Acer Aspire One 522 review
The AMD processor and screen resolution give it a massive advantage, but it desperately needs a bigger battery
With so many netbooks sporting very similar specifications, it takes something special to really stand out: a USB 3 port perhaps or, as in this case, a high-resolution screen. Unlike the vast majority of netbooks, Acer’s Aspire One 522 steps up from 1,024 x 600 to a much more usable 1,280 x 720, and the difference it makes to the user experience is remarkable.
It’s still a 10.1in display but it feels much larger, displaying a good chunk of a web page where lower resolutions often get little more than the main headline. The glossy panel isn’t anything special when it comes to colour reproduction or contrast levels, but the key strength is that it feels like a proper desktop, which is not something you generally feel when using a netbook.
You also get the benefit of AMD’s C-50 processor, whose integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics chip handles media tasks more comfortably than Intel's Atoms. It won’t have you tearing round the jungles of Crysis, but it can run mainstream games at several times the frame rate of Intel’s integrated graphics, and it played back high-quality YouTube and iPlayer streams and 1080p MKV files smoothly – with the bonus of an HDMI port to blow that up to living room size.
The Aspire 522 is exceedingly thin and light, weighing just 1.06kg, yet the build feels pretty sturdy. The flat-top keys avoid the miniaturisation that blights many netbooks, and the plastic lid feels strong enough to protect the panel in a bag. (Thankfully, it’s also available in colours other than sickly green.) There are three USB 2 ports and a card reader around the sides, and a 1.3-megapixel webcam sits above the screen.
If it all sounds like netbook perfection, there’s one large stumbling block that prevents us from fully endorsing the Aspire One 522. Presumably to keep costs manageable, Acer has opted for a puny 2,200mAh battery, which gave us just 4hrs 2mins of general browsing time. If it were a 15in laptop we’d barely let that pass, but it’s simply unacceptable in netbook terms, particularly with some rivals lasting ten hours.
It’s disappointing, as in most other ways the Aspire One 522 is ahead of the pack. The screen is a huge plus few netbooks can match, the processor and the graphics chip are as fast as netbooks currently offer, and the 250GB hard disk and port selection are fine for such a reasonable price. But that battery means we can only really recommend it in the unlikely event that you don’t intend to use your netbook on the move.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base International|
|Dimensions||259 x 185 x 27mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Motherboard chipset||AMD Fusion|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||1|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,280|
|Resolution screen vertical||720|
|Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD 6250|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk||Toshiba MK2565GSX|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Speaker location||Front edge|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||4hr 2min|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Starter 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partiion|