Unboxing the Acer Aspire One

I’ve been eying the Acer Aspire One for a while now, because it’s one of the few netbooks equipped with both a 9″ 1024×600 pixel screen and a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU that’s true to the original spirit of netbooks, i.e. affordable, small, light, SSD, Linux, and mod-friendly.

I learned from my experience with the Asus 701 (Eee) that the 7″ 800×480 pixel screen was too small and that the underclocked 900 MHz Celeron CPU was too lethargic. But I liked the sub-$400 price, sub-3 lbs weight and hack-appeal of the original Eee :)

I was disappointed with the HP 2133 (Mini-Note), because of the price, weight and the limited mod-appeal. Built-in Bluetooth was nice and the keyboard was fantastic, but the 9″ 1280×768 pixel screen was too good for my eyes (resolution-wise), the Via C7-M CPU was too inconsistent (performance-wise), and the 120 GB HD was overkill…

I’m really enjoying the Asus 901 (Eee), with its 9″ 1024×600 pixel screen, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 12 GB SSD, built-in Bluetooth, multitouch trackpad, and hack-friendly design – but the price is too high!

So today I picked up my Acer Aspire One – I got the A110 model in fabulous Sapphire Blue (512 MB RAM, 8 GB SSD, 3-cell battery, Limpus Linux). Take a look at the unboxing pictures.

I’m very impressed so far. The SSD uses a 40-pin ZIF connector compatible with