Acer mini laptops have progressed a lot during these last years, the Taiwanese company becoming one of the most important computer manufacturers in the world. Aside from the regular notebooks, which are currently one of the best-selling products in their classes, Acer caught the attention of computer enthusiasts with its line of ultraportable and strong netbooks, not necessarily by offering the best products in the class, but more with their excellent pricing policy, lately backed up by better and better build quality and features.
The latest addition to this line of mini laptops is the Aspire One D257, a netbook which packs some pretty impressive technical specifications, while remaining portable, elegant and affordable. In the following lines we will review the AOD257 and tell you all there is to know about it. The tested version is the one available in stores in Europe and there are some minor details from what you might get in your country, but more about these in the post.
First of all, let’s take a look on the product’s technical specifications:
- 10.1-inch display with 1024 x 600 pixels resolution and glossy finish
- 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N570 CPU
- 2 GB of DDR3 RAM
- 2.5-inch HDD, 320 GB, 5400 rpm
- Wireless N, Fast Ethernet
- 3 USB 2.0 ports, VGA, microphone and headphones, card reader, webcam 0.3 MPx
- 6 cell 47 Wh battery
- Linpus Plus Meego OS
- dimensions 7.3 X 10.2 X 1 inches
- product weight 2.6 pounds
So pretty standard, except for two things: it comes with 2 GB of memory by default and Linpus Plus Meego OS. The two are actually related, as most 10 inchers only offer 1 GB of RAM only because that’s how much you can get on Windows 7 Starter device in stores (you can however later upgrade it to 2 GB), because of Microsoft’s restrictions and regulations.
You should know however that in your country the Aspire One D257 might be sold with Windows 7 Starter, only 1 GB of RAM and probably a smaller 250 GB hard-drive, which puts in pretty much on par with all the other 10 inchers in terms of specs and features.
Design and exterior
One of the things Acer managed to do with its line of netbooks is to offer compact, thin and sleek devices, while featuring pretty good performances as well. That is the case of the AOD257 also, a netbook that measures only 1 inch in depth and weighs 2.6 pounds (with a 6 cell battery included), which is pretty good even for a 10-inch mini laptop.
As far as the actual design goes, the lid cover features a unique water ripples pattern that is bound to turn some heads. On the flip side though, the glossy finish remains a problem, the case being the perfect magnet for fingerprints, scratches and dust, especially on this Black version. So if you want a D257, I do suggest going for one of the other color options available (there are a few lively ones).
The sides and the bottom suffered a minor redesign from the previous versions of Acer 10 inchers. On the sides that ports have been rearranged and on the back we get more cooling vents.
Opening the lid you’ll encounter a slightly redesigned palm-rest, which is now matte and rounder on the edges.
The video review will tell you more about this little fellow.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Aspire One’s keyboard is for generations the same and is bound to annoy once again. That is because the keys, which are pretty well sized, are not ideally spaced and are completely flat, making typing accuracy a bit of the problem at first. On the other hand, the keyboard is pretty comfortable once you get used to it, and that almost makes up for the spacing problem.
As far as the trackpad is concerned, this has changed from the old Aspire One models and is now better individualized from the palm-rest area and pretty comfortable to use. However, the trackpad, which is placed a little under the palm-rest’s height level, is again not perfect when it comes to accuracy and goes a bit crazy from time to time. Also, Acer placed the click button on the lower edge of the laptop, so it’s quite easy now to press this one by mistake when using it in bed or on the sofa and leaning it to you belly.
The Aspire One D257 features a 10.1-inch screen with 1024 x 600 pixels resolution, which is pretty standard for a 10-inch netbook right now. The viewing angles are not bad, but the glossy finish will make it pretty difficult to use when in contact with direct sunlight or other strong light sources.
On the other hand, the bezel around the screen is thinner than what you get on other 10 inchers and the display itself can lean back to almost 150 degrees on the back, which is most useful on a portable device like this one.
Hardware, software and performance
The new Acer product comes with the most powerful hardware platform Intel has on netbooks so far, featuring a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570 processor, GMA 3150 graphics, 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard-drive. So we got the fastest Atom based processor for 10 inchers and 2 GB of memory by default, which is something you don’t get on devices bundled with Windows 7 Starter.
