27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2012
I've used this 11.6" netbook since July 25th. Here are my impressions to add to others' reviews on the Acer AO756. I own the 4GB/500GB HDD AO756 Celeron 877 model. I realize this is the review area for the Pentium model, but the two are *so* close in performance, they are basically the same. And with so few reviews here for this model, I thought a bit longer one might be helpful.
WEI SCORE: (5 stars out of 5)
Default out of the box was:
CPU-4.7, RAM-5.9, GPU-4.5, Game-4.5, HDD-5.9
Reran it to get:
CPU-4.7, RAM-5.9, GPU-4.5, Game-4.7, HDD-5.9
The WEI processor score on the Pentium 967 is 4.3, if you buy that model.
Not sure why, but the gaming score upped itself when I reran the WEI test, so if your score is lower, run the test again.
DESIGN: (6 stars out of 5)
In this day of thin netbooks being nearly impossible to upgrade nor easy to gain access to the HDD or wireless card, the 756 shines like a beacon for the others. The bottom plate is easily removed by taking off one screw and sliding the bottom plate toward you. Underneath has *very* easy access to the HDD, 2 RAM slots (one filled) and the wireless card. For this, you rock for me, Acer!
The weight is only 2 lbs 15 oz. *Very* light and thin for a $300 netbook.
PROCESSOR: (5 stars out of 5)
I'll probably say this several times throughout this review: This is a very fast, "snappy" netbook! I'm impressed. Using the Celeron 877, I am amazed at how responsive it is, though if you get the Pentium 967 model, it is very close to the 877's performance and still be an excellent purchase. I'd debated over the Celeron 877 model and the Pentium 967 model, but looking at their respective specs, I could find *no* differences between the two processors (they even have the identical cache) except that the 877 runs at 1.4GHz and the Pentium 967 at 1.3GHz. Passmark confirms that the Celeron is the slightly-better processor. Here are a few Passmark scores to give a comparison of present dual-core netbook processors:
Acer AO722's AMD C-50: 449
Acer AO725's AMD C-60: 558
ASUS 1015PX's Atom N570: 638
Acer AO756's Pentium 967: 1,246
Acer AO756's Celeron 877: 1,430
WEI reports the Pentium 967 as a 4.3 score and the Celeron as 4.7.
RAM: (5 stars out of 5)
Mine came with a single stick of Nanya 4GB DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10600). Nothing fancy here. It's basic RAM and it works well.
Not that I needed it, but I upgraded it to 8GB (2x 4GB) PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz RAM -- yet honestly, I'm just being silly with money to burn. This unit runs fine on the provided 4GB. I merely upgraded to see what would happen ... and because I could!
I ran WEI again and got:
CPU-4.7, RAM-7.5, GPU-4.9, Game-5.7, HDD-5.9
So as reported by others, upping the RAM to 8GB dual-channel upped WEI's memory score from 5.9 to 7.5, the graphics score from 4.5 to 4.9, and the gaming graphics score from 4.7 to 5.7. In real-life terms, I'm not sure this really matters ... but I suppose it's cool for bragging rights. ;)
WIRELESS CARD: (5 stars out of 5)
What can I say? It works. It features an Atheros wireless-N card that works very well and connects perfectly to my wireless-N Linksys EA3500 router. Because I wanted bluetooth as well, I changed it out for an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 wireless card w/ BT. Opening it up (did I mention that the entire bottom plate slides off easily exposing the HDD, RAM & wireless card?), I was able to change out the wireless card in less than 5 min. My included BT now works perfectly as well!
DISPLAY: (4 stars out of 5, though several would probably disagree with me)
I *love* the 1366x768 resolution, though it does make the display fonts seem small for me, so I've increased the default size of the display fonts on Windows to 110%. I also love the vivid colors. Images seem sharp.
Viewing angles to the left & right of the display seem *excellent*. Up & down viewing angles are only "okay" (not great but not awful either.) For these, I'd give it 6 stars ... very, very good / above average.
