Oh, netbooks. Doug loves ‘em, but I’m still not convinced of their vitalness. Is it neat to see a tiny little computer zip around the Internet? Sure, yeah. Can I go about my business without ever having owned one? So far, so good! I bring this up because yesterday I was able to goof around—in truth, that’s probably the most accurate phrase to describe it, no matter how silly it sounds—with Acer’s newest netbook, the Aspire One AOD250 ($350, available now, rumored for the past 700 years). It’s a netbook; it doesn’t look too different from netbooks you’ve already seen, but for one difference: see that little switch right there? That’s where you tell the netbook to boot into Android or Windows XP.
That’s right: this netbook is able to dual-boot, and pretty easily, too. (Though I’m sure it’s just a matter of putting a couple of ISOs on a flash drive to configure any netbook to dual-boot, but I somehow doubt Joe Sixpack has any interest in doing such a thing.) It’s not hard to figure out why Acer would do this: netbooks, for better or worse, are where consumers’ money is going these days, and despite the fact that margins there are still pretty tight—really, how much profit can you expect when you’re selling these things for $300?—Acer has to follow the crowd. Can’t let other companies hog all the fun, right?
So throw XP and Android on it. That way, you’ve got an operating system that was designed from the ground-up to be gentle on devices with very little horsepower, and another operating system where people can “surf the Internet,” that is, fire up Internet Explorer and buy movie tickets from that one Web site. You know, because no other browser, let alone operating system, can work in the Internet. (Is is just me, or do you still know people who, despite the fact that computers have been pretty accessible since the mid-1990s, are still like, “What’s a URL? Oh, you mean the words I type to read my Hotmail?”)
In having both XP and Android on the netbook, Acer can say, “Hey there, person who’s money we’d like! Did you know that with our notebook you can use an OS that excels on netbooks, and have your Windows, too? And all you have to do is press this button, et voilà!”
Presumably Acer has a marketing team that’s a little more clever than that.
How does the AOD250 feel? Frankly, like every other netbook out there. That may be fine if you have small hands, or are comfortable with working in small spaces, but if you’re a Big Guy, it’s not exactly ideal to smash your wrists together trying to poke out an e-mail or tweet. Another weird point: we’re pretty used to seeing Android on touchscreen devices, and interacting with it as such. This Acer netbook, though, doesn’t have a touchscreen. Now, I’m cool with that—the Zune HD is my very first touchscreen device, and I’m still getting used to it, several weeks after having given the nice man at Wal-Mart my money—but I can almost hear some of you yelling “Lame!!!” Calm down, sirs, it really isn’t a big deal.
Specs? Again, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but you read about one netbook… It’s got a 10.1-inch screen, 160GB hard drive (not a flash drive, just to clear that up), 1GB of memory, built-in 802.11b/g and Bluetooth, three USB ports, and a multi-touch touchpad. An Intel Atom N80 powers the whole thing. That should be enough to run Windows XP, right? I mean, XP is an 8-year-old OS at this point!
So, netbookers, I ask you this: yea or nay? I feel as thought I’ve completely skipped out on the netbook fun, and don’t really have as personal reaction to this as I normally like.