Cause indeed, Acer’s new netbook comes with the Linpus Plus Meego operating system and not Microsoft’s system. This is a light and cheap (free?) operating system meant for low-power computers like this one, but it is still in a development stage and will surprise you with some very annoying glitches. One of these regards the audio and video application, which in short… does not work. The codecs that should allow you to run audio and video content on this app are missing and installing them is… well, pretty much impossible, as far as we have managed to find out (see the review for more details). And yes, I’m not a Linux user, but I guess many of you aren’t either and don’t want to have to go to “the Console” in order to make things run smoothly on your laptop, right?
I’m not saying that Linpus Meego is not an operating system with potential and some qualities (it turns on and off pretty fast and adds to the battery life), but in our opinion, it’s better suited for a secondary light OS next to Windows and not as the primary OS, especially with its problems and glitches.
But you can always install Windows on the netbook and save some trouble… Not to mention that on most countries I’ve seen the Aspire One D257 offered with Windows 7 Starter and only 1 GB of memory by default, like all the other netbooks are.
The 6 cell 47 Wh battery featured by Acer’s new netbook should offer an autonomy of about eight hours, if we are to believe the producers’ official statements. However, giving that we know better than that, we tested the battery and we came up with an autonomy of about 6, 6 and a half hours on a daily average use, while running Meego.
This will probably decrease towards 5-6 hours if you install Windows on the netbook, which makes the AOD257 decent, but not impressive compared to other 10-inchers right now. For example, the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM is capable of lasting around ten hours on a single charge, while the Samsung NF310 offers a battery life of up to seven hours.
Heat and noise levels
I’m not sure if this has anything to do with Meego and improper drivers, but Acer’s new netbook has some heating and noise problems. At least the version we tested did. Even playing an YouTube 10-minute HD video clip makes the mini laptop annoyingly noisy and hot enough on its bottom to become uncomfortable to hold on your knees, which is something we don’t want on any machine, but especially not on a netbook that should be comfortable to use while on the go.
While this is a serious problem, we are almost sure that it has something to do with the same old operating system and the lack of some drivers to control the processor’s cooling. We are not positive, however, and there is no way to be positive unless you install Windows and compare the differences. So if any of you guys actually have a Windows 7 Starter D257 around, I’d love to hear your feedback on temperatures and noise.
Pricing and availability
The Acer laptops, while not being the fastest, the strongest or the most reliable on the computer market, have always impressed with their excellent quality/price ratio. The AOD257 is not an exception from this rule, being highly competitive in terms of pricing.
You can find the AOD257 10-inch netbook online for about 289.99 dollars (but that’s the Windows 7 version, with 1 GB of memory and 250 GB HDD), available in aquamarine, white, black or burgundy red. The 3 Cell battery version goes for around 20 bucks less.
That’s a tad cheaper than its most important competitors, as the Asus EEE PC 1015PX, available for $299.99 (here’s our review for this one), or the Samsung NC110, (selling for some extra 25 bucks), both running on a similar configuration.
However, the strongest competitor for Acer’s new netbook could prove to be its kin, the Aspire One Happy 2, which is in fact identical to the D257 in every aspect and comes with a smaller 4 hour rated battery, starting at $259 bucks. That’s 40 dollars less than the laptop we tested here and is available in yellow, pink, light blue and orange.
While it can’t be called a perfect device, having some faults and weak points, the number of strong points overwhelms these and make the AOD257 a possible best-seller in our opinion. The netbook packs a strong hardware configuration for a device of its size, features a very original and good-looking design and also comes at a pretty competitive price.
On the other hand, we can’t completely overlook the minor problems, as the glossy finish, glossy display or the not-really-ideal keyboard and trackpad. Or, in our case, the glitchy OS, but like I said, for most of you this should not really be a problem, as Acer decided to bundle the D257 with Windows 7 Starter on most markets.
In the end, you’ll just have to ask yourself what do you value more: the cheap price tag and sleek looking body, or extra battery life, matte screen and maybe better keyboard. If you’re into the first options, the D257 Aspire One and also the Happy 2 lines can be your ideal picks. Otherwise, check out some of the other entries in our list of recommend 10 inch netbooks of the moment.