I already owned a laptop, which I sometimes took to work for personal use but which practically filled my workbag and was quite heavy, so I bought this netbook to fill that particular role. I liked the sound of it's dimensions, and my needs were pretty limited really - Office applications and wireless Internet access pretty much covers them! Therefore please forgive the fact that this review is not going to be heavy on technical details, in fact lets get the spec out of the way first, as most of it means nothing to me...
-10.1" LED LCD screen
-Intel Atom Processor N450
-Windows 7® Starter 32-bit
-Up to 4hrs battery life
=Look and feel=
This netbook fit my needs perfectly in terms of it's size and weight. Its dimensions are 256x182x24mm and it weighs 180g. The netbook was available in a range of "funky" colours, but I'm a traditional girl and opted for the silver grey version. This has a classy feel, with the brand "Aspire One" embossed into the classy looking smooth matt grey top, opening up to a shinier silver grey casing to the keyboard and a shiny black surround to the screen.
The lid doesn't click shut, but it closes tightly and snugly and also stays perfectly in place when opened. The whole thing has a very good solid feel to it, not at all cheap or plasticy.
=Usability & My experience=
One of the things that came up in a few reviews I read at the time, and was key in my decision to buy (no pun intended), was that the keyboard was quite generous for a netbook this size. The keys aren't quite full sized but they certainly aren't miniature, and they almost fill the body of the base to ensure they are the maximum size possible. The main numbers and letters are 16mm square with a 1.5mm gap between, and I find that this is a decent, user-friendly size. I've actually read that it represents 93% full sized, which I think is excellent considering the small size of the netbook. Having smallish hands I've never had a problem with the keys but it would definitely require some care to be taken for anyone with larger hands or fingers. The keys themselves appear to be just flat plastic keys, rather than buttons, and they are set almost level with the outer casing of the netbook. Overall, I'd say the ergonomics involved in normal keyboard usage has been well thought-out and designed on this model.
Functions not appearing on the netbook which appear on my desktop keyboard are very few - my desktop has a "home" and "end" key as well as a separate numeric keypad to the right hand side of the normal keyboard, but otherwise all key functions are present, and mainly one-touch, without the need for "Function" key to be pressed. So there's directional arrows, page up and down, Insert, Delete, Backspace, as well as the usual generously sized return, shift and space bar. Various additional functions are available via the 'function' key - disable touchpad, mute sound, adjust volume, number lock (activating an inset calculator-style kepad), and brightness adjust. Overall I have never noticed any function not possible on this netbook.
The screen itself at 10.1" is quite big enough for me to carry out all my tasks. Naturally, there isn't a huge area visible when typing in some Office applications at full size - 22 lines in Word (TimesNR 12pt) for instance, 21 rows x 15 columns in Excel, but this can be increased by reducing toolbars and working at a reduced percentage screen - again something I'm comfortable with, but wouldn't be good for everyone. However, issues like this are going to be relevant to all netbooks of this size and are unavoidable.
In terms of the display, I find it very crisp. The screen is a shiny finish, which although giving issues in terms of needing to avoid reflection/glare from windows, gives a lovely clear picture. Brightness can be adjusted, and with the brightness maximised, the display is every bit on a par with my laptop or desktop. Viewing photos on the netbook gives a great experience.
Surfing the net is a good experience using the netbook it's quick and it connects easily and steadily to my wifi at home as well as at the office, where the hub is around 25m and the other side of several doors/walls. Having said that, signal strength does read as "very good" rather than "excellent" but in terms of actual performance, I can't detect a difference. Again, allowances have to be made for the size of the screen on some web pages - I can view 13 emails on my inbox list compared to 23 on my desktop. But this is more than enough and for everything I need the netbook for, it's more than adequate.
There is also a webcam above the screen in the centre, but I've never used this feature.
I don't really use my netbook for video, but just viewed some tv through iplayer to check out the quality. Again, the quality of the picture is identical to my other computers, and the sound is perfectly good enough too. I possibly don't think the size and performance would be up to scratch for serious video watchers or gamers, but for occasional or undemanding viewing, it's fine.
The one thing I have never been able to get to grips with (in every sense) is the touchpad. It has a smooth finish to match the surrounding casing, and is only very feintly detectably raised from its surroundings. It has a shiny horizontal click pad underneath which is easy enough to use, but for me, buying and using a mouse for this netbook was a necessity. I do use the touchpad when I'm using the netbook other than at my desk, but this is rare really and I really don't like it, it seems to be too sensitive and easily detects a scroll when I am just trying to move the cursor slightly.
