Acer Aspire One 751 Review, Specs

The Acer Aspire One 751 is the first 11.6-inch netbook, or mini-notebook as I like to call anything larger than 10-inch, to hit the market. The main issue with the 751 is the relatively slow Atom Z520 processor used. Is it fast enough? Not as fast as an ultrabook as it packs an Atom processor inside. Read this review to find out more about it.

Acer Aspire One 751 Review

There’s now the ASUS Eee PC 1101HA Seashell and the Gateway LT3100 series netbook on the 11.6-inch market now, and I will test the 1101HA in a few weeks to see how that compares to the 751 but for now lets take a good look at the 751.

Acer Aspire One 751 Specs

Memory, OS and battery specs are going to vary. Some models have Windows Vista Home Basic, some have 3-cell batteries. You want to get the XP models, not Vista Home Basic.

11.6” 1366 x 768 (16:9 Ratio) Glossy LED backlit Display (200 nits)
Atom Z520 (1.33GHz) Processor
Intel US15W Chipset + GMA 500 Graphics
1GB RAM (2GB max)
0.3MP Webcam
160GB HDD (2.5” SATA)
Stereo Speakers, Dolby Headphone
802.11b/g Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
6-Cell Battery (5200mAh, 54Wh)
5-in-1 Card Reader, 3x USB 2.0, 1x VGA, Audio Jacks, Kensington Lock, RJ45
284 x 198 x 25.4 mm Dimensions
1.37 kg / 3.0 lbs Weight (6-Cell battery weighs 325g)
Windows XP Home SP3
As with all other Acer ultrabooks and mini laptops there’s no recovery DVD, but there is a recovery partition on your HDD, so make a backup!

Layout
On the left: LAN port, power plug, 2x USB, audio and microphone head jacks. Labels on top of the chassis is a great touch. I don’t need to fumble around figuring out which audio jack is which.

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On the right: VGA out, Kensington lock, 1x USB and card reader.

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On the front: A switch for Bluetooth and one for Wi-Fi.

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On the back. You have your battery, which juts if you have a 6-cell battery. I find this rather ugly, but your opinion may differ. There’s a SIM card slot for 3G enabled models. Mine is a dummy since 3G models are not available in Japan. I don’t think they’re available in the US just yet either.

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Opening up the device: Power button on the top right, with LED status indicators next to it. One the screen bezel at the top is the webcam, with a microphone to the left of that.

 

Upgradability

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Excellent. Access panels for everything. You have access panels for the hard drive, RAM and Wireless card. Unfortunately, I’m unable to open them due to warranty stickers covering all the screws, which is pretty disgusting and shocking. (Japan only).

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I’m only able to open the Wireless card slot and it looks like there’s room for one more card.

Size and Weight
In terms of weight, if you’ve ever handled an ASUS Eee PC 1000H / HE / HA, then this is how the Acer Aspire One 751 pretty much weighs in terms of weight, though, with the 6-cell at least, it is heavier.

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Now, I am really surprised by the size of the Acer Aspire One 751. It has the same footprint as the 10 inch ASUS Eee PC 1000H with a 3-cell battery except the 751 is a tad wider. (there was a YouTube video comparing the two). The 751 is very thin, more so than the 1000H. The 751 has no trouble fitting into my 10-inch non-stretchable Zeroshock sleeve with some room to spare.

Also, if you take a look at the screen bezel it’s extremely thin especially at the sides which tells you Acer have tried to keep the 751 as small as possible. Power brick is small, but do you have a thick power cable which makes up most of the bulk.

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Keyboard

The 751 has a roomier keyboard than you would find on any 10-inch mini laptop and it is much easier to type on too. Nice to see the keyboard take up the full space on the chassis, with no wasted space.

No shrunk down keys, apart from the cursor keys. The keys are flattish and somewhat similar in style to the keyboards found on the HP Mini and Dell Mini netbooks.

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Though, tactile feedback wise it’s not the best keyboard and I feel like it’s lacking something. Maybe deeper key presses.. I’m not sure. I’ve seen some reviews mention flex in the keyboard, but have noticed very little and I absolutely hate keyboard flex, even just a little.

Overall, a very good improvement over any 10-inch netbook keyboard.

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Display

The 751 display is glossy and very bright. Just seems like any other netbook with a glossy display, really. I don’t notice anything different, except the HIGHER RESOLUTION. 1366 x 768 pixels on this 11.6” display.

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This makes the netbook a joy to use! I do get frustrated sometimes with the puny 1024×600 resolution you get on 10-inch netbooks. Also, the dot pitch is perfect and I don’t have to squint or lean in closely like you have to on 8.9-inch netbooks. It’s all very comfortable. This is one of the main reasons to get this mini-notebook.

I did wish the brightness could be lowered a little more at the lowest level for pitch dark rooms, but having a lamp on nearby helped alot in reducing eye strain.