Where this display falls short (3 stars) for me, is for the amount of light bleed & poor black levels. Yes, I know I'm being picky, and several may think my expectations too high for a $300 netbook, but this is important to me when watching a video or Hulu. Like most notebook displays today, the display has mediocre contrast & black levels and what appears to be light bleed but may just be the typically-substandard contrast & black levels. Blacks, esp in the lower third, appear to be muddy, washed-out greys. This is most easily obvious on boot up when the Acer screen and then the black Windows 7 screen appears. Positioning the screen to as-good-as-possible up+down levels (just before the top 1/3 goes into negative), the middle band is black with a lighter bar on the top and a washed-out grey bottom third.
Oh, how I wish they'd spend more on the display and get us MBP-quality screens. I could say that is an unfair expectation to make of a $300 netbook, but comparing this screen to my $300 ASUS 10" 1000HA, my ASUS is *much* brighter (the 756 looks a bit yellowish) and blacks are supurb. The contrast on my 10" is 800:1, whereas the contrast on this unit is likely only 200:1. If they could do it on a first-gen 10" netbooks (Acer & MSI as well), why not the 11.6"? If money is the issue, then charge me $50-75 more. I'd gladly pay it!
Going into BB, I saw that *most* of the notebooks had the same basic substandard contrast ratio & muddy-gray black level displays ... until I wandered over to the Apple table. Every model's display was perfect. Blacks were really black and whites were white. Good brightness too. Macs continue to be the gold standard for notebook displays, but they are at least $1,200 or more, ... though my 10" ASUS 1000HA wasn't, so I'd have thought it was possible to give us a better contrast ratio display on this 11.6" model as well.
So 3 stars for the black levels and contrast ratio but *6 stars* for the horizontal viewing angle, excellent, sharp resolution, vivid colors and a lid that can lay back nearly flat: so in total, I give it 4 stars.
KEYBOARD: (5 stars out of 5)
It features full-sized chicklet-style or island-style keys and spacing -- though "full-sized" only applies to the QWERTY keys, not the F-keys or arrows. It has a very short key travel, if that matters to you. I'm a hunt-n-peck basher so I'm fine with this. Feels solid with no flex anywhere. To me, there's little to no give at all in this keyboard. The keys are also quiet when typing.
POWER MANAGEMENT: (3 stars out of 5)
A complaint: Coming from an ASUS 10" and 13" with hotkeys to toggle power management, I miss that on the Acer. The user has to do it through the lower-right battery icon and accessing "Power Options" to see all three power schemes (the Win 7 default is to only see 2 power options at a time). A power-scheme hotkey keyboard option would have been nice and not difficult to do, IMO. 2 stars off for Acer's laziness in this area.
KEYBOARD HOTKEYS & ONSCREEN SYMBOLS/BARS: (4 stars out of 5)
Also, is it that expensive to include a Caps-Lock light on or near the Caps-Lock key? To be fair, the little 10" ASUS doesn't have it either but the 10" MSI Wind did. What the 756 *does* give is a momentary pop-up symbol to show you that the Caps-Lock is on (like they do with volume and wireless). So the pop-up symbol hotkey icons are pretty good.
IMO, what's missing is:
* a hotkey for power scheme toggling
* a hotkey symbol and bar for the brightness (the hotkey is there, but shows *nothing* on screen)
* a Caps-Lock light
TOUCHPAD: (4 stars out of 5)
I'm trying to like this touchpad even after two weeks. The non-button idea, like on the Mac, is great. The surface is clean and easy to feel. The touchpad's-lower-edges-are-the-trackpad-yet-mouse-buttons is a nice touch, but does take some getting used to for me. There are a lot of gestures available in the ELAN Smartpad setup. But no matter what I do, I can't seem to stop it randomly selecting things or deleting text or selecting an item when I was sure my finger was only hovering over the touch surface. I suspect the problem is me, yet when I use a Mac with its glass-topped touchpad and no mouse button, I never have this problem. Again, to me, Macs are the gold standard in this area.
I've turned off nearly all of the gestures and reduced the sensitivity to as low as I can, and still I have the problem. Perhaps this will change with time and training my hands, ... or maybe I just need to start using my wireless mouse.
Whatever it is, it is giving me the most problems of any touchpad I've ever owned. Still there are a lot of things to like about this touchpad, if only I could fix this item or train myself better.
