My spouse has just left her employment. I am now fortunate enough to be supporting her full time - and that is nice. However, when she left the job, she left behind all of her technical apparatus as well. Obviously, her cell phone needs replacing - I’m still negotiating this buy with her. I’m trying to get her to just accept a 2nd hand iphone 3GS. (I want the iphone 4), but it really isn’t going well up to this point in time. I will keep you posted.

Now, not surprisingly there is her laptop. One of her complaints about her work laptop was its weight and bulk. Having to carry it across the city from meeting to meeting resulted in a very miserable evening for me, listening to her moaning about the pain in her back and shoulders. During the worst days, this would mean a tired out half hour for me massaging the affected areas. So, when she asked for a substitute, and knowing that she still travels a great deal, I suggested a Netbook. An Acer Aspire One. An incredibly attractive piece of kit in white. Let us go through the specifications:

Acer Aspire One 531 Perfect for mobile computing

10.1" Widescreen (1024x600)

Intel® Atom™ N270 1.6GHz CPU

160GB Hard Drive

Microsoft Windows 7 Starter

1GB DDR2 Memory

Built in Wi-Fi

Integrated Acer Crystal Eye VGA Webcam

3 x USB 2.0, RJ45 10/100, Mic Input, Headphone Output

Built in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g

Built in SD Card Reader

VGA Output

battery gives 7 hours mains free operation

12 Month Warranty

So, what’s good about it?

The battery lasts for quite a long time:

That is tremendous. The power source life goes for days, which makes this a truly mobile device. So, in a practical note, it is possible to slip it within your handbag (or the wife can) and not worry about bringing the power adaptor with you. A big plus point.

The physical size:

It’s small, portable and it is possible to bring it everywhere. My wife puts it in her handbag and takes it out along with her all the time. And she says she’s very happy with its weight being so light. So I do not have any more moaning.


When I bought it around 5 months ago, it had cost somewhere around £300. Which I thought was pretty reasonable. I think you can now get the same spec. machine for around £250.

What's bad about it?

It's underpowered:

To be very honest, it’s quite a stretch running Windows 7 in the netbook. It’s not only that it isn’t fast. It feels underpowered. You can not use a netbook in the same way as you use a laptop or PC. The principle thing you will probably notice is you will have to get much more disciplined. You’re not going to get away with opening multiple applications with several different browser tabs. It is a lot more linear. You are going to need to carry out tasks one at a time.

Now, while the missus does not really find this much of an issue, there's one point that really annoys her. It just doesn’t appear to have enough resources for running Skype efficiently. The camera within the netbook is fairly average anyway, but even when you might have closed all of the other applications, it sometimes does not have enough resources to run Skype. And then you discover yourself tinkering with the task manager to close down system processes to allow it to operate. This really is very frustrating, because, invariably I cannot be bothered. I may be watching Coach Trip or something equally riveting. I have stop watching my program to boot up my laptop and play with it to get her onto Skype so she will be able to talk to her parents and her sister, who live in Australia. A proper annoyance.

The screen:

For me, it is just a little too small. On facebook for instance, you will need to scroll up and down to locate the following and former image tabs. Slightly irritating. It's the vertical size of the screen that’s mainly annoying. Titles and headings seem to be slightly below the visible screen so you're constantly using the trackpad or keypad to read them. This actually makes surfing the web harder than on the smart phone. The iphone for example has more vertical space which means you scroll up and down less frequently.

The keyboard

Lastly, the keyboard. For myself, it’s just a little too small. The wife has smaller fingers than I do. And she also said that it took a few weeks to get familiar with it, but now she has no problem. Perhaps, I could get used to it after a few weeks too. But my fingers are like shovels and I kept finding that I hit 2 keys rather than one.

The shortage of the DVD drive:

'Obviously, it hasn’t got a DVD drive - it is a netbook!' I explained to my wife. However the wife says that she misses it because she likes to watch a DVD when she is in the train, or at least possess the option to watch a DVD. For myself this is not a significant drawback. You can obtain the film in a compressed format and stick it on a flash disk. But, she is not as interested in technology as I am. You simply can't please some people.

And therefore the conclusion:

Well, for what it is, you cannot really have a lot of complaints. It’s small and lightweight, and also the battery lasts a good time. My other half seems happy with it overall and that's who I bought it for after all. And if it was perfect, she would not have anything to complain about, so we probably wouldn't talk at all.... Personally, I wouldn’t buy a netbook again. I would probably buy a small laptop. Something that has a minimum of a 12" screen and appropriate CPU. It is my opinion the netbook is too slow and doesn’t multi task very nicely. The screen and keyboard are just a little too small. For surfing the net on the go, I think the iphone is perfectly adequate. Although I wouldn’t do serious surfing using the iphone, maybe just to look up things on IMDB for example, I probably would not wish to do any real surfing on the netbook either.

So what is the solution:

Employ a large man to lug around a full size laptop for you or, failing that, surely, it’s got to be a significant sized laptop with a minimum 12 inch screen and also a smartphone. Covers all bases.

This doesn't cover everything that is involved, but hopefully I have given you an insight in to what is involved. There are actually plenty of ebooks and such material that you can find around the internet. I always go to a company called computer repair london. They do not just repair computers, they also provide IT support too and they really are always helpfull should you get baffled on something technical.

Author's Bio: 

I have been heavily involved in the property business for over twenty years. My work ranges from gardening, electrics and diy. Gasically I can turn my hand to pretty much anything.