Acer Aspire's One D250 unveils Android OS and 7 hr battery life, but performance remains below par

Acer Aspire's One D250 unveils Android OS and 7 hr battery life, but performance remains below par

The first time we laid our hands on Acer's Aspire One D250, we were quietly impressed. A slimline netbook with some nice design touches, it was only the stiff competition that left it floundering.

Now, however, the D250 can lay claim to one feat none of its competitors can match. Not only does it have Windows 7 Starter Edition installed, it's also the first netbook to feature Google's much-vaunted Android OS.

Indeed, while neither the D250's figure nor its specifications are liable to excite uncontrollable lust, the presence of Android raises its appeal above the average netbook.

First impressions are good, with Android booting up in just 15 seconds, and it also looks far neater than any "instant-on" OS we've seen before. Alas, anyone who's had the chance to meet Android on a smartphone should prepare for disappointment.

Spend just a few minutes with the D250 and it's clear Android wasn't built with a touchpad and keyboard in mind. The inclusion of both Android's WebKit-based browser and the more recognisable Mozilla Firefox seems to admit as much.
Where Android's browser makes sense on a smartphone's touchscreen, it just doesn't translate here.

The process of clicking and holding the left mouse button, while pushing up to scroll the page down, seems clunky and counter-intuitive, and the lack of Flash support soon left us running back to Firefox's familiar embrace.

Even that Android-friendly incarnation of Firefox is less than stellar. It does at least support Flash, allowing you to catch up with the latest additions to iPlayer or YouTube, but jerky, unwatchable playback spoils the show.

That would be disappointing enough, but then there's the conspicuous lack of the Android Market. There's an option in the settings to allow software to be installed but, frustratingly, no way of instantly buying any applications.

It's an omission that curtails Android's aspirations. Checking email and perusing websites is possible, as is using Google Apps, and while there are music and photo apps, these come as little recompense, since they're clunky and unsophisticated.

It's a shame to admit it, but for most users it won't be long before the temptation to switch to Windows 7 kicks in - a task, thankfully, made easy by the shortcut on Android's home screen.

The burning question, though, is why anyone would opt against booting into Windows 7 in the first place. Cold booting does admittedly take about three times as long as Android - about 45 seconds or so before a usable desktop appears - but waking from hibernation takes a mere 20 seconds, just five seconds longer than Android.

Windows 7 might feel a touch more sluggish than XP Home - the Acer scored just 0.30 in our benchmarks - but its refinement and ease of use come as ample reward.

Physically, little has changed. The D250's figure is as slim as ever, and our review unit came finished in a two-tone combination of gloss white and textured matte black, the hinges enlivened with a silver flourish and a lime-green Aspire logo.

We still haven't warmed to its looks, though: for all Acer's efforts it still looks a touch plain next to the likes of Samsung's N110.

As for build quality, the D250's slim base is impressively stiff, but both the lid and the hinges feel too flexible and insubstantial to truly inspire confidence.

It has put on a few grams and now weighs in at 1.24kg, thanks to the six-cell battery jutting out at its rear. That battery is a welcome sight, however, keeping the D250 going for 7hrs 57mins.

Ergonomically, though, the Acer Aspire D250 trails the best the netbook crop has to offer. The keyboard is usable, but the light-feeling keys and small trackpad aren't great.

The display also fails to excel: despite reasonable brightness and colour reproduction, it's let down by poor contrast. Only the loud, competent speakers really impress.

If the Aspire D250 was as physically accomplished as some of its competitors, the presence of Google's Android, despite its flaws, might have been a selling point.

As it stands, the novelty merely serves as a brief distraction from the D250's competent but unremarkable charms. There are better netbooks available for less.

Acer Aspire One D250
3 6
Google’s Android OS provides a disappointing distraction from an otherwise average netbook
Features & Design
Value for money
• Price: 460 • CPU model/brand: Intel Atom • CPU speed: 1.66Ghz • Memory capacity: 1GB DDR2 • Hard drive capacity: 250GB • Flash drive capacity: GMA 950 • Screen size: 10.1in • Screen resolution: 1024 x 600 • Weight: 1.2kg • Dimensions WDH: 259 x 184 x 33mm • Operating system: Android • Manufacturer: Acer • Supplier: Acer
This review appeared in the February, 2010 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

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