UPDATE (15 Aug, 2012): My trackpad is doing better, which shows my trackpad complaints are really my settings and use issues, not the trackpad itself. So it now gets 4 star. As I get accustomed to it, I'm having less problems.
I'm still unsure which way to set the "Sensitivity" or "Palm Tracking" settings. I had them one way but then put them to low settings which may have helped as well.
HDD: (5 stars out of 5)
Mine came with the 7mm 500GB 5400rpm Hitachi single-platter Z5K500. It feels quite fast and is *very* quiet. 5 stars for this quality, quiet, thin & responsive HDD.
HEAT MANAGEMENT & FAN NOISE: (5 stars out of 5)
Using it for hours and watching Hulu, it gets a little warm on the bottom but not hot. *Very* nice! The fan seems to be whisper quiet (unlike my ASUS 10" & 13"). I'm super-impressed with the quietness of the fan under normal and streaming use.
UPDATE: I've now noticed that while streaming videos via Hulu, my AO756's bottom really does get pretty warm. This could be due to sitting on my lap, but I'm not covering the exit vent at all. Still, to be fair to it, once the movie ends and I stop streaming, the unit's bottom cools down pretty quickly, so to me, heat is still *not* a big concern or issue. It's score goes down from an impressive 6 stars to an excellent 5 stars.
HD WEBCAM: (Wow. 7 stars out of 5)
Again, -- wow. What an excellent image! This webcam can be set to 1280x720. Fantastic webcam. The latest MBP has a 720p webcam so this one is as good at 1/4th the price. My ASUS 10" is good as well at 1.3MP (after it, ASUS began to put only 0.3MP in all of their webcams), but this AO756 is *much* better. I'm impressed!
BATTERY: (4 stars out of 5)
It comes with a 4-cell, 2400 mAh li-ion battery. I'd have preferred a 6-cell battery, but I think they were going for a thinner profile and lighter weight. So it is a toss-up. Hard to have it both ways.
Doing normal work while online (no videos), I can easily get 4 hrs. If I turn off the wireless and just do things like Quicken accounts or Word documents (no music), Passmark's BatteryMon reports I can get close to 5 hrs.
That's still a short battery life for those of us accustomed to ASUS netbooks' 7-10 hr battery life. So for those who need more, Acer offers an extra 4-cell battery for only $39+$10 shipping direct from the Acer Store (ships to US or Canada). The battery only weighs 6.7 oz so is fairly light to carry as a backup power source. Here's the link (if it stays):
This gives me a total of at least 8 hrs of computing away from a wall outlet.
SOUND: (2 stars out of 5)
Ugh. Boy, are these speakers weak and tinny; *much* weaker than found on my 10" ASUS 1000HA.
Tip: But I did discover that I could boost the sound considerably if I clicked on the volume icon in the lower right, then the picture of the speaker and then the tab "Enhancements" and then tick "Loudness Equalization" and "OK". Still, I prefer using earbuds when streaming a movie or else plug in my Logitech Z305 speaker bar.
LID COVER: (4 stars out of 5)
The lid is much *too* glossy to me (as is the screen bezel) and shows every finger-print or oil smudge and will likely show the tinniest blemish or scratch. So I'll need to be careful with it or find a skin to fit it. (I'm not TGG, so I can't make my own!!) Classy-looking, but a fragile finish to me. 3 stars for the over-gloss. Yet, the lid, once opened, lays back at a nearly 170-degree angle! Almost flat! Again, I'm impressed. Good job, Acer. So 5 stars on the open-to-almost-flat angle.
VALUE:(7 stars out of 5)
At least one retailer had the 2GB/320GB model on sale for $250. Most places, it's $280. Who else has this much punch for so little cash? So for the money, I'd be hard-pressed at this time to find another 11.6" netbook to offer as much as this unit gives me for $300.
