The inclusion of Android is ultimately disappointing, and otherwise the D250 is just another netbook.
Acer’s newest Aspire One netbook is the first computer we’ve seen that runs Android, Google’s mobile operating system. It also comes with Windows, and you can choose to boot into either OS.
Apart from its dual operating systems, the D250 is a pretty standard netbook. The Intel Atom N270 processor, 160GB hard disk and 1GB of RAM performed just below what we’d expect for such a specification. This is attributable to it running Windows 7 rather than Windows XP. It’s the Starter Edition that’s installed, which lacks Media Center and the 3D desktop.
Android boots up much quicker than Windows 7, but the stripped-down version installed is barely useful. Any changes to your Google account settings have to be done in Windows rather than Android. Google Mail synchronisation with your Google account isn’t included as standard, with only calendars and contacts synchronising automatically. You don’t even have direct access to the Android Market, so you can’t install any new applications, leaving you with just the basic set of apps (such as the browser, email and media player).
Furthermore, Android is designed to be controlled by a touchscreen, and using the tiny touchpad is laborious. Having a full QWERTY keyboard is certainly a big plus, though, especially when using the quick-booting Android to check your email and fire off quick replies.
A battery life of just under seven hours in our light-usage test is respectable, though the best netbooks manage over nine. As with most netbooks, its screen supports a maximum resolution of 1,024×600. This makes working in Windows feel cramped, but is huge compared to an Android smartphone. The display is bright and has accurate colours.
Acer hasn’t used the full width of the case for the keyboard, and even with small keys, the layout has been compromised – the Enter key is half-height and the Backslash key has moved. The raised shape of the keys makes them easy to type on, though, and they provide crisp feedback. The small touchpad has a single, see-saw button with little travel.
Many of the features that make Android exciting – the Market, hassle-free Google synchronisation and touchscreen control – are missing from the D250. Windows 7 is a far more useful operating system. However, with a small keyboard and touchpad, we wouldn’t rush out to buy the D250 yet. Plenty of other Windows 7 netbooks are becoming available, and we think Samsung’s N140 (full review next month) will give the D250 some stiff competition.