Acer sent me a slick blue Acer Aspire One to test as part of their educational seed program on Friday. I have it for 30 days to put through its paces as a companion PC for me, as well as a possible 1:1 solution with a variety of students. I'll also be running it by several teachers to see if it can meet their needs since the little machines are cheap and highly portable.
The Aspire One has been well-reviewed elsewhere. A quick Google search will give you plenty of feedback on the machine, most of which has been generally positive (aside from the folks who simply don't dig netbooks). Therefore, although the posts I'll be writing on it over the next few weeks will have a reviewish flavor, they'll really be getting at whether netbooks (and the Aspire One in particular) can address the needs of students, educators, administrators, and power users, and whether there are qualifications for any of those audiences (e.g., are there certain subsets of students for whom the netbook form factor is particularly well-suited?).
For me, what I really want to know is, can this become my primary computer? I know I'd need a desktop to supplement and handle high-powered stuff, but can I write a book on a netbook? Can I blog on it every day? Can I handle the mountains of correspondence, documentation, and budgeting that consume my time? Or am I better off eating the couple pounds and sticking with my MacBook?
For students, I want to know if this can be the basis of a 1:1 solution and, if so, at what grades? Can high school students use them effectively? Are they a better choice for college students to combat that wall of laptops in many classes?
I'll keep you posted. I'll be writing a lot about this little machine over the next 4 weeks (and the majority of the posts, including this one, will be written using the netbook). For now, so we're all on the same page, you can find the specs here (I'm using the Linux version of the Aspire One with a gig of RAM and the 120GB hard drive, but Acer is also sending me one of their compact desktops to review; it has a similar hardware platform, but will be running Windows).