Acer Aspire One 533 review
Acer has made some questionable design choices with the Aspire One range in the past, but the new 533 is possibly its best-looking netbook to date. Gunmetal grey has been Acer’s colour of choice for a while now, but that’s because it looks sleek and won’t appear out of place at home or the office. The 533 is also finished in this colour, and has an understated black lid embossed with the Aspire One logo. We think the glossy black screen bezel detracts slightly from the overall design.
The keyboard is mostly full-size; only the function and arrow keys have been shrunk to make room for the rest of the Chiclet-style keys. Although the keyboard is entirely flat, the case is angled so the typing position is comfortable on a flat surface. It can become uncomfortable after using it on your lap for a few hours, but few people will need to do this. There was an average amount of flex in the keys, which was only noticeable when applying a lot of pressure. The touchpad is flush with the wrist rest and marked out by a series of raised ridges. It was responsive, although slightly resistant to movement, while the buttons are awkwardly placed at the very edge of the chassis, and the single-bar design has a very large central dead spot which frequently interrupted mouse clicks.
Despite the low 1,024x600 resolution, the 10.1in screen produced sharp images, but viewing angles were disappointing. There was minor colour distortion when viewed only slightly side-on and the glossy finish meant a lot of reflections. The screen has fantastic vertical tilt, lying almost flat at its maximum, but usable angles that produced accurate colours were limited.
Video playback was smooth and, although the Intel integrated graphics can't handle 1080p video, 720p playback was sharp and fluid. Audio was less impressive, with the two downward facing speakers producing below-average sound quality. Volume was acceptable but only mid-tones were well pronounced; treble and bass were indistinct.
Acer has opted for an Intel Atom N475, which supports newer DDR3 memory, but at 1.83GHz it’s no faster than the old N470. Managing an overall score of 19 in our benchmarks, it shows a small boost over older Atom chips but despite the faster memory, 1GB isn’t enough for multitasking without slowing down the system. The benefit of the new chip is a low power draw; an excellent nine hours in our light-usage test shows that the Aspire One 533 is great to use on the move. After several hours the casing was still cool to the touch, although the underside was slightly warm. The fan was very quiet when the netbook was idle, but it was never silent.
The 533 is one of the best Aspire One netbooks we’ve seen from Acer. Although the screen has limited viewing angles, the overall usability was very good. The design is simple yet attractive, and the refreshed processor improves performance over older netbooks. A very reasonable price makes this an excellent all-round netbook.
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