Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Acer AOD270 practical -- not perfect -- choice., May 27, 2012
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This review is from: Acer Aspire One AOD270-1410 10.1-Inch Netbook (1.6GHz Intel Atom N2600 Processor, 1GB DDR3, 320GB HDD, Windows 7 Starter) Espresso Black (Personal Computers)
I chose the AOD270 because I wanted a very portable-yet-capable laptop (or netbook) at a relatively low price. Size was especially important, because I knew that I would be reluctant to bring a laptop places (like to a community college or a park) if I wasn't in the mood to lug around a 15"+ form-factor. A laptop would be no good to me if I didn't want to take it out... So, I decided that small would be OK, so long as it was capable to do Internet and office work.

I bought an aquamarine model directly from Acer's online store (cheaper at W*l-Mart, but I'm not fond of them) , at a price on par with Amazon's prices as of May 2012. My machine was manufactured in March of this year. While I haven't had it long enough to comment on longevity, I felt like it would be helpful to offer my thoughts for others considering the purchase.

I've found that the netbook is both disappointing and satisfying. It's as small as I would like it to be, and the performance is what I expected for a 1.6GHz machine with 1GB of RAM (I think I will upgrade to 2GB RAM after the limited warranty has expired). No, it's not blazing fast, to be sure; but, then, I recently upgraded my desktop PC, and I didn't want/need a laptop that would rival or upstage it (3.3 GHz triple-core, 4 GB RAM). I performed the included Acer eRecovery initial backup, Windows-updated the included Windows 7 Starter, resized/partitioned the drive (created separate NTFS partition for data), and installed Ubuntu 12.04 (using a bootable USB flash drive).
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As for the disappointment:

-While everything's been working well, I've learned there's an annoying support gap for Linux from Intel. The particular Intel graphics chipset in this netbook evidently means that certain features don't work for Ubuntu (like keyboard-controlled screen dimming, full Unity 3D support, and more relatively minor things). EDIT, 20120918: The most recent updates to Ubuntu 12.04 have brought more support for this hardware. Additional "Cedar Trail" drivers are available, and the function-key controlled brightness shortcuts now work! Dimming has boosted the battery estimates closer to 7 hours.

-It's small. (I know, that's why I bought it. It's a pro and a con.) It'll take getting used to typing fast on its keyboard. (I do have the option of using a USB full-size keyboard if I ever need to type with the regular feel.)

-I'd have liked a hard drive activity light. It's a minor quibble, since I can see activity using software. It'd also have been nice to have Caps/Num/Scroll Lock indicator lights.

-The package doesn't come with recovery media -- you've got to make it with included software. It's inconvenient if you haven't got an external dual-layer DVD burner.

-There's limited upgrade options: memory, and maybe battery. Memory upgrade isn't straightforward for casual users. (I knew all this beforehand, but I still consider it a con.)
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As for satisfaction:

-The performance is good for a low-priced netbook (I wouldn't advise paying more than 300, brand new with warranty). I can play smooth YouTube videos, and multi-tasking happens at an acceptable speed (I'm accustomed to how a 1.6 GHz machine performs. Users accustomed to faster computers may be disappointed easily. Often certain actions occur quite slowly.) I've been using a wired Internet connection, so I can't comment on the built-in wireless.

-It works good with Ubuntu 12.04 (which I'm using to write this review), and I am satisfied with the Windows 7 Starter (I use XP SP3 on my desktop) after performance tweaks. I probably won't upgrade from Starter, but I've installed LibreOffice and other
programs I'm accustomed to, and it works as well as I expect from Windows.

-I use it with a Bamboo Pen tablet, and they're the same size, so it's a great portable pairing. It's nice that there's 3 USB ports. I also like the separate mic and headphone jacks.

-It's small. Like a modestly-sized hardcover book, I feel like I'd be comfortable carrying it any place I'd carry such a book.

