Acer Aspire One on Woot, grab your first netbook

I purchased one of these tiny Acer Aspire One netbooks overseas and would highly recommend it – if you’re up for some easy low cost upgrades. I added the bit about upgrading it because who is ever content with a standard configuration machine? If you head on over to Woot, the tiny netbook is on sale for $289. Check out the discussion on the Woot boards here.

I’ll be honest and say that the 8 GB SSD, 512 MB RAM, 3-cell battery configuration on sale is nothing to brag about. But $50-$60 on eBay will score you a nice 1.8″ HDD and extra ram to bump the performance up. Replace the Linpus OS for Ubuntu or OS X (if you have access to an external DVD-ROM drive) and then you have something to brag about.

Do you already have a netbook? Are you living in the "cloud" with an Acer, Asus, HP, or something else?

Discuss - 16 Comments

  1. Lee says:

    Yeh I bought the basic entry level Linpus Aspire One and although it works great on 8GB SSD the OS just wasnt to my taste. The front screen is a little too childish and the back end was way to Windowsy for my taste.

    So I opened it up and followed a few tutorials on the http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/index.php forum and video tutorials by Tnkgrl http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/ and bobs your aunties live-in lover, Ive got a MacBook Nano ;) . Its got 1.5gb RAM & a 30GB Toshiba HD and runs Leopard like a dream. It starts up in about 50 seconds and although I havent run any memory or processor intensive things for any length Im positive it would handle some light Photoshop or iPlayer streaming without any problems. As for music it works totally fine and although the speaker isnt the best for what Ive paid Im overjoyed.

    There are a few issues though with installing another OS. With OSX the Wifi wont work with the installed Wifi card so buying a Dell 1390 ( about £6) and swapping that out has sorted that problem as Leopard immediatly sees the card and your online. The other issues are the SD Card slot dont respond but Leopard is aware they are there and there are people working on trying to get that functionality up and running. USB is fine so that allows all the usual and to add a little bluetooth dongle (under £5). Sleep doesnt work but as before thats being worked on but installing INSOMNIAX http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/30315 allows you to close the lid and the machine not enter sleep but turns the screen off. (This obviously isnt perfect as the battery is still being used but its a good stop gap).
    The last issue is the sound. There are some issues that seem to stop the mic from working but with a headphone set you can use skype etc (or whatever) to conduct your audio calls.

    So as I say theres a few things that may sway someone away from this but in my experience having the oppurtunity to use OSX on a netbook is worth paying the price of not having the SD Card slots work etc. Also if you change your mind and want to go back to LInpus the restore disc is there and your back where you started but with improved hardware.

  2. Greg says:

    The link to the Amazon site is broken!!!!!!! (Just a heads up :) )
    Greg

  3. JHS says:

    I’m writing this comment on my Acer Aspire from my hotel room in San Diego. It has a 120 GB hard drive and 1 GB ram. It is lightweight and always in my purse, not to mention fast and efficient. I initially bought a Dell Mini 9 with only 16 GB hard drive and the Ubuntu OS. (shiver) Hated it. Sent it back and got the Acer with Windows XP for $348 and absolutely adore it.

  4. Derek says:

    Lee, thanks for the tip concerning Insomniax. The sleep issue was the main reason why I wiped the drive and went back to Ubuntu. I might have to track someone down again for an external drive so I can re-install Leopard.

    Greg, link fixed :) You know, just in case people want to shop around on Amazon.

    JHS, I almost went from the Aspire One to the Mini 9… Almost. Aesthetically I think the One has more value than the Dell.

  5. Lee says:

    No problem Derek. That Aspire forum is a goldmine as is InsanelyMac if you’ re looking for stuff.
    I tried to have a dual install of Ubuntu-eee and Leopard but they use a different loader (?) darwin for OSX as you know and apparently something called Grub for Ubuntu. I was a bit out my depth at this point but I followed the tutorial to make the aspire see the OSX partition Id set up and if I chose OSX at start up it used Darwin and not Grub. Needless to say I failed but loads have had success with dual and triple OS’s so its all available.

    Derek, did you get Ubuntu working on it with all the ports usuable? Yeh I initailly installed Leopard on the 8GB SSD but it started really slowly and was a frustration seeing as I couldnt put it to sleep.

    I agree I like the Dell Mini but the Aspire (certainly in the white) pushes many of my Mac buttons aesthetically.

