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★★★☆☆

“The other day I went into PC World for something that...”

Written on: 18/07/2008 by helen3942 (2 reviews written)

Good Points
Processor - Intel Atom
Screen - Excellent
Can run Windows XP Pro

Bad Points
Microphone doesn't record sound
Battery life not great - 2.5 to 3 hours

General Comments
The other day I went into PC World for something that was sold out and came away with an Acer Aspire One A110 Mini Laptop which, as far as I knew, wasn't due on sale until the end of this month. But PC World had loads at £250 each. Fair enough it seemed right up my street.



I won't waste time describing this device and where it fits in the overall scheme of things. Others have done that already. Enough to say that the Acer Aspire One I got was the entry level model with 8Gb NAND storage, 512Mb RAM and Linpus Linux as the OS. But if you hate Linux this machine will run Windows XP Pro SP2. I know, cos I've tried it. All Win XP Pro drivers are at tinyurl.com



This is Acer's Thai site "where English is spoke.



The Acer Aspire One A110 is a great little unit if you can accept that, under Linpus, both the internal microphone and an external microphone connected via the side 3.5mm jack will not record sound for the web cam application. Under Windows XP Pro SP2 the internal mic will still not record sound to Sound Recorder, but an external mic will, albeit the quality is awful. And I mean really awful - worse even than the cheapest digital dictation machine.



Maybe I was expecting too much for 250 quid. But I took my unit back to PC World and was told that the internal mic will only work for Skype and the Internet Messaging applications installed on the unit. Apparently the Linux software does not support sound recording for the webcam application. To prove this the Tech Guy tried another Acer Aspire One UK which behaved the same as mine. So I asked for a refund.



Before going back to the store I had called Acer UK only to be told that they had not even seen an Aspire one yet, so couldn't offer tech support on the unit. I was invited to call back next day between 9am and 6pm, by which time 'more info might be available'. But the number given was premium-rate and the Acer guy justified this by saying that only the hardware is guaranteed for a year "not the software, which he felt was causing my microphone woes.



Altogether what a terrible shame because, otherwise, I'd grown fond of my little 'One'. Obviously it isn't the quickest machine around, though a tad more memory night make it a fraction nippier: there's a small door on the underside with two screws which I imagine affords access to the DDR memory module.



Battery-wise I managed a good 2.5 hours, which would probably have improved after the battery was properly conditioned "maybe giving three hours top whack". The machine ran very cool and the screen was a joy to behold. Although the trackpad seemed a trifle small for my liking I found it easy to type on the keyboard. And, of course, a USB mouse made life much easier. Connecting to my home WLAN was a cinch.



On the whole I would say that the Acer Aspire One A110 is a very well-intentioned and reasonably specified machine let down tremendously by the mic problems mentioned above. Hopefully these will be sorted out over the next few months. Meanwhile there are other similar products in the offing that may prove more satisfying and better value.