While the gentlemen from Acer were busy dropping the Windows 7 bomb, they were also launching a bunch of computers too. We were all quite excited by the prospect of getting out hands on the Revo and the bigger Acer Aspire One but, for me, they were all overshadowed by the Timeline series that had remained under wraps.
They may not have the colour of a bright happy Dell but there’s something in the matte finish on their aluminium grey chassis that gives them a proud sense of style in the flesh. Take a look.
Yes, you heard right. Each of the 13.3″, 14.1″ and 15.6″ sizes starts at £549 and finishes somewhere in the seven hundreds if I’m not mistaken. They’re all around an inch thick, nice and light and highly recommended. Do watch out though. The 13-incher doesn’t come with an optical drive whereas the others have DVD burners. I’d feel pretty good about having one of these myself, particularly as there’s plenty of room to add up to 8GB of DDR3 and the option of a dedicated GPU.
The Timelines come loaded with Vista but Acer did make brief mention oo a new product for launch around the end of Q3 that will come with the option of a free Windows 7 upgrade if you buy it before 23rd October. That will be their All-in-One touchscreen machine, which’ll be Atom powered and come in 18.5″-23″ sizes. More on that one in the coming months no doubt but, fingers crossed, there’ll be some NVIDIA Ion action on that one too.
They did show us a demo of that graphics platform at work on the Acer Aspire Revo with its Atom chip and plethora of USB ports quite happily running a fps game at low graphics. It was as smooth as we’d been led to believe.
Last up, I finally got my hands on the bigger second generation of the fantastic Acer Aspire One netbook. This time it’s blessed with 11.6 inches of screen and a full size keyboard but somehow it’s lost a little of that style.
They’re out as of today and still running XP. Even if they’re not as pretty, you’ll never suffer from finger cramp again, you’ll have doubled the battery life and you even get Dolby Pro Logic sound thrown in too. Can’t say fairer than that.
Last week, the team behind Ubuntu released version 9.04, which has been named Jaunty Jackalope. It’s a great upgrade on 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, and it’s also the first Ubuntu release to come with a netbook remix.
As I’m the proud owner of the Acer Aspire One netbook, I thought I’d whack Jaunty on and see how it behaves. I’m impressed. The UI is clear and clean (although the default Ubuntu brown clashes rather with my machine’s blue chassis) and everything runs zippily. It’s most definitely an upgrade over the modified Linux distro that the netbook came with, with the only issue that I’ve run into being that you can’t hot-plug media cards into the reader, they need a reboot to work.
Just as a quick caveat, I did all the testing on an 8GB SSD Linux version of an Aspire One, with the prep work on a machine running Windows Vista. I’ve mentioned below some options for those with a mechanical hard drive, but the only thing I can guarantee is that everything below works for me. If you use a different netbook, you should be fine, but this guide is for the Aspire One.
Back up any files you want to keep before you start because this process will wipe your drive, and make sure you’ve got a restore disk for if you run into trouble. For info on how to create one, see the documentation that came with your Aspire One. We take no responsibility for any software or hardware problems you run into as a result of following this, or any other, guide.
What you’ll need
- Right, now that’s over with, let’s get started. Here’s what you’ll need to hand before you start, both software and hardware:
- An Aspire One, or another compatible netbook
- An empty flash drive with a 1GB or greater capacity. I used this 2GB Toshiba drive.
- The Ubuntu 9.04 netbook remix .IMG file (970MB)
- A disk imager tool, I used Win32 Image Writer.
- Once you’ve got all that together, about 45 minutes to an hour of your time
Preparing the USB disk
First of all, plug your USB drive into whatever computer you’re going to use to copy the install files across with. Probably the one that you’re reading these instructions on. Go into ‘My Computer’ and note what drive letter has been allocated to the USB disk.
Then start up Win32 Disk Imager, and click the “…” button, and navigate to wherever you saved the Ubuntu .IMG file. When you find it, select it and hit okay. Then, under ‘device’, select the drive letter for the USB, and hit ‘write’. Let it do its thing, it should take less than 5 minutes.
Preparing your Aspire One
On your Aspire One, make sure everything that you want to keep is backed up, because part of the process below involves wiping the drive of your netbook. Take off any data you want to keep and store it safely elsewhere.
