The Bottom Line
- Faster Performance Than Intel Atom Based Netbooks
- Improved Graphics Ability With HD Video Playback Support
- Well Priced For Performance
- Battery Life Still Falls Short Of Atom Based Netbooks
- Too Much Preinstalled Software
- Keyboard Could Use More Space Between Keys
- AMD Athlon II Neo K125 Single Core Mobile Processor
- 1GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 10.1" WSVGA (1024x600) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- ATI Radeon HD 4225 Integrated Graphics Processor
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 10.2" x 7.5" x 1.1" @ 2.8 lbs.
- Windows 7 Starter, Works, McAfee Internet Security
Guide Review - Acer Aspire One 521-3530 10.1-inch Netbook PC
Aug 23 2010 - Acer decided to change things up with their Aspire One 521 netbook by using and AMD platform instead of the Intel Atom. Powering the unit is an AMD Athlon II Neo K125 single core processor. This is matched up with a single gigabyte of DDR3 memory rather than the DDR2 memory used by most. The net result is a netbook that definitely has more performance than can be found in your average model. In fact, it comes close to many consumer ultra low voltage laptops that use single core processors but at a much more reasonable price. Performance certainly can be improved by upgrading it to 2GB of memory which can easily be done via the bottom panel.
The other major change by using the AMD platform over the Intel one is the graphics. The biggest problem with Intel netbooks has been their lack of ability to playback HD video feeds. The Aspire One 521 uses the ATI Radeon HD 4225 integrated graphics processor that promises to handle HD video without the need of a secondary chip like some companies offer. In testing, the netbook was able to playback standard streams of 720p and 1080p just fine. YouTube videos at 1080p did have some stuttering which can be distracting though. Performance still isn't quite up to being possible for mobile gaming beyond basic casual games. Unlike the Intel based netbooks, this one also offers an HDMI output to hook it up to an HDTV or external monitor.
While the performance is certainly stronger than the average Intel netbook, this does impact battery life. The Aspire One 521 comes with a six-cell 4400mA battery which is slightly lower in capacity to many other six-cell battery packs. Acer suggests that this should last five and a half hours. In my streaming video playback test, the Aspire One 521 was able to run just short of four hours before going into standby mode. This is a good improvement for AMD's based netbook platform but it still falls well short of the class leading models from ASUS that can last nearly double this. It should generate close to Acer's estimates for more typical usage.
The external styling and design of the Aspire One 521 are very similar to those of Acer's previous 10-inch netbooks. This includes an all plastic design that is decent for its price but still lacks some durability of some other models. It uses the same flat isolated keyboard design that has very little spacing between the keys that can lead to frequent typing errors for those with larger fingers.
Pricing for the Aspire One 521 is a bit higher than Atom based netbooks. Consumers should expect to find them for around $340 compared to roughly $300 for an Intel based netbook. The price difference is well worth it for those looking for a bit more performance than the average netbook. It is also well priced when you consider than many CULV based laptops prices start around $500.