The box says the model is Acer Aspire One HAPPY-N55DQgrgr and the local shops sell it as Acer Aspire One Happy AOD255-N551G25n. Either way it is light, cute, and in need of a decent operating system to replace both the Windows 7 Starter edition and the Android supplied on the disk. I will used the Ubuntu Netbook edition.
This page is a work in progress as I make the Happy One useful. The wireless connection does not work under Windows or Android and occasionally works under the Ubuntu netbook edition. The wired network connection works but at less than maximum speed.
Almost flat layout
There are times when you want a netbook or notebook to lay flat so you can use an external screen or projector over the top. The Happy One has no cable connections at the back to stop the screen from bending back. The Happy One lays almost flat, flat enough for most uses. Someone might break your Happy One trying to lay it completely flat so set up rooms yourself and protect your little netbook.
There are two almost identical Happy Ones with completely different batteries. My Happy One has a 6 cell lithium ion battery designed to store 48.8 watt hours when full. The battery display says my battery stores 46.9 watt hours when full. There is a slightly cheaper model with a slightly slower processor, a 160 GB disk, and a 3 cell battery. The current difference in cost is too small to put up with the smaller disk.
The hard disk is a Hitachi HTS545025B9A300 with a rotation speed of 5400 rpm, average for a netbook or a notebook.. A speed test returns an average read speed of 66.6 MegaBytes per second, with a minimum of 41.2 MB/s and a maximum of 87.7 MB/s. Reads from the memory cache reach 679.72 MB/s.
Replacing the hard disk with an SSD could deliver several times the speed of the supplied disk but a full speed SSD of equivalent size would more than double the cost. in Australia the cost of the built in disk is $50. A Seagate magnetic disk that is faster and double the capacity costs $77. Acer could supply the same netbook with double the capacity and faster access while keeping the cost under $400.
A 120 GB OCZ Vertex 2 is a fast SSD and currently costs $240 and would make the Acer 64% more expensive, while halving the capacity, if you upgraded. A 240 GB OCZ Vertex 2 currently costs $540, making the Acer 150% more expensive should you upgrade.
The combined cost of $918 for the 240 GB SSD equipped Acer starts to put you into the price range of a notebook with a large screen. The eternal tradeoff, speed, size, reliability, plus with SSD prices falling so fast, there is a great temptation to defer the upgrade another month.
The display is listed as 1024 * 600, something not mentioned anywhere on the packaging. The display dimensions are 222mm * 125mm.
Yes the low power Happy One has a hot spot. Not hot enough to require a fan. Not hot enough to burn through your jeans. Just hot enough to be uncomfortable on bare legs. The hot spot is the back left corner and it takes 20 minutes of hard use to build up the heat.
You want a wired network connection because wireless is slower and unreliable. The Happy One has a 1 GHz wired connection, not the 100 MHz rubbish used on some cheap junk.
You want a wireless network connection because it is more convenient and anything less than 802.11n is a waste of space. The Happy One has 802.11n. Ubuntu Linux 10.10 has a problem using the wireless as 802.11n and falls back to the slower 802.11g. Most cafes still use 802.11g. Many
broadband connections and Web sites are only just fast enough to serve data at 802.11g speeds. You will miss 802.11n most when you are copying files between computers on your home or office 802.11n network but not when you are visiting Web pages.
Some of the people working on Ubuntu say the problem is the Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000 chip. Some predict a working 802.11n in Ubuntu 11.4. Some other Linux distributions do not have the problem with the Centrino chip. The previous Ubuntu, 10.4, worked with this chip at 802.11n speeds then started to slow down after 8 or more hours of use. The developers of Ubuntu should have left it with the slowdown after 8 hours and a note to users to restart each day.
The first problem with power adaptors is often finding a power socket where the power adaptor can plug in. The Happy One has a brilliant narrow adaptor that fits between regular items on a standard power board and has a plug you can rotate to four positions to allow for the various orientations of a socket.
