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I'm a bit of a label-snob when it comes to computers, sticking to my big-name, big-price brands. As such, I don't know my Acer from my elbow, and like the Asuses, E-machines and MSIs of this world, the name just kind of reminds me of the unfamilair, slightly sinister brands of German sausage lining the shelves of Aldi. Alpenmark Wienerschnitzel, anyone?
I know this is horribly, irredeemably wrong of me - but the Aspire One Happy, despite the name sounding like the kind of dubious English that would adorn a bottle of Japanese lubricant, is my path to redemption.
I didn't really need a netbook. I have a perfectly good laptop - or near-enough. It makes enough noise in its whirring and purring and moaning and groaning to be heard in the flat downstairs, and it tends to start melting my trousers after an hour or more of use, but it does everything you'd ask of it. I tend to travel quite a bit though, and would prefer to avoid shaking my aged laptop to pieces in my backpack - so enter the One Happy. Like Enter The Dragon, but pink.
Vital-statistics-wise, it's a neat, unflashy netbook - 1GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, 3 USB slots and a basic webcam are all pretty much in line with other similar models on the market. The 10.1-inch screen is fine, really for the basic applications you're going to be running on the machine - it's bright and clear, and there's not much you can do with a netbook that'd expose its limitations too starkly. Certainly, as far as word-processing and internet-surfing goes, it's perfectly adequate.
Windows 7 Starter is pre-installed, which is okay - the stripped-down, bargain-bin edition has had some strange things taken out in transition from its bigger brother (you can't change the wallpaper, so you're stuck with the default garish blue background, which is weird, but none too fatal), although essentially it's a solid operating system that does what you need from it. Some of the additional touches that were welcome additions to the full system are missing here - no Snip tool, for instance - but in practice, you barely miss them.
Physically, this is a nice product - at one inch thick and next-to-nothing in weight, it's a perfect travelling companion. Lightweight doesn't equate to flimsy, happily, and despite its delicate dimensions, the netbook has a sturdy, solid feel to it. I'm not rich enough to throw it down the stairs in the name of comprehensive reviewing, but I reckon it'd fare okay. In any case, it can handle being jostled around a bag without problems.
Aesthetically-talking, the One Happy also pulls its weight - the two-tone colourways are pretty appealing (Candy Pink, Lavender Purple, Lime Green and Hawaii Blue are available), and it benefits from a clean-cut, unfussy design with one or two neat splashes, like the rippled lid and coloured touchpad.
The touchpad is also the home of one of the other nice innovations belonging to the machine - "multi-gesture technology", whilst not being as fun as it sounds, allows for scrolling, zooming, flipping and rotating with a variety of two-finger movements across the surface of the touchpad. This is a neat addition that's actually pretty handy, and while I'm not mad on the sensitivity of the buttons, which feel a bit leaden, this is a neat gimmick.
At around £220-250, this model is a little pricier than the basic Aspire Ones, but the major upgrade for me - the 8-hour battery life - makes it worth the extra investment. You get plenty out of the netbook, and for me, this long-lifespan was a major plus-point.
A lesser-name has won me over with this netbook. It looks great, it's intuitive and functional, and it goes for hours. Thanks to the Aspire One Happy, I'm a reformed label-snob. Consequently, I've even come to love Aldi's meats of mysterious provenance.