Acer Brings Upgraded Netbook To U.S., But Without Linux

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Acer's new, larger Aspire One netbook is now shipping in the U.S., about a week earlier than expected, but it's lacking the optional preloaded Linux operating system offered with its predecessor.

The company previously estimated that the 10.1-inch Aspire One AOD150 would hit U.S. shelves in mid-February, but Acer is rolling out the netbook Monday, about a week ahead of schedule.

The new model replaces Acer's previous Aspire One offering, which included an 8.9-inch display. Aside from the larger screen, it also brings one other major difference: It is only available from Acer preloaded with Microsoft's Windows XP Home operating system. Previously, customers had the option of ordering a system preloaded with either Windows XP Home or Linpus Linux Lite.

With the bigger form factor, Acer aims to provide a bigger screen and roomier keyboard while still maintaining the ultramobility that is the hallmark of the netbook category.

Acer first launched the 10.1-inch netbook in the U.K. on Jan. 23.

Acer's netbook line is appealing to a new set of customers and is opening doors for the vendor and its partners, said Rich Black, director of marketing for Acer America, in a recent interview with Channelweb.

"Netbooks are a great opportunity to expose Acer into environments in which we haven't played before. We have a substantial competitive advantage in this space right now, and netbooks allow us—and partners, by extension—to expose customers to a new portfolio of solutions," Black said.

With its larger form factor, the Aspire One AOD150 should be more appealing to users who felt cramped by its predecessor.

In addition, it is becoming clear that using a netbook as a primary PC just isn't an option, even though the systems have attractive price tags, solution providers say.

"[Netbooks] are best for people who already have a standard 13- to 17-inch notebook. Netbooks are best for partners and executives that need to be connected everywhere they go, but they can't live with [only] a netbook," said Michael Oh, founder and president of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based solution provider. "The sacrifice in performance, power and screen size makes them best to function as a secondary device."

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But that doesn't mean getting work done on the road shouldn't be comfortable. Acer's bigger screen continues to push netbooks toward notebook territory, but the stripped-down specs ensure that lower price tags will remain.

The specs on the new Aspire One are in line with what has become typical for the netbook market. An Intel Atom processor is par for the course—in this case, it's the N270. A Mobile Intel 945GSE Express chipset also comes standard on the Aspire One.

Its 160-GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive is accompanied by 1 GB of memory, providing plenty of room for the preloaded Windows XP Home operating system with Service Pack 3.

Like other netbooks, the Aspire One is still designed for ultramobility, constant uptime and cloud computing applications. To that end, the netbook comes with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi support as part of the standard package. A six-cell Li-ion battery provides six hours of constant computing, doubling the battery life of the previous version.

The 10.1-inch Aspire has a WSVGA LED backlit display with 1,024 x 600 resolution. It also includes an integrated Crystal Eye Webcam, allowing for live video streams and video chats. To make images and graphics clear, an integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 is part of the package.

Overall, the Acer Aspire One weighs 2.95 pounds and is available in four colors: seashell white, sapphire blue, ruby red and diamond black.

The Acer Aspire One AOD150 carries a suggested starting price of $349.99 and is available now. Its 8.9-inch predecessor had been priced at $329 after Acer dropped the price in August from $379.

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