Your camera uses an SD memory card unless you are stuck with Fuji, Olympus, Sony, or an incredibly expensive professional camera. Modern cameras use SDHC. The Happy One is stuck with an old SD socket. I cannot copy my photographs direct from my Canon camera SDHC cards. This is one area where Acer has to update the hardware. While they are updating, they might as well go straight to SDXC, the generation after SDHC.
There is a built in microphone to work with the built in camera. There are sockets for external earphones and an external microphone. There are no internal speakers.
There are three USB 2.0 sockets, one more than most netbooks and one more than I use. When I do plug into a big desk system, it is usually through a hub with the keyboard, mouse, graphics tablet, CD drive, printer, scanner, and Spyder 3 connected into the hub.
One change needed in the future will be to upgrade at least one USB port to USB 3.0 for use with a fast external disk for backup. USB 2.0 can run up to 48 megabytes per second (480 megabits per second) while the internal disk can run up to twice that speed. USB 3.0 is many times faster than the fastest hard disk or solid state disk. The USB upgrade is nowhere near as important as the SD upgrade.
The Happy One has a 1.3Mb video camera at the top centre of the screen for showing your face to friends and customers. Some external add-on cameras have a higher resolution but few people have the broadband speed to connect at higher resolutions. I am happy that Acer spent their money on better wired and wireless speeds instead of fancy video cameras.
There is a VGA socket on one side for connection to a projector or external screen. The netbook is fast enough work with a larger format external screen and I will test it with various monitors. Most of my monitors have DVI and HDMI, not VGA. VGA to single channel DVI is possible because they are electrically the same. My larger screens need dual channel DVI to drive them at full resolution, something not possible from VGA. The results will be interesting.
The Happy One is supplied with Windows 7 Starter edition and Android pre-installed.
Windows 7 Starter edition
Brain dead. Almost every review of the Windows 7 Starter edition complains about something missing, often something that makes Windows 7 Starter edition useless for the person who purchased the computer supplied with the Windows 7 Starter edition. Many people have to upgrade or switch to something else. In my case I ran into three problems during the installation that remind me why I am switching most of my computers away from Windows.
First was the registration process. Windows has stupid registration processes that are different for every edition and release of Windows plus they often bite you when you have to reinstall outside office hours. You are safer with an operating system that does not require registration.
Next was the panic when I looked for the installation CD. There is none. I do not know what happens when you have to reinstall. I will have an installation CD for Ubuntu Linux when I switch the computer to Ubuntu and I will be relaxed knowing I can update/upgrade/reinstall at any time without restriction.
The last straw was trying to connect to my network. The computer has both wired and wireless connections. All I have to do is feed the computer's MAC address into the secure router and the computer will automatically connect securely at any time. Windows 7 Starter edition will not tell me the MAC address for either the wired or wireless hardware. At least it would not tell me in the normal way.
There are a lot of Web pages telling you how to get the MAC address from Windows 7 Starter edition. I went through all of them. The menus are different on the Windows 7 Starter edition on my computer. This appears to be common in recent releases of Windows. The menu levels and names are unstable.
You can use the run command, as shown in a lot of Web pages, but the display disappears, at least it does in every recent release of Windows that I have used.
Command Prompt. In the command prompt, type
Wireless LAN Adaptor Wireless Network Connection then
Physical Address. You will see an address similar to
00-26-C8-CA-DE-28. That is your MAC address. When you type the MAC address into your router, you can use upper or lower case and the dash,
-, might be typed as a colon,
There is over 30 gigabytes of disk missing when you use Windows. There appears to be a hidden partition with the Windows distribution on the hidden partition. The switch to Linux jumped the disk space up from 215 GB to 247 GB.
I switched from Windows to Android out of frustration. The Android on the Happy One is more brain dead than Windows 7 Starter edition.
I can understand why people choose Linux over Windows and the Apple branded Unix (OSX). On a mobile telephone (cell phone) there are serious reasons for using Android instead of other distributions of Linux. On my little netbook there appears to be zero advantages from using Android and several disadvantages. There are other distributions of Linux that work on netbooks and have none of the Android disadvantages.
