Acer takes a jaunt down the Pine Trail, but doesn't really break new ground
First things first: This is not a revolution. Although the Acer Aspire One AO532h boasts Intel’s new Pine Trail processor, the Atom N450, it’s no game changer. Instead, think of it as a highly polished evolution of the standard netbook.
Intel’s first Atom CPU, the N270, was the processor that launched a thousand netbooks, among them the 8.9-inch Aspire One, which was our favorite first-generation netbook, as well as one of the most popular. It’s fitting, then, that an Acer Aspire One is one of the first netbooks to arrive with Intel’s much-anticipated Atom N450, which consumes roughly 20 percent less power, and moves the chipset and graphics functionality into the CPU.
Other than the CPU, not much else is new about the AO532h—it has 1GB of DDR2; a 10.1-inch, 1024x600, LED-backlit LCD; and a glossy, fingerprint-magnet chassis. The hard drive is 250GB, which is nice, and both hard drive and RAM are easily upgradeable. It’s the first netbook we’ve tested with Windows 7 preinstalled, albeit the needlessly crippled Starter edition. The track pad, which supports multitouch, is a textured area that’s flush with the chassis; the chiclet-style keyboard is nearly full-size and easy to type on, although the keys depress lower than the chassis, which can be annoying when hitting the keys on the bottom row, where the sharp edge of the frame can dig into your thumbs.
The Aspire One AO532h is a well-designed netbook running the latest Atom chip. But is that enough?
The chassis of the AO532h is sleek and slim, and less than an inch thick. The whole shebang weighs two pounds, 11 ounces—slightly more than three pounds with the charger—which is lighter than most netbooks. The glossy lid’s finish fades from black at the bottom to dark blue at the top. The interior chassis is a combination of matte and glossy black, except for the track pad button, which is a somewhat jarring blue.
Despite the N450’s multithreading support, we didn’t see much of a performance boost in our benchmarks. Photoshop and MainConcept scores were within 5 percent of our Atom N270-based zero-point, while Quake III was 7.7 percent slower. Quake 4 was slightly higher than our zero-point, but there’s not much of a playability difference between 3.6fps and 4fps—the score might as well have been zero. For netbook gaming (such as it is), you really do need Ion.
Where the AO532h shines is in battery life. Thanks to the lower power draw of the Pine Trail chip, the AO532h eked out more than seven hours of battery life in our full-screen video rundown test. The only other netbook we’ve seen with that type of longevity was MSI’s Wind U123 (reviewed September 2009), and that netbook was rocking a 9-cell battery—the Aspire One ships with a 6-cell, and a low-profile one, at that.
The best thing about the Acer Aspire One AO532h, though, is its price. At just less than $300, it’s one of the most affordable netbooks out there. Heck, with the money you save, you can drop $80 on a Windows Anytime Upgrade to Home Premium.
Bloatware notwithstanding—and we definitely recommend you run PC Decrapifier on this machine as soon as you get it—the Aspire One AO532h is a well-crafted, refined, inexpensive netbook. As such, it is near the top of its class. But with the rise of similarly priced CULV ultrathins, how much longer will Atom-powered netbooks be viable?
Acer Aspire one AO532H
Well-crafted; decent performance; excellent battery life; roomy hard drive; inexpensive.
Still just an Atom-powered netbook; mushy keys; fingerprint magnet.
Acer Aspire One AO532h
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
Main Concept (min)
Quake III (fps)
Quake 4 (fps)
Battery Life (mins)
Our zero point netbook is a Lenovo IdeaPad S12 with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, 1GB of DDR2/667 RAM, a 160GB hard drive, Intel GMA950 integrated graphics chipset, and Windows XP Home SP3.
Acer Aspire One AO532h
1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Intel GMA 3150
10.1-inch LED-backlit TFT LCD@1024x600
250GB HDD (5,400rpm)
Three USB 2.0, audio in/out, SD/multi-card reader, VGA, 10/100 Ethernet