CONCLUSION: (Out of a possible 5 stars)
To recap, here again are the area scores:
* WEI SCORE: 5 stars
* DESIGN: 6 stars
* PROCESSOR: 6 stars
* RAM: 5 stars
* WIRELESS CARD: 5 stars
* DISPLAY: 4 stars
* KEYBOARD: 5 stars
* POWER MANAGEMENT: 3 stars
* KEYBOARD HOTKEYS & ONSCREEN SYMBOLS/BARS: 4 stars
* TOUCHPAD: 4 stars
* HDD: 5 stars
* HEAT MANAGEMENT & FAN NOISE: 5 stars
* HD WEBCAM: 7 stars
* BATTERY: 4 stars
* SOUND: 2 stars
* LID COVER: 4 stars
* VALUE: 7 stars
TOTAL: 4.8 stars
Amazing. Using it beside my 13" ASUS U30Jc with an i3-350M 2.27GHz processor and a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive, the 756's Celeron 877 processor consistently opens programs faster than the ASUS' i3-350M. How? I don't know. It is very responsive and a joy to use.
I'm torn. I want to give it 5 stars, but due to the washed-out greys in the lower third of the display and my touchpad issues, I'm going to settle for 4.5 stars.
... But I'm being too hard on this little netbook. At this price, if it can even remotely give ultrabooks and the Macbook Air a run for their money, that's really impressive.
Like I said, some retail places carry the 2GB/320GB model at a much-discounted price of $249, so shop around before you buy!
... What are you waiting for? Stop reading this review and go order one. You know you want to! ;)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
I think the big thing people have to realize about netbooks is that they will never be speed or power demons. They are not a replacement for a desktop or a full size laptop. I have several customers that had 10" Asus or Dell netbooks and they served them well, but it was time to upgrade. I think the difference I like with this model is an addition to an 11.6" screen (about 20% bigger than a 10" screen), it also has a Pentium dual core processor and 4GB of RAM, so you gain some of that horsepower you lose with the standard Atom processor in most netbooks.
* Larger screen than older traditional netbooks gives you a higher resolution view and task windows are no longer cutoff on the top or bottom
* Pentium vs. Atom processor makes a huge difference. I'll give up some battery for the extra processing power.
* 4GB of RAM. Most netbooks came with 1 or 2GB of RAM at most and aren't upgradeable. 4GB is about a minimum I spec for computer anymore, so this is a nice bonus for a netbook.
* Weighs only about 3 pounds and is very thin. It may be a bit bigger than my old 10" netbook, but not that much and it is much thinner and lighter. I'll take that trade as well.
* Windows 7 64-bit - Can take full advantage of all 4GB
* 500GB hard drive - nice to have tons of storage. I doubt many will use that much drive space unless you were downloading movies to take on the road. Thinking about upgrading mine to an SSD drive to see if that helps with battery and speed, but it may not be justified when I have less than $400 in these. Unless I really needed that extra bit of battery life or that marginal amount of speed, it's probably not worth the time and cost to upgrade. I would have spent $1000 and gotten a Ultrabook, which is in a different class of laptop.
* Come with Office 2010 Starter. Enough for most people on the road or as a secondary computer. So, the price includes a basic Office suite and it is your choice to upgrade or not.
* Yes, battery is not as good as my old netbook, which could run several days using it off and on and still have several hours of battery left. I might get 4-5 hours on a charge using it continously, but I still get a full day or two out of it using it off and on as I visit customers. I think if I can get through a normal full day and still have a charge left, then it doesn't really matter. I tend to charge both of them each night anyway. So, not really a con to me, but just throwing it out there of you are a hard core user and need a full days use. I think there is some offset with the additional speead I gain over my old one, so it also doesn't have to run as long to accomplish the same tasks.
I think the 11.6" screen is a great improvement to netbooks. It gives me more real estate to work with and is still small enough to throw in a netbook sleeve and carry into an office with my portfolio. I like the Pentium processor over the Atom and having a full 4GB of RAM. The nice thing about netbooks is you have a choice. I purchased the same Acer with an Atom processor for another customer so they can have something when they go out of town on the weekends and he is just as happy. Not a power user, doesn't care, but liked to have the extra battery so he doesn't have to carry his charger with him. If you don't have a need to spend $600+ on a decent full size laptop, then I think this is the ticket. Small, fast, enough battery to get you through the day and you can't beat the price.