Acer Aspire One Happy

For AU$499, the Acer Aspire One Happy is likely to make someone happy. Increasingly, though, we're seeing netbooks as too limited — we'd be much more tempted to splash out on a thin-and-light like the MacBook Air or a full-fledged budget laptop instead.


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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


At first glance, Acer's Aspire One Happy is a traditional netbook — 10.1-inch, 1024x600 screen; 250GB hard drive; 1GB RAM and the incredibly restrictive Windows 7 Starter Edition.

The vertical screen resolution is a pain, especially since 1366x768 netbooks are now floating around. It's also not as sharp as one would expect, creating blurry text on screen that seems as if it's out of focus. Adjusting ClearType helps, but never really resolves the issue.

There are a few things that stand out, apart from the fluoro red, green, blue and purple colours available. One is the dual-core Atom N550 processor, clocked at 1.5GHz. Another is the Elantech touch pad, capable of two-finger scroll. The thing that really stands out though is the pre-boot environment — the Happy, you see, comes pre-packed with Android.

Our thoughts on Android for the desktop are thus: it's not meant to be there. It's surreal dealing with what is essentially a touch-based mobile phone OS on a computer, and feels shoehorned in. At no point, for instance, does it point out that the "back" button on most phones is emulated by the Esc button on the keyboard. You can also set the alarm clock, but it'll only work if your laptop is actually on — it doesn't include the ability to boot and ring. Multiple screens can be flicked between, but there's no indicator as to which one you're on, and using the mouse to flick them across is difficult.

It does give a quick-boot environment for a web browser, email, Google talk and other applications, but it can't access the Windows partition, making the music playing and image viewing apps somewhat useless — you'll have to drag any files you want to see to the 4GB Android partition visible through Windows. While we like the idea of pre-boot systems, resuming a hibernated system doesn't take much longer and gives far more flexibility.

Lined around the outside is a VGA port, three USB ports, 100Mb Ethernet port, SD card reader and being a netbook, that's it. There's no Bluetooth, but it does support 802.11n, if only the 2.4GHz version.

We long ago gave up benchmarking standard netbooks, as these things are capable of light office work and web browsing, and not much else. More important is keyboard comfort (which is passable, but not fantastic) and battery life. With all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum and an XviD file played back, it lasted four hours and four minutes. Not the longest battery life we've seen, but a decent showing nonetheless.

For AU$499, the Acer Aspire One Happy is likely to make someone happy. Increasingly, though, we're seeing netbooks as too limited, especially when they're bundled with 1GB RAM, are limited to 1024x600 and come with Windows 7 Starter. We'd be much more tempted to splash out on a thin-and-light like the MacBook Air or a full-fledged budget laptop instead.



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cware36 posted a comment   
United States

I BOUGHT 3 AND ALL THREE THE SCREEN MESSED UP

PhilippaP Facebook
8
Rating
 

"A pleasure to use, I love it, pity it doesn't have better res display"

PhilippaP posted a review   
Australia

The Good:great keyboard; thin and light;

The Bad:no bluetooth; 2GB RAM not standard; not available with Linux;

I bought a purple (really lavender) one of these for $260...excellent price - not worth $499 tho. I'm not an Android fan so I disabled that at once, repartitioned the hard drive and installed Linux Mint 11. They were made for each other.
I now love this more than my MacBook Air (the latest one).
If anyone at Acer wanted my opinion though I'd advise they include the following if they want the next model to be relevant.

1. increase the resolution
2. include 2GB as standard
3. include Bluetooth as standard (having to waste a USB port on a bluetooth dongle is unwarranted and prehistoric)
4. and of course, as mentioned earlier, offer Linux and/or Win7 OS.

They could drop the whole idea of including Android though. I agree completely with the reviewer on that one.

To summarise, excellent little netbook. Fast (I bought an Asus Eee PC 1015PEM at the same time (with the same configuration) as this and it's slower by a couple of seconds on everything..and that's with 2GB dual track RAM (the Acer only uses single track RAM). With 2GB RAM it plays games flawlessly. The trackpad is terrific but scrolling can be a little jerky running down a page full of gifs. The Happy runs multiple apps really well too. I've opened 7 at once and not noticed any lag. This is probably helped by not installing a full version of Win7. Any benefit of upgrading the ram would be rendered useless with a full installation.

So that's what I think of the Happy. Best Netbook I've ever used - and I own or have owned more than a dozen in the last couple of years.

 

Torque posted a comment   

I am still trying to find out if this device has access to the android app store - quite a few android devices do not.

 

JessieJess posted a comment   

i love my netbook. i use it everyday and i cant stay away from it. it light. comes in 4 pretty colors. i have the green one and is prettier i person.

 

RP posted a comment   

"we're seeing netbooks as too limited". Aha! then what can we say about the "must have" tablets ?

I bet we will end up hearing the same in 1 or 2 yrs.

 

RP posted a comment   

"we're seeing netbooks as too limited". Aha! then what can we say about the "must have" tablets ?

I bet we will end up hearing the same in 1 or 2 yrs.




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User Reviews / Comments  Acer Aspire One Happy

  • cware36

    cware36

    "I BOUGHT 3 AND ALL THREE THE SCREEN MESSED UP"

  • PhilippaP

    PhilippaP

    Rating8

    "I bought a purple (really lavender) one of these for $260...excellent price - not worth $499 tho. I'm not an Android fan so I disabled that at once, repartitioned the hard drive and installed Linu..."

  • Torque

    Torque

    "I am still trying to find out if this device has access to the android app store - quite a few android devices do not."

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