The Google operating system arrives on laptops
We looked at the Acer Aspire One D250 a few months ago – that model came with the Windows XP operating system.
Otherwise, the mini-notebook – or ‘netbook’ – computer is much the same as before. It has an Intel Atom N270 processor and 1GB of memory, both of which are powerful enough to cope easily with office and internet tasks, and there is a 160GB hard disk, which is enough for document storage as well as for some music, video and picture files.
Having the latest version of Windows on the computer is a big advantage – it’s smoother and cleaner than Windows XP, and while its predecessor Vista was power-hungry and slow, Windows 7 runs just as fast on this kind of computer as Windows XP did. The Starter edition that’s loaded onto the D250 is cut-down slightly from the full editions – it doesn’t include the fancier visual effects or the Windows Media Center application. It also can’t play DVDs but that’s not a problem here, as the netbook doesn’t have a DVD drive.
On starting the computer the user is given the option of starting either Windows 7 or Android (as separate operating systems, they can’t be used at the same time). If you select the Android option you’ll see what looks a lot like the display from an Android mobile phone – it has a clock in the middle, a few icons scattered around, and an arrow icon at the side.
Clicking the arrow brings up the main Android menu, which offers access to several applications such as the calendar (synchronised to your Google account) and media player. These worked well in practice, although there’s one major flaw, which is that the D250 doesn’t have a touch-sensitive screen. Instead, all communication with the computer is through the keyboard and mouse (a small touchpad is mounted below the keyboard). That’s fine for Windows, but Android is designed to be used with touch-screen phones and other devices and it loses something here when that’s not possible.
Having to drag the mouse over to the side of the screen to drag open the applications menu is much more of a hassle than simply sliding a finger would have been, for instance. A number of the other functions make less sense with a mouse than they do with touch-control.
The main advantage here of using Android, apart from the fact that it’s simpler and more slimmed-down than Windows, is speed: it starts and shuts down in a matter of seconds, making it very convenient. It can’t access the Android Market so it’s not possible to download new applications, and nor can it access files stored on the Windows partition, which means you’ll need to keep two copies of anything important, or store it on a USB memory key, though that’s a waste of the 160GB storage space.
Connectivity is good – there are three USB sockets, a memory card reader and access to wired and wireless networks. There’s also a 3G modem built-in – slip your Sim card in and you can access the internet over the mobile networks (bear in mind that unless you have a suitable talk plan this will be extremely expensive).
Otherwise, though, having Android on this computer doesn’t add much – the lack of a touchscreen and the Android Market prevents it from working to its full potential.
There’s a price premium of around £80 at the time of writing, which in our opinion isn’t worth it – go for the non-Android D250 instead.
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Having the Android operating system doesn’t add much to what’s already a decent computer, except for increasing the price Good points Good looking; lots of storage space; Android operating system loads quickly Bad points No touchscreen; Android doesn’t really add anything
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