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Hands-on with the Acer Aspire One 751 netbook

Acer very kindly sent me their Aspire One 751 netbook so I could have a hands-on try. Here are my thoughts.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Acer very kindly sent me their Aspire One 751 netbook so I could have a hands-on try. Here are my thoughts.

The 751 has a bright 11.6-inch screen, which is on the large side for a netbook. This does, however, give a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. If you've used a netbook before, you will know the syndrome of excessive scrolling, brought about by most netbooks' 1,024x600 resolution — avoiding that is most welcome.

This higher resolution is now starting to find its way down to smaller netbooks, such as the 10-inch-screened Sony Vaio W-series. As my eyesight is good, the resulting tiny icons shouldn't be a problem for me, but I imagine for some it will be a trade-off between visibility and the convenience of not having to scroll down all the time. The 751 is a decent compromise on that front.

Aside from resolution, the other advantage of going larger than 10 inches is the increased keyboard size. The 751's keyboard certainly looks nice and big. The keys are quite large and square, and there's a good-sized right shift key and a proper enter key, but their design (raised but with gaps underneath) means the keyboard isn't uniformly responsive. I sat in a press conference with this thing last week and made a heck of a lot more typos than usual.

Battery life was great. However, the 6-cell battery that my unit came with stuck out of the 751's rear rather noticeably. Useful, but not terribly slick.

The 751 is slightly heavier than a normal netbook, but not by much. I carried it around in my bag all day, and it was noticeable, just like any other netbook, but not really more so.

I rather like the 751, but I have two complaints (other than the keyboard thing). The first regards the trackpad, which has the same coating as the rest of the palm-rest part of the netbook — this means my finger kept catching as I was trying to manipulate the cursor, rather than smoothly gliding across.

The second (and biggest) complaint is about the 1.33GHz Atom Z520 processor. Too slow. I've played with a few netbooks, the most recent of which was the N280-equipped Asus Eee 1000HE, and the 751 just doesn't come close. No netbook is a speed demon, but this one really can be irritatingly slow.

Same screen, a more chiclet-style keyboard, a smoother trackpad and a beefier chipset, please, Acer. That would be a no-brainer. Quibbling aside, though, if you're looking to get a decent netbook right now that has better-than-average resolution, the 751 is probably the best choice out there.

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