-I think it fits the bill for portability and functionality at a reasonable price. I know I could've got a faster, fancier laptop for not much more, but it would have been too big for what I had in mind, and I would ultimately be paying for more than I wanted/needed.
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If I was made of money, I'd have bought this along with a great full-size laptop. But, since I'm on a budget, I'm satisfied that I largely got what I was looking for. If I had it to do again, I may have searched for something a little bigger and faster, but I've got no plans to return what I have now. I'll update this review if there are any developments worth reporting.

Happy hunting.
****************
28 Jan 2012 Update:
I decided to go ahead and upgrade the RAM to 2GB before the limited warranty expired. I didn't really want to compromise the warranty, but I think the computer will probably be OK, and I figure I can find parts relatively easily if necessary. All that has concerned me is a little periodic noise from the hard drive (SMART data checks out, though), and the constantly-running fan (which seems to be normal). I've posted a little review on Amazon's product page Crucial CT25664BC1067 2GB 204-PIN PC3-8500 SODIMM DDR3 Memory Module, and I've uploaded a brief guide on this netbook's Customer Image Gallery. I recommend the upgrade, in spite of the hassle of disassembling the computer (and I wouldn't advise paying more than 14-15 bucks for the RAM).

I've been experiencing a bit of buyer's remorse about not getting the AO722 (11.6") model, because it can be found at a similar or lower price, but it's complicated. What appeals to me: higher resolution, greater screen size, full-size keyboard, improved graphics processing, greater memory/upgrade potential (easier, too), and full Windows 7 version (can't even change wallpaper in Starter? Give me a break, Microsoft). What worries me: seems less widespread than the AOD270, which may make parts harder to come by in the future; reportedly some frustrating driver issues with Ubuntu/Linux (though the 270 isn't perfect); less battery life (though not wildly less, I'd rather have a 10.1" screen I can use than a 11.6" screen over a dead battery); and a seemingly higher percentage of failures (HDD failure seems to be a primary issue). In spite of slight pangs of regret, I don't plan to give up my 270 because it isn't bad, it largely does what I want it to do, and it's a highly-portable size that I want it to be. You may find that the AO722 is more to your liking (you might also spend more time researching if Acer or other companies have other or soon-to-be-released models you would prefer).

I will suggest that, in addition to Amazon, you check out prices at Acer's official eBay [outlet] store. I didn't learn of it until after my purchase from Acer's standard web store, but I've found it to have some pretty good prices, and I would feel more confident buying a refurbished PC from Acer direct than from a 3rd party, or a used PC for which I can't be sure if it has been abused.

Feel free to reply with questions.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 21, 2012 6:50:59 PM PDT
B. Veilleux says:
Great review overall, and I'm particularly glad to hear it works with the Bamboo Pen as I use that for ergonomy. Cheers!

Posted on Dec 29, 2012 1:07:40 PM PST
M. Shi says:
Hi, do you still hear noise from the fan and the hard drive? How loud is it? Seen you have bought the netbook for more than half a year now. I would use it in a library or quiet places a lot and hope this one would be quiet enough after some time of use.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2012 11:03:35 AM PST
Walker says:
Yes -- I think the fan and HDD noise is about the same as when I wrote the review. It's not bad, though. I just tried it about an hour ago, to give you an accurate assessment: upon startup (Ubuntu 12.04), it's whisper quiet; once it gets working/processing hard, the fan amps up, and it's akin to the sound of [taking a deep breath and] blowing so your lungs empty in about 8-10 seconds (very rough estimate). It might be annoying in a library if it's pin-drop quiet and someone's trying to read a book a few feet away... but, again, I don't believe it's so bad. Any typing you'd do would probably be more annoying to patrons than the fan noise.

I have never been apprehensive about bringing it to class or a study lounge because of the fan noise. As for the computer itself, having had it for the better part of a year, I like the functionality and portability and battery life, I dislike the low resolution and relatively slow speed (and Windows 7 Starter is still lame in many ways). I always have my eye out for a better netbook/notebook, but I'm still holding onto this one because the pros still outweigh the cons.
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