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.