Here are some pictures of Firefox webpages in normal and fullscreen mode (Hulu and Digg) on the display:

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Have a look below at how far the lid goes back:

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Touchpad and Buttons

I find the touchpad decently sized, after you max out the movement. Surface feels good and slick. Scrolling on the right edge is extremely responsive. The best I’ve used on a netbook. There are also pinch and swipe gestures which work okay, I wouldn’t say super responsive like with the scrolling though.
The button is a single rocker bar and is average for a netbook, a bit stiff and noisy but not ultra stiff like on the old Eee PC netbooks (1000H/901) that had the silver buttons. I haven’t had any problems with it.

Noise
Extremely quiet. Even in a quiet room. I can’t even recall ever hearing a fan, but checking right now, I see that it is fanless! No wonder. The cannot hear the buzz and clicking of the hard drive unless I put my ear against the keyboard. Excellent. The 751 joins of super quiet, fanless netbooks. Being fanless it does have me worried about heat though.

Heat
So, the 751 is fanless and I have noticed that the 751 gets extremely warm, dare I say, hot? The hottest netbook / mini-notebook I’ve laid my hands on. Even if the 751 is just left idling for a couple of hours the bottom gets very warm. Might be an issue if you are running the CPU at 100% for hours on end, though for most people I don’t see this as much of an issue, unless you place it on a bare lap where it will get uncomfortable. For me, I’d take fanless over a little heat anyday of the week.

Webcam and Microphone

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I made a business Skype call with audio only and the whole ordeal went smoothly. Oh boy, the microphone is one of the best I’ve used on a netbook and was extremely sensitive without picking up noise. This meant I didn’t have to put my mouth right up to the speaker and shout like I have to do on some other netbooks. Some netbooks have really poor microphones that will barely pick up anyone’s voice.

The webcam is also excellent, producing a great image even in low-light situations, which is pretty much my whole apartment even during the brightest of days.

Audio
I am really amazed by the sound quality on the 751, both the speakers and through the headphones, which is powered by DOLBY HEADPHONE technology.

The dolby headphone technology is kind of like an equalizer applied to the sound, like you’re listening to the sound in a hall or something. Usually I hate these kind of equalizers and never use them but here it works extremely well.

Speaker sound is excellent. This has the best sound quality I’ve heard on a netbook / mini-notebook, or at the very least joins the top rank in terms of sound quality. Excellent clarity and bass. The sound comes out of speakers on the bottom left and right sides, so placing it on a surface can reduce the volume ever so slightly and really helps to introduce more bass.

Battery Life

I have the 6-cell 5200mAh, 54Wh battery.

First I did some benchmark testing:

5/10 brightness, Wi-Fi OFF, Bluetooth OFF and Sound 50%
6:22 – Batter Eater Classic
6:19 – Battery Eater Classic (overclocked)
5:50 – Looped 480P movies

Then, actual real life usage:

5/10 Brightness, Wi-Fi ON, Sound 50%, Bluetooth OFF
6:03 – Web browsing mixed in with YouTube viewing. (Windows XP)

Overall, I think on most occasions you will get 5.5 – 6.5 hours out of the 6-cell battery, on a single charge, which is very good, though many hours behind netbooks with the best battery life. None of them are 11-inchers though.

Performance
Now, this is the big one. How does the Acer Aspire One 751 perform with the measly Atom Z520 processor? Note, I only had 1GB of RAM through the whole review. Windows 7 may become faster with 2GB of RAM. I don’t know.

For general use, performance is acceptable if slow. That is with Windows XP though. I find performance on Windows 7 to be a tad slower, but that is due to the graphical effects of the GUI, once you turn those off, it’s much more responsive. I keep Aero off, it’s just too slow even with the latest GMA500 graphics driver that was released this month (June). The latest driver in use, in Windows 7, is glitchy but usable. (Window redraw issues)

When opening up several programs at the same time or just in general trying to work with several programs at the same time, the Acer Aspire One 751 slows down to a crawl. You can really feel the slowless of the Atom Z520 processor on these occasions.

Windows XP performs the best in terms of performance.

Overall, I can get by with the Acer Aspire One 751’s performance, but only just. If I were on the market for another netbook / mini-notebook, I would be really hesitant to pick up another with the Atom Z520 processor, but given that these 11.6-inch mini-notebooks have a 1366×768 display makes the decision very difficult.

1080P HD Video
It’s great to know that the Poulsbo chipset can handle 1080P video and the Acer Aspire One 751 is no exception. It handles 720P video flawlessly and certain 1080P HD videos are a piece of cake. I will cover this in a how-to article shortly following this review (and I’ll link it here).

Overclocking
You can slightly boost the CPU frequency without having too much an impact on battery life. (see above battery life benchmarks). Following advice over on the AspireOneUser forums, I am able to overclock from the default 1330 MHz up to a stable 1449 MHz. I don’t perceive any improvement on speed though.

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Acer Aspire One 751 Review Summary

Pros
Plays 1080P HD video (certain files)
Good battery life at 5.5 – 6.5 hours.
Excellent sound quality
Large keyboard
Bright 1366 x 768 Display
Silent (Fanless – I’ve been told there’s a small fan in here)
Easily Upgradable
Cons
Gets very warm, maybe even hot.
Atom Z520 processor feels sluggish (outside of web browsing)
6-Cell Battery juts out, is ugly.
Linux unfriendly