Oct 042009
 

Since I last reviewed netbooks, the number of new choices and models has increased 10-fold while the price has decreased on average $100-$150. Surprisingly, technology and performance have remained roughly the same. The Aspire ZA3 is based on the Z520 Processor, one of Intel's newest, low-wattage CPU's made specifically for small form factor PCs.

What to Like about the Acer Aspire One Netbook

  • Battery Life
  • 11.6" Screen
  • HD 1366-768 Resolution Screen
  • 160GB Hard Drive
  • Full-Size Key keyboard
  • Build Quality
  • Thin, Sleek, Great Looks
  • Sub-$300 Price Tag
  • Web Cam

What Not to Like

  • Windows XP Home OS
  • Slow Processing Speed
  • Low, 1GB Memory
  • Installed Junk Software and Bloatware

Details, Specifications and Performance of the Acer Aspire One Netbook

The ZA3 Aspire One Model was equipped from Costco with a Z520 1.33 Processor, 3-Cell, 6-hour Battery, 160GB Hard Drive, Web-Cam and Windows XP Home. Also included was a 60 day trial of Office Home and Student and a permanent version of Microsoft Works. Out of the box, the Aspire one looks and feels great. The full sized keys on the keyboard are a real asset for a netbook this size, and they feel good and solid when you press them. Unfortunately, the excitement turns into the need for plenty of patients as you wait for Windows XP Home to boot up and go through the initial user-setup for the first time. The Atom 1.33 Z520 Processor is one of Intel's newer, energy-saving, portable processors. While I appreciate the longer battery life, the speed doesn't seem to be quite as good as the 1.6 used in the first generation of netbook CPUs. To make matters worse, Acer has preloaded the netbook with a bunch of worthless bloatware in the form of McAfee Virus Scanners and games. No way should a netbook be forced to use a processor, task-intensive virus scanner like McAfee. To further test my patience, Windows XP Updates and McAfee began running at the same time, which brought the poor Aspire One Netbook to its knees. I could not complete a single task until the updates were done. As soon as they were, I uninstalled McAfee, then downloaded and installed my favorite, free AVG Anti Virus. I also removed the 60-Day Office trial and all of the unneeded games. The result was the difference between night and day. The Aspire One Netbook actually became a usable computer and I was able to boot and surf the web much faster. Still, doubling the RAM would really help. Unfortunately, there is only one RAM slot, so the 1GB chip will have to be removed and thrown away, in place of the 2GB one I plan on purchasing for it. Once the unneeded software is removed, the Aspire One provides adequate performance as long as you are not

Conclusions

I am not a fan of XP Home or really any of the Windows-Based OS's on these netbooks. Having owned an i-Phone, I've grown to really appreciate the simplicity of it's icon-launched interface. A Netbook would be well suited for the same type of Operating System. Putting a bunch of programs on a Netbook cripples the performance and greatly diminishes the reason for owning one. The purpose of an ultra mobile computer is to allow you to be productive on the go, not to replace your more powerful laptop or desktop PC. At the very least, maybe manufacturers like Acer should start encouraging software developers to produce more efficient, mobile-type applications to market with their low-priced netbooks. They should be talking to the Apple I-Phone Apps programmers.

Despite any gripes and complaints, the Acer Aspire One ZA3 Netbook, offers quite a few more pluses than minuses. The larger, high definition, 1366x768 screen really stands out from others as does the look, build, quality, appearance and keyboard. The performance is sufficient once you get rid of the unneeded bloatware. Keep in mind, the Atom Z520 is a single-core processor, so it's going to feel pretty sluggish if you are performing multiple tasks, such as running software updates at the same time you are using or installing other programs. For surfing the web, checking your email, writing letters and other simple office tasks, the Z520 will suit you just fine, especially with an additional gigabyte of memory.

  10 Responses to “Aspire One Netbook Review”

  1. Did just what you suggested and the performance speed at least doubled. I was very disappointed in the the speed and your suggestions settled me down. One other suggestion is to remove the McAfee Bloating from your registry otherwise it will keep coming back and annoying you, slowing things down and being a regular pest. Just un-installing that program is not enough.

  2. Where can I get the 2MB memory for the ZA3?

  3. Mirin,

    So glad that your netbook performance improved significantly with the removal of the unneeded software. It works every time. It’s a shame that netbook manufacturers do this, but that’s how they are able to sell them to us for so cheaply. The Netbook and Notebook resellers, like Dell, Acer, Toshiba, Gateway, etc., get kickbacks from the software companies for installing their junk on them.

    Thank you for the suggestion about removing the McAfee registry entries.

    Rob

  4. Dwight,

    I apologize that I did not record the specification of the memory chip that is installed inside of the ZA3. Since then, I have given the netbook back to my Mother in Arizona. Therefore, I cannot say for sure with any confidence what kind of memory chip you need. The memory in these netbooks is very common.

    I am pretty sure any RAM with the spec SODIMM DDR2-533 or DDR2-667 PC 5300 will work.

    To make sure, Remove the bottom panel of the netbook with the little icon that looks like a memory chip. Write down the numbers, specifically for something that looks like SODIMM PC5300, or something similar.

    NewEgg.com sells 2GB SoDimm’s like these for about $35.00. If it doesn’t work, you should be able to send it back to them. Best of luck.

    Thanks,

    Rob

  5. Rob or Mirin: Can you please tell me how to remove the McAfee registry to maximize performance? This is on the Acer Aspire One ZA3.
    Thanks,
    Doug

    • Doug,

      To completely remove the McAfee program, simply go to your control panel – choose ADD and REMOVE programs, and scroll down to the McAfee virus scanner to uninstall it. It will take a while, so be patient.
      Make sure to use another virus scanner in its place. I recommend the free version of AVG. Thanks for writing, Good Luck.

      Rob

  6. I’ve implemented a User Ratings feature for the Acer Aspire One Netbook. Please take a moment to rate the product.

    Thanks,

    Rob

  7. i have this computer and i think its a piece of crap even though i use it everyday. i like the size an full keyboard but the computer is so damn slow. its pretty much only good for surfing the web and checking emails. when i watch videos on youtube or any other site, the processor is so slow that the video looks more like a slide show! thats the thing i hate about it the most! what good is a hd screen if its gonna be an hd slide show! haha

    i got mine at costco a couple years back for $300 and now i am looking for a macbook or a macbook pro since i film a lot of concerts n vids of me messsing around with my friends and would like to be able to edit the vids.

    my question to u is do u have a mac vs pc review? i’d like to know what u recommend and what the pros and cons of each is before i go n shell out over $1000 for a macbook.

    also do u know how i an get a macbook for cheaper than the retail price? my sister is a teacher and she said she can get me a educator discount but thats all i know of so far.

    thanks for the help.

    feel free to email me robrivera333@yahoo.com

  8. what is the max upgrade for ram and processor for my acer one az3

  9. Good question. My opinion is that screen size is only part of the netbook equation. Overall size, weight, battery life and wireless capabilities all count. The za3 Aspire one is a very small 11.6″ netbook. It is an inch thick, runs much cooler than any laptop and has no optical drive. The upshot of the bigger screen is the high resolution. All said, my thinking is that a netbook should not go beyond 12 inches.

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