Aug 8, 2010

Acer Aspire One 532 Silver - Part I

Portability is one of the reasons I decided to buy a netbook - 1.25 kg is quite comfortable to carry around. Also, the signs of aging are starting show on my old Acer Aspire 5022 notebook, which I bought back in January, 2006 - its cover has cracked on one of the hinges and its hard drive is certainly not in the best shape anymore. Its battery doesn't last the three hours it used to, either. Thus it was time to get a new laptop.

Price tag was the most deciding factor (thus a netbook). Second on the wanted list were: Windows 7, long battery life, bluetooth (to communicate with my phone), and a matte screen (so I can use it outside during summer). When going through the netbook lists on Finnish webstores I noticed many of them were sold out and new ones didn't seem to be getting in. This was the case with Asus 1005PE too, which I would have bought in the first place. My guess is that everyone is preparing for Intel's new dual-core processor series, N500, and the new netbooks that will come with it.

So I ended up with the next best thing, Acer Aspire One 532 (silver). It was much cheaper than the Asus 1005PE (about 70€ less at 274.90€), though, which is very nice. It features W7 Starter, Intel Atom N450 (1.66Ghz), 1GB of RAM, 160GB HDD, a glossy 10.1" CrystalBrite (mirror) screen, a 6-cell battery (48 W 4400 mAh), and other usual stuff but no bluetooth ("manufacturing option").

The cover's color looks white/silver, depending on the viewing angle and lighting.

Look & Feel:

The 532 model has three color choices: red, blue, and silver. The red and blue models are glossy all over - their covers are glossy and so is the rest of their black surface inside - fingerprint magnets, so to speak. The silver one, however, is better on this, as its cover doesn't pick touches (or show them) nearly as bad. Rest of the inside surfaces are the same glossy material as with red and blue, but are white instead of black - fingerprints show only at certain angles. I would have preferred a silver-black color scheme, but this will do just fine.

The cover is dotted upon closer examination.

The netbook's build is sturdy, yet it's very slim, and the 6-cell battery doesn't stick out.

The keyboard is tiny as expected in a machine this size. I haven't used keys such as these before, but I got used to them fast. I think I do make slightly more typing errors, though, and there's few things I must complain about...

The Finnish (or Scandinavian?) layout.

The m-key doesn't take presses if they are done on the top corners - I have to press exactly on the center or on the bottom corners to get it register the press. This caused some trouble initially as I included an m in my password, and then couldn't login to Windows because the keyboard wasn't taking the press. I'm now more used to it but it causes me to miss m's now and then.

Other thing I very much don't like is how Home and End keys are placed in the same keys with Pg Up and Pg Dn, the former ones requiring Fn. This is bad as I use End much when coding, but I guess it's again a thing that just needs getting used to. The arrow (and Pg Up/Dn) keys are also slightly too small for my fingers. Otherwise the keyboard is fine.

Note the small arrow and Pg Up/Dn (Fn Home/End) keys.

The touchpad works almost perfectly - sometimes it lags a bit when I get my finger on it but that doesn't happen often. The surface is filled with small "dots" and thus is not even, but my fingers seem to move on it well. I also like the new multi-gestures touchpads seem to have nowadays.

A "scroll bar" on the right.

Sadly, the netbook's screen is a glossy one. In Germany, the 532 comes with a matte screen (also with a build-in 3G and a higher price tag) but not here, so using it in a very bright environment (outdoors) is bit of a pain. Indoors CrystalBrite is alright.

The 532 gets slightly warm on the left bottom side. I'd say about 40°C so not too bad, but it's bit uncomfortable if you're having the netbook in your lap. The warmth doesn't feel as bad on the top, so your hands won't get "burned", at least when just doing light stuff like coding - I haven't tried playing any games yet.

I'm going to write about the netbook's performance in use too but as this is getting quite long, I'll make it Part II.

Further watching:
Acer Aspire One 532h (blue) Unboxing and Hands On at Youtube (with a lovely accent).

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