There are 3 USB ports, which is a great feature for me considering that one is permanently taken by my mouse, but there are also External (VGA), Ethernet, Headphone and Microphone jack sockets (yes, I did have to look them up!) Another feature that I use a lot is the inbuilt card reader. My camera uses SD cards, which work faultlessly in the reader, but it is termed a "multi" reader so should be suitable for other formats too. Popping the card from my camera in there opens the window on screen in a few seconds and the images on screen are easily on a par with my laptop and desktop, very crisp.
The netbook comes with a power cable but I still find that it runs well without the cable, I no longer get the stated 4 hours life, but easily 2.5 hours which I think is reasonable compared to other laptops I've owned which have dropped their life much more over a similar period of time. The socket for the power cable is the same size as that of my ACER laptop, so this means I don't need to bring the power pack/cable with me to work, I can just plug into the laptop lead.
The netbook came loaded with Windows XP, which is now a fair bit behind the times. It did not come with Office preloaded, although it did come with an ACER bundle of media-related applications. I haven't loaded much else onto the netbook, so there's not a great deal to bog it down, but I would class the performance (in terms of responsiveness to commands/clicks) as excellent, it's really quite quick.
This model is no longer available new, but is widely available as a refurbished or second hand item around the £120-£150 mark, and in buying this netbook you certainly wouldn't be sacrificing any style - in my opinion it's up there with all the latest models in terms of its look and design. I can appreciate that newer models will have additional or improved functions, but for my own needs this netbook more than meets the mark, and I would have no hesitation is endorsing it for anyone whose basic needs are documents, internet surfing and storing and managing photos.
This is a really great little netbook.
It has a very functional sized keyboard - unlike some other netbooks which I have used previously. Although the description of "full sized" which was advertised when I bought it was quite misleading as the keys are closer together if not marginally smaller. This means that whilst long essays should still be written on a larger keyboard for posture etc, I almost always use my D260 for emails, writing reviews, notetaking and spreadsheeting. The screen is large enough and of good enough quality to ensure that there is no real straining.
As with any single-core processor, it is not the fastest computer you will use. This was, however, the main reason behind me buying this netbook with this processor: I wanted it to be difficult to use too many programmes at once so that I would remain focussed when working! Nontheless, I can easily have two web broswers (IE and Chrome), a word processor, a spreadsheet, a music player and Skype running without noticing too much lag.
Talking to Skype: this comes with a built-in mic and webcam, which are of decent enough quality to allow for video calls, along with the wi-fi! Although due to the extra memory requirement of video calling, this is very much a task that should be run solo or alongside only one other programme.
Design: it is very light especially when considering the price, and even with two neoprene cases it is lighter than one of my textbooks! the purple being around the keyboard, not just on the top cover, is a nice touch that not many laptops and netbooks that I have shopped for previously have managed.
Battery life: excellent. I have used it for 5 hours without wi-fi on before, 3 with it on (I have a 3-cell battery). I have had it for a year and the deterioration in battery life is minimal. The charger it comes with is pleasingly compact too.
Fairly durable, too: I have trodden on it and dropped it many a time; while this is not recommended it is reassuring that it has survived it all!
A highly recommended netbook!
This laptop, due to its ultra-portability, is used mainly in the library by me. This means that, although I am almost always listening to music on it (which seems good enough quality, no worse than my great Sony MP3 player at least!) I do not often play high-quality sound out of the speakers, instead opting for some external speakers (see my Sony speakers review!) The volume range is fairly decent, but external speakers are probably recommended if you intend to listen without headphones often.
However, I just had an hour-ish 'test' of the sound and the quality is about normal for a budget laptop: not too distorted or crackly at all, so it does not ruin songs for those other than music-buffs, whilst there is a noticeable increase in quality when changing to headphones or external speakers: it is the speakers not the sound card which is 'below-par'. As the only time I personally use the laptops speakers is when on Skype where I am relying on another's microphone quality, I hadn't thought to include sound previously - sorry!
In terms of graphics, with only 1GB Memory it would be difficult to run anything which desired high-level graphics or a designated graphics memory and graphics card, however it is a crisp screen and does not seem quite as susceptible to the angle issues as other laptops (particularly Acers) I have used previously.
I paid £230 for this, and having previously been looking at netbooks over £400 it is fantastic value, I couldn't believe it when I saw the price after I'd read the spec! It has continued to impress me.