Perhaps the Android installed by Acer on the Happy One is not representative of Android in general. The netbook has a proper keyboard instead of a touch screen and Android is really oriented to touch screens, giving Android no real advantages on netbooks.
Ubuntu is the world's most popular distribution of Linux and has an edition focused ion netbooks. I will try the Ubuntu Netbook edition.
Android is chewing up 4 GB of disk space in a funny download directory with no control over the downloads.
Ubuntu has several editions, one for the desktop, one for servers, one called the
alternative download that is the best of the desktop and server editions for power workstations, and a netbook edition, sometimes called the
netbook remix. I do not know what the differences are in the netbook edition other than using the new Unity user interface.
The Ubuntu site shows the Ubuntu 10.10 netbook edition with a new user interface named Unity. The icons are simpler. There is lots of
social network junk splattered over the screen. Hopefully you can delete the rubbish you do not use. One of the huge complaints about mobile phones is the junk placed on the phones by telephone companies and the enormous amount of time wasted deleting the junk. Life should be easier with Ubuntu because Ubuntu is designed to make customisation easier.
I download ubuntu-10.10-netbook-i386.iso and installed it. Yuk! Too many problems. Unity is not yet beta software, it is still alpha software. You cannot customise Unity the way you can customise the normal Ubuntu desktop.
You can delete applications but they are not removed from the menu. Apparently to delete an application you do not use, you first have to start the application then remove it from the menu then stop the application then delete it from the menu. There might be another way, where you drag an icon off the icon menu bar then delete the application, but that did not work when I tried it. For some applications none of the methods worked.
You cannot add applications to the menu. To add an application to the menu, you first start the application then you add it to the menu, but you cannot start the application until the application is added to the menu.
Incidentally the disk usage for the netbook edition is better than the Windows 7 Starter edition disk usage. Ubuntu uses all the disk. There is no hidden partition. Ubuntu allocates a 247 GB regular partition and a 3.1 GB swap partition on the 250 GB disk. The netbook edition created an Ext4 file system with 227 GB capacity after formatting and used only 3.1 GB, or 1.4%, of the space for the default application load.
I delete unused applications because they take up screen space. I deleted Evolution Mail and installed Thunderbird so I can move mail around from computer to computer. Empathy Internet Messaging is just wasting space, as is the Transmission BitTorrent Client, the Gwibber Social Client, and a bunch of games. After deleting the applications, I selected Applications then Computer Janitor and the Janitor selected 90 MB of unused files to delete, files that were used for something but not any more.
The inability to delete unused applications from Unity and add my preferred applications forced me back to the regular Ubuntu desktop edition.
Download ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso. You could put it on a USB memory device or a CD. A CD is easier to file with the slim user manual and guarantee document supplied with the Happy One. The Ubuntu 10.10 desktop edition used 3.2 GB, before optimisation, compared to the netbook edition using 3.1 GB.
See Ubuntu 10.10 after 5 months use for a longer term view of Ubuntu 10.10.
I installed the Ubuntu 10.10 desktop i386 (32 bit) version from CD using a USB CD drive. See Ubuntu 10.10 desktop install on a netbook for details of the Ubuntu desktop installation.
In Ubuntu you can run system tests to test Linux on your computer. Some of the tests are useful for testing hardware.
A dead pixel test showed no dead pixels. The dead pixel test tested with all red, all green, all blue, all white, and all black.
The wired network connection worked perfectly and the wireless connection was initially tested at the slower 802.11g instead of 802.11n because of a difference between the wireless chip and the current release of Ubuntu. When Ubuntu was updated and I experimented with settings, Ubuntu connected to several networks at their optimum speed.
A test of suspend and resume worked.
The Acer Aspire One AOD255-N551G25n is an excellent purchase at the current price, light enough to carry anywhere, cheap enough to be disposable if you have problems, and has fast network connections for easy use. The one current problem for me is the SD socket is SD instead of SDHC.