Netbook Fight! Gateway LT3103 versus Acer Aspire One 751h

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In the search for affordable 11.6-inch netbooks, you have a couple of enticing choices in the Acer Aspire One 751h (see review here) and the Gateway LT3103. Both pretty much come from the same company, as Acer owns Gateway, and while the outward look and feel of each system is pretty similar, there are some notable internal differences.

Scott Wasson over at the Tech Report did an excellent job comparing the two systems, so make sure to hit up his 10-page opus for the full details. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Acer 751h is whisper quiet, while the LT3103′s fan is constantly running
  • The Gateway LT3103 has better trackpad
  • The Gateway LT3103 has better web browsing performance
  • The Gateway’s screen is a little better with color reproduction
  • Both keyboards are pretty much exactly the same
  • Neither system does well with video past 480p QuickTime, SD DivX, and low-res Hulu in a window
  • Wasson removed McAfee from the Acer, and Norton from Gateway and replaced Vista on both machines with Windows 7 RC1. The Acer had more bloatware out of the box.
  • Battery life with a six-cell battery: Gateway got 3 hours while watching movies, 4 hours when web surfing; Acer got 5 hours while watching movies, 6.5 hours when web surfing

Overall, Wasson finds the LT3103 to offer the fewest compromises — the main one being battery life, but that’s about it. Without having tried the LT1303 myself personally, I can still see his point. The two systems are very similar as far as price and build are concerned — the Acer offers marathon battery life but not much power, while the Gateway offers much more power at the expense of battery life and noise:

“The Gateway LT3103 is the most successfully executed of the two systems, because its Athlon 64 processor and Radeon graphics give it the performance to match its larger screen and keyboard. The grown-up looks and finish of the Gateway set it apart from the Aspire One 751, as well. If you like to fret over the semantics of ‘netbook’ versus ‘notebook,’ the LT3103 will positively put you into a tizzy of hair splitting and confusion—endless hours of fun. I could see this system replacing a full-sized laptop for an awful lot of users. It’s a heck of a bargain, too, compared to the Aspire One 751, since it comes with a larger battery at the same price.

The only real compromise the LT3103 requires, other than the lamentable lack of Bluetooth and 802.11n support, is its run time of roughly four hours…

…Although I don’t like the performance compromises required by the Aspire One 751, there’s no denying that it has a place in the market for folks who value sleek, quiet systems with high-res displays and long battery life—so long as you’re talking about a version with the six-cell battery. This is perhaps more of a color Kindle-killer for the web—a mobile device, if you will—than a full-fledged computer. You’ll just want to have your eyes wide open going into the purchase and be prepared to have your patience tested from time to time.”

Just as an aside: I tried out Windows 7 RC1 on the test Aspire One 751h that I have here and found it to be a bit too sluggish for everyday use. Once I reverted back to XP, everything was noticeably snappier. If you’re considering the 751h, I might suggest you look into one of the XP systems. Windows 7 ran okay once I ratcheted everything down as far as the display and graphical effects are concerned but XP ran pretty smoothly straight away once I’d removed McAfee and added an extra gigabyte of RAM.

Aspire One 751 vs. Gateway LT3103 [The Tech Report]

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