In a market dominated by tablet PCs, netbooks still have a presence. And with AMD’s release of its Fusion APUs, netbooks have gained some oomph in terms of processing power. The Acer Aspire One AO722-0828 ($349.99 list at Costco) features a Fusion APU and rivals Intel’s Atom processors in performance. With a huge 500GB hard drive, HDMI port, and 4GB of memory, this netbook is loaded. However, it suffers from a relatively short battery life that may hinder users on the go.
The AO722-0828 has an Espresso Black chassis, with a glossy lid that features a ripple design. The system measures one inch thick only because it lacks an optical drive, whereas the Panasonic Toughbook CF-S10 ($2,449 list, 3.5 stars) measures 1.5-inch thick, due to the DVD-RW drive underneath the right palm rest. But the Panasonic CS10 manages to keep its weight down (2.96 pounds). The Aspire One AO722-0828 weighs 2.98 pounds, which still puts it on the lighter side for 11-inch netbooks: The HP Pavilion dm1z ($449 direct, 4.5 stars) weighs 3.4 pounds and the Lenovo IdeaPad S205 ($579.99 direct, 3.5) weighs 3.1 pounds.
The 11.6-inch widescreen has a standard 1,366-by-768 resolution. Its display provides ample screen real-estate to view a website in full-screenfar more comfortable then the cramped 10-inch, 1,024-by-600 screens found on many netbooks. The keyboard is slightly less than full-sized, but I was able to adjust easily to the change. Its chiclet keys were big and soft to type on, but I noticed a flexing in the keyboard that made the overall value of the netbook seem cheap. The touchpad feels smooth and provided a wonderful navigating experience. However, the unified mouse button might take some getting used to; it’s a little thin and can be stiff toward the middle.
The AO722-0828 has an HDMI video outputsomething not seen on most netbooksVGA analog video output, three USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet jack, headphone and mic jacks, and a media card reader (xD/SD/MMC). There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi. However, for mobile users who may require a more reliable connectivity option, the HP dm1z offers a 3G option. The AO722-0828 doesn’t come equipped with Bluetooth, a wireless feature that allows you to pair peripherals to the PC, but at this price point, and in the netbook category in general, Bluetooth isn’t a common option.
Its 500GB, 5,400rpm hard drive is huge compared with other netbooks, like the HP dm1z (which has a 320GB 7,200rpm drive) and Acer Aspire One 722-BZ480 ($329.99 list, 3.5 stars) (which has a 320GB 5,400rpm drive).
Costco also offers customers some added benefits. For example, whereas most vendors provide just a one-year warranty, Costco bumps that up to two years. It also offers Costco’s Concierge Services, which a free service to Costco members who purchase electronics at the store. The service gives you access to technicians to walk you system setup, product use, and for troubleshooting. Lastly, the store accepts returns within 90 days (which takes care of buyers’ remorse).
The AO722-0828′s AMD C-60 APU and 4GB of RAM helped it perform well in processor-intensive tasks, scoring 0.46 points in Cinebench R11.5. It was better than a slightly less powerful C-50 APU in the Acer 722-BZ480 (0.36), but fell short of E-350 APU in the Lenovo S205 (0.63) and HP dm1z (0.61).
The beauty of AMD’s Fusion APU is it contains the CPU and GPU on the same die, which means it blows Intel’s integrated graphics right out of the water. The AO722-0828′s AMD Radeon HD 6290 scored an unplayable 9.3 frames per second (fps) on Lost Planet 2 (DirectX 9) at 1,024-by-768 resolution, while the HP dm1z’s Radeon HD 6310 scored 12.6fps. You won’t be playing anything more advanced than Torchlight on this netbook, but it will help with certain video editing packages and future Web browsers.
Its 49Wh battery lasted 5 hours 41 minutes on our MobileMark 2007 test, which may last you through a cross-country flight, but there are better performers out there. The HP dm1z managed to last 7:08 with a 55Wh battery and Acer 722-BZ480 lasted 7:17 with a 40Wh battery.
The AO722-0828 is a well-performing netbook, and it’s hard to pass up such a sweet price tag. But if you need a netbook with better processing power and a battery that will get you through that flight and beyond, then I would recommend you check out the Editors’ Choice HP Pavilion dm1z.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Acer Aspire One AO722-0828
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