  6. Derek says:

    Lee, I followed the guide here for Ubuntu on the One: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AspireOne That guide outlines what is working and what is not working. I’m not sure yet if I’ll try Ubuntu 8.10 yet. I imagine upgrading will require that I setup wireless again. When I close the lid running Ubuntu 8.04 the computer does go to sleep. Or maybe it’s hibernate? I just know that when I close the lid and leave the computer at home, I can come back to a battery that has lost very little charge.

  7. Lee says:

    Thanks Derek , I hadnt seen that.
    As I say its the dual boot that troubled me the most though. Im so immersed in OS X that to use anything else feels like a backward step. (Now before I upset anyone with that I realise thats not a FACT its just what Im used to.)
    Even the lauded Linux feels far more Windowsy than I was expecting.

    Never the less Id love to get it up and running so I can use all aspects of the Aspire One as and when I needed and then swap back to OS X. Ill see how brave Im feeling and try to dual boot again. Its such a shame that bootcamp doesnt work or parallels etc. Its very tempting with the Sleep possibilities aswell.

  8. Derek says:

    What is the battery life looking like with Leopard loaded? I still haven’t decided if I’ll go back. Even now with Ubuntu I am considering going back to Linpus for the simple fact that battery life is dismal at best right now. Linpus was made just for the One so there is no surprise it squeezes the most time out of the battery than any other OS.

  9. Lee says:

    Im still getting about 2 and a half hours. Its a little erratic and can jump ten minutes either way depending on what I dont know. I installed SpeedStep when I installed leopard so it constantly monitors the CPU in the menu bar and I think this helps lower the battery drain.

    I agree that Linpus is bound to be the best bet for battery life as it was designed (or rather tailored) with the machine in mind.

    Ive seen bigger batteries for the Acer which whilst upsetting the aesthetic slightly could be an option
    (this is a 9 cell!) http://superetrader.co.uk/extended-battery-for-acer-aspire-one-white-zg5-um08a73-6600mah-p-3629.html also (although this is the blue one Im sure there is a white http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001FRPUES?ie=UTF8&tag=justcdr-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B001FRPUES

    Heres the thread I got the info from

    http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=4708&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=superetrader

  10. Derek: I have an Acer Aspire for two years now, they’re great machines, the Synaptics touchpad is damn gorgeous, way better than Dell touchpads, you can even use then for vectorial works, they’re strong and it’s hard to break the hardware inside, but they have a big problem: batteries are damn low. That’s why I got myself a Vostro. This and the dual-core processor, more RAM and stuff, but none of these matter when you’re far from a power source.

    It’s the battery I hate on Acer. My Aspire’s battery (4 cells) used in the first couple of months to last about two and a half hours. After a year, the battery went to 1h 15 mins. Two years later, the same battery lasts about 35 to 40 minutes. That’s ugly.

    I guess in the end you choose what suits you better: the hardware config or the battery life? I went for battery, that’s why I got myself the Dell.

  11. Jon Soroko says:

    Bought the same model two weeks ago because I’d had hand surgery, Needed a light portable machine with enough available RAM to runDragon Nat’lly speaking v 10.I like it more than I’d expected – including the built-in mike.

    The wireless card gave up within days – and since I’m on deadline, and J&R (big nyc retailer where I bought) doesn’t do on-sight ACER service, I added a Linksys external WiFi card. (Now if I could only make Dragon work right).

  12. Derek says:

    Jon, rather than using the external USB wifi stick OR going to Acer for hardware support, I recommend $10-$12 for a Dell 1390 card off of eBay. A little more flexibility when and if you decide to explore other OS’s.

  13. So overall you like the Aspire One? I’ve been seeing more and more netbooks/eees etc on campus and figured I might try to see what all the fuss is about. I already have a 3lb notebook (Air) so part of me thinks it wouldn’t be any different, but the netbook form factor makes a big diff.

  14. Derek says:

    Overall a fan of the AAO. I have to admit though, if I had not purchased this over the summer, I probably would have gone with the MSI Wind if I was going to get one today. I checked one out in person at Best Buy and the specs alone top the AAO. $350 will get you 1GB RAM, 120GB HDD, and Bluetooth. Not to mention, Leopard seems to have a leg up on the AAO with full sleep support. My Acer crashes if I let it sleep.

  15. Geofrey says:

    I’m a newbie, I’m trying to install a OSX on my ACER Aspire One ZG5, can anybody help me such as software /hardware requirements, and instalation instruction. I really appriciate that.