Acer Aspire 1551 11.6" Notebook Review

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Acer is a somewhat understated name in the notebook business, but even though they may not receive the sheer press that Apple, Alienware, Dell and HP do, they're still one of the world's prominent PC makers. Hanging amongst the top five in total PC output is no easy task, and the company's Aspire line has been quietly climbing the charts in popularity for some time now. The Aspire line in particular has become quite the hit, and if there's one company that has somewhat rivaled Asus in the netbook sector, it's Acer. 



As we have pointed out before, netbooks aren't what they used to be. These days, you're more likely to see a new netbook emerging with a near-$500 retail price than one with a near-$200 price point. We're partially blaming tablets. There are a number of sub-$300 tablets on the market and on the horizon (the $188 CherryPad comes to mind!), and that has allowed netbooks to up their position in the market place. Climbing up the ladder, so to speak. But this upward mobility has also allowed netbook makers to broaden their scope when it comes to internal configurations. With more latitude in pricing, you're seeing more interesting builds and configuration options. Acer's 1551-5448 is a great example of this.


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This 11.6" netbook really stretches the definition of a netbook. For one, it doesn't really have the look and feel of a traditional netbook. The "grid" texture on the top plate, the above average build quality and the enlarged keys on the keyboard just make it feel more like a robust ultraportable than a run-of-the-mill netbook. Of course, there's a $500 price tag to justify all of these upgrades. Let's look at what that gets you from an internal standpoint.

Acer 1551-5448 11.6" Notebook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • AMD Turion II Neo X2 K625 CPU (1.5GHz; dual-core with 1MB L2 cache)
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM 
  • 11.6" LCD (1366x768 resolution)
  • AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4225 GPU
  • 320GB (5400RPM) Seagate Momentus 5400.6 HDD
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • No optical drive
  • 0.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • VGA and HDMI Outputs
  • USB 2.0 x 3
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • SD / MMC / SDHC Multimedia Card Reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • 'Chiclet' Keyboard
  • Gesture-Enabled Alps Multi-Touch Trackpad
  • 3.1 Pounds (with 6-cell battery installed)
  • Removable 6-Cell (5200mAh) Li-ion Battery
  • "Up To 5 Hours" Claimed Battery Life
  • 11.2" (W) x 8.0" (D) x 1.1" (H) (Dimensions)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Price (MSRP): $499



Like we said, this doesn't feel much like a netbook. 4GB of RAM? A 64-bit operating system? HDMI and VGA outputs? A WXGA screen on just an 11.6" panel? All of these are unusual for the sector, but definitely welcome additions. We have generally had good experiences with AMD's chips on the netbook level, but the 1551 presents an entirely new opportunity to see how it stacks up against Intel's newest Atom CPUs. The price point here is identical to the one on Asus' new Eee PC 1215N, which just so happens to be dual-core Atom-powered, so we'll be comparing the two throughout.

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Acer has been using AMD Neo CPUs in their netbooks for a while now.  This one looks like an updated Acer Ferrari One netbook without the Ferrari trim.  A newer CPU and newer (and slower) GPU.  HDD range is the same, keyboard layout is the same, ram is the same, OS is the same.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking this thing.  It comes in about $200 less, while it should perform faster in everything but games.  Well worth the money.

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Yes, it's a decent machine. I tested it out as well. It does need a stronger GPU but Zacate is coming for that.

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And seeing as Acer is such an AMD fan in their netbooks, I'm betting their one of the first out the gate with a Zacate netbook Dave.

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Id' say you're probably right there, mh. :)

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The specs aren't bad, but why a HDD spinning at only 5400 rpm ?...

Henri

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Overall, it's a nice little PC.

As to the low battery life, it will only be a short time before you can buy double sized batteries on E-Bay for it. I got one for my HP laptop that was 1/3 the price of a regular one from HP and had twice the number of cells in it. The factory original battery had died, and not long after I recycled it, HP came out with a 'free battery replacement' program for my laptop. The 'double-stuff' battery works really well though.

BTW: The  3D-mark performance chart says 'lower scores are better', but maybe should read that higher scores are better.

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That's pretty standard for thin and light, lower cost machines these days, Infinity. I don't see how a 7200RPM drive would take cost up that much but I suppose, when you talk about notebook drives, where on the fly head parking is required to mitigate shock and vibe damage (and areal density is much lower), the cost model definitely scales up much quicker than desktop drives.

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Errr Dave, I think you mixed me and  mh up.

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Like the review... puts my X340 to shame in performance and battery life, but that's what happens over the course of a year. Also, these low end, <=$500 notebooks are perfect for students to use in class! (I can vouch for that)

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