Then power down the Aspire One and remove anything that’s plugged into it, like SD cards or USB peripherals. Keep the power cable in, though. Plug in the USB drive you’re using for the install, and power on.
Almost immediately, hit F12 when it prompts you to “Select boot order”. From the menu that appears, select the USB drive. It’ll prompt you to pick a language, so select your favourite. Then the USB drive will give you the option to try out Ubuntu without installing. Do that if you like, and when you’re ready to install properly, then reboot and get back to this menu.
The installation process
When you’re ready to take the plunge, hit “Install Ubuntu” on this menu. Give it a minute to load everything into the device’s memory. To start with, the progress bar will move between the left and right sides, but shortly after it’ll start filling up.
Pick a language again. Probably the same one as before, unless you’re feeling a little devil-may-care and you’re in the mood for an install in Suomi. Seriously though, pick English. Then hit ‘forward’ and select a timezone and city. Hit ‘forward’ again.
Pick the right keyboard layout for your machine. Test using the little box at the bottom, and check the ” and @ keys, which are swapped around on American keyboards. If all seems like it’s in order, then hit ‘forward’ again.
Disks and file systems
This is where things get a little tricky. If you finish and it won’t boot, then go back and double-check this section carefully. Now – you have options that depend on what kind of disk you’ve got.
If you have a traditional mechanical hard drive then you can pick between installing Ubuntu alongside your existing operating system or replacing it. If you’d like to do the former, then pick the first option in the list – install alongside an existing operating system, then click forward and skip straight to the next section, ignoring all the stuff about filesystems below.
If you’re using a mechanical drive and you’d like to replace your existing OS entirely, then click the second option – “Use the entire disk”. Make sure that the right disk is selected – not a USB drive or an SD card or anything. Be aware that this option will delete all data on that disk, then hit ‘forward’ and skip straight to the next section.
Lastly, if you have an SSD then you get an even more complex choice. You won’t have room to do anything except installing over the current operating system, so option one is out. However, you have a choice between installing the ext4, ext3 and ext2 filesystems.
Ext4 is known as a ‘journaling’ filesystem. It writes into a ‘journal’ whenever it modifies anything, so it’s much safer if you lose power suddenly and you want your files to be okay. Ext3 is also a ‘journaling’ filesystem but it’s older, so I don’t recommend its use over Ext4.
Ext2 doesn’t do any ‘journaling’ – so it uses far fewer read/writes. As an SSD wears out quicker than a regular hard drive, selecting Ext2 will make things run a smidge faster and increase your drive’s lifetime. As a result, though, files can corrupt if you suddenly lose power on your machine. Even if nothing corrupts, you’ll have to sit through an irritating file check every time you startup if you don’t power down properly.
It’s up to you – select Ext4 for a safer drive that wears out quicker, or Ext2 for a slightly faster drive that’ll last longer, but is more prone to errors if you lose power. If you’d like to read up more on the subject, then head to this forum post, or this wiki entry.
Once you’ve decided, click option three – “specify partitions manually”. Don’t be scared by the word ‘advanced’, if you understood what I just said, then you’ll be fine. You should have two drives in front of you, one big one marked “ext2”, and one smaller one marked “swap”.
Double-click the big “ext2” drive, and an ‘edit partition’ box should pop up. Select from the “Use as:” drop-down either “Ext2 file system” or “Ext4 file system”, depending on which you want (see above). Then tick the box marked ‘Format the partition’ and then select “/” as the mount point. Hit okay, then forward. That wasn’t too bad now, was it?
If you’ve got no idea what drive you’ve got, then just click the middle option – “Use the entire disk”.
Tough bit over. Type in your name, a username (all lowercase, please), a password and name of the computer. Choose whether you want it to prompt you for your password every time you start up or not. Then hit ‘forward’.
It’ll show you a summary screen for what it’s about to do. Scan it quickly and make sure it’s about to do what you’re expecting it to, then take a deep breath and hit ‘forward’.
Progress bars should appear. Go make a cup of tea. It took me about 20 minutes to install to an SSD, or it’ll be slightly longer for a mechanical drive. When it’s complete, choose the restart option, and remove the USB disk when it tells you to. The system will then reset.
Voila! Your installation is complete. You’ll find that Ubuntu boots a tiny bit slower than the default Linux OS, but it’ll be a bit faster than Windows. It’s slower than the default OS because it’s so full of good stuff.
