huge plus few netbooks can match, the processor and the graphics chip are as fast as netbooks currently offer, and the 250GB hard disk and port selection are fine for such a reasonable price. But that battery means we can only really recommend it in the unlikely event that you don’t intend to use your netbook on the move.

Details

Price ex VAT £216
Price inc VAT £259
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base International

Physical specifications

Dimensions 259 x 185 x 27mm (WDH)
Weight 1.060kg
Travelling weight 1.3kg

Processor and memory

Processor AMD C-50
Motherboard chipset AMD Fusion
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 720
Resolution 1280 x 720
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 6250
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Hard disk Toshiba MK2565GSX
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

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

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 2min

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partiion