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Acer Aspire One ZG5 (Linux)

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Hardware

The Aspire One is the most similar to the ASUS Eee PC 901 of all the sub-$1000 ultraportables we've seen so far; it's only slightly bigger, but it has a solid-state drive (SSD) and an 8.9in screen with a native resolution of 1024x600. Two flavours of the One will be available – one with Linux, and, eventually, a Windows XP-based version – and you can also choose from one of five colours.

We looked at the Linux (Linpus) version for this review, which has an 8GB SSD and 512MB of DDR2 RAM accompanying its 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU. Straight out of the box, the Linpus interface boots up in around 20sec. It's easy to use and its desktop contains shortcuts to all of the unit's essential applications. Firefox and OpenOffice are installed, as is an instant messaging client that allows you to sign in to MSN, Yahoo, AIM and Google Talk accounts. The desktop is split up into four sections: Connect, Work, Fun and Files, so it's easy to navigate, but it doesn't allow for much advanced functionality. Unlike the Eee PC, it doesn't have any educational tools installed.

It's also a very limited operating system. To be able to install new programs, you'll have to change a few settings, and the forums at www.aspireoneuser.com are a great source of information on this. In saying that, Acer has designed this laptop primarily for the consumption of Internet media, social networking and word processing while you're on the go. Indeed, a 3G version of the One will be released in the near future, which will truly make the One an ideal device for staying connected while on the road.

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