Click around a bit – the left column shows categories of programs. The middle pane shows the programs that are in each category – click one to start it. Lastly, the right-hand pane will show you storage locations. Click one to load it.
Have a little fiddle around in the settings, too. There’s plenty of customisable stuff. Change the colour scheme away from the brown if you like, or turn off ‘tap-to-click’ on the trackpad. If you’d like to edit the menus, you can do that by clicking “Main Menu” in “Preferences”.
Congratulations on your Linux install! No command line shenanigans at all. Wasn’t it easy? Tell us how happy you are on Twitter by messaging @techdigest.
With the novelty of finger-cramping netbooks wearing off rapidly, Acer has updated their beautiful Aspire One with 11.6″ version complete with high-definition WXGA LED screen and 160GB HDD.
It’s powered by an Atom CPU and Mobile Intel US15W Express chipset but, despite the increase in screen size, is now just 1″ thick and will only weigh a little over 1kg leaving it nice and portable. The LED screen means there’ll be less of a power drain and now that Acer is offering a 6-cell as standard, they’re claiming up to 8 hours battery life. Nice work if you can get it.
No word on number of USBs etc but it does include LAN, VGA, an all-in-one card reader, multi-gesture touch pad and all your connections in the shape of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G. Dolby Pro Logic sound plus microphone and webcam rounds off what looks like an excellent contender for the next portable computer to own. The only choice remaining is whether you want it in white, dark blue, red or black.
What a difference an inch makes — or 1.2 to be more precise. It’s highly likely that Acer will phase out its 8.9-inch Aspire One in favour of the new 10.1-inch model just announced.
Weighing in at just over a kilo, the machine features a LED-backlit WSVGA display offering a 1,024 x 600 resolution, choice of Atom processors (945GSE Express or 82801GBM), up to 2GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive, card reader, webcam and Wi-Fi…
Okay, hold up. You know that netbook of yours? With the tiny screen, and CD drive? What you wanna do with that, right, is put a banging donk on it. And once you’ve finished, you might think about installing OS X.
Rob Beschizza over at BoingBoing Gadgets has put together an awesome compatibility chart of which bits work with which netbooks on OS X.
Of course, it goes without saying that you’re going to need a dodgy copy of OS X, and you’ll need to be pretty comfortable with using the command line, too. The best little machines for the job? The Dell Mini 9 and the MSI Wind.
Gosh – there’s lazy and then there’s this. Packard Bell are about to bring out a netbook. You can probably count on one hand the number of companies who *haven’t* brought one out lately. This modele, however, is almost identical to the Acer Aspire One A150X. Acer own Packard Bell. Sigh. They’ve just rebadged it…
Dan and I were the first people in the world yesterday to get hold of the Aspire One sub-notebook, which was announced on Tuesday. We used it for the majority of the day, and were deeply impressed with how ‘grown-up’ it was in comparison to the Eee.
Check it out in the video above, and if you’d like to get your fingerprints all over that glossy exterior, you’ll have to save up £199 for the Linux version, or £299 for the Windows XP version, which both launch in July….
Acer officially announced what we all suspected, that they had been readying a sub-notebook to compete with the Eee PC. The Aspire One, pictured, is an Intel Atom-based lappy with an 8.9-inch CrystalBrite LED backlit screen.
It’s not just a choice of 512MB or 1GB of RAM you have either, as Acer is kindly offering models with either Linpus Linux Lite or Windows XP, with the first OS packing 8GB of SSD and Windows giving the user 80GB of HDD space. Some things are best left to Acer to decide on however, so each model has a 0.3-megapixel CrystalEye webcam, 5-in1 card reader, Wi-Fi plus the option of integrated WiMAX or HSDPA connectivity.
Out on the 10th of July, the Linux…
Cor – hot on the heels of yesterday’s news about the Dell sub-notebook, and the 3K we just wrote about, Acer has jumped onto our radar with the rumour that they’re to release a Mini-Note, as pictured above.
Codenamed ‘Aspire One’ for now, it looks like it has an 8.9″ screen and runs on Windows XP SP3. It’s been spotted at the Computex show in Taipei, and whilst the information is hazier than a foggy morning, it looks like it’ll cost 299€, placing it in direct competition with ASUS’ Eee 900. Considering Acer…