Since I last reviewed netbooks, the number of new choices and models has increased 10-fold while the price has decreased on average $100-$150. Surprisingly, technology and performance have remained roughly the same. The Aspire ZA3 is based on the Z520 Processor, one of Intel’s newest, low-wattage CPU’s made specifically for small form factor PCs.
What to Like about the Acer Aspire One Netbook
- Battery Life
- 11.6″ Screen
- HD 1366-768 Resolution Screen
- 160GB Hard Drive
- Full-Size Key keyboard
- Build Quality
- Thin, Sleek, Great Looks
- Sub-$300 Price Tag
- Web Cam
What Not to Like
- Windows XP Home OS
- Slow Processing Speed
- Low, 1GB Memory
- Installed Junk Software and Bloatware
Details, Specifications and Performance of the Acer Aspire One Netbook
The ZA3 Aspire One Model was equipped from Costco with a Z520 1.33 Processor, 3-Cell, 6-hour Battery, 160GB Hard Drive, Web-Cam and Windows XP Home. Also included was a 60 day trial of Office Home and Student and a permanent version of Microsoft Works. Out of the box, the Aspire one looks and feels great. The full sized keys on the keyboard are a real asset for a netbook this size, and they feel good and solid when you press them. Unfortunately, the excitement turns into the need for plenty of patients as you wait for Windows XP Home to boot up and go through the initial user-setup for the first time. The Atom 1.33 Z520 Processor is one of Intel’s newer, energy-saving, portable processors. While I appreciate the longer battery life, the speed doesn’t seem to be quite as good as the 1.6 used in the first generation of netbook CPUs. To make matters worse, Acer has preloaded the netbook with a bunch of worthless bloatware in the form of McAfee Virus Scanners and games. No way should a netbook be forced to use a processor, task-intensive virus scanner like McAfee. To further test my patience, Windows XP Updates and McAfee began running at the same time, which brought the poor Aspire One Netbook to its knees. I could not complete a single task until the updates were done. As soon as they were, I uninstalled McAfee, then downloaded and installed my favorite, free AVG Anti Virus. I also removed the 60-Day Office trial and all of the unneeded games. The result was the difference between night and day. The Aspire One Netbook actually became a usable computer and I was able to boot and surf the web much faster. Still, doubling the RAM would really help. Unfortunately, there is only one RAM slot, so the 1GB chip will have to be removed and thrown away, in place of the 2GB one I plan on purchasing for it. Once the unneeded software is removed, the Aspire One provides adequate performance as long as you are not
I am not a fan of XP Home or really any of the Windows-Based OS’s on these netbooks. Having owned an i-Phone, I’ve grown to really appreciate the simplicity of it’s icon-launched interface. A Netbook would be well suited for the same type of Operating System. Putting a bunch of programs on a Netbook cripples the performance and greatly diminishes the reason for owning one. The purpose of an ultra mobile computer is to allow you to be productive on the go, not to replace your more powerful laptop or desktop PC. At the very least, maybe manufacturers like Acer should start encouraging software developers to produce more efficient, mobile-type applications to market with their low-priced netbooks. They should be talking to the Apple I-Phone Apps programmers.
Despite any gripes and complaints, the Acer Aspire One ZA3 Netbook, offers quite a few more pluses than minuses. The larger, high definition, 1366×768 screen really stands out from others as does the look, build, quality, appearance and keyboard. The performance is sufficient once you get rid of the unneeded bloatware. Keep in mind, the Atom Z520 is a single-core processor, so it’s going to feel pretty sluggish if you are performing multiple tasks, such as running software updates at the same time you are using or installing other programs. For surfing the web, checking your email, writing letters and other simple office tasks, the Z520 will suit you just fine, especially with an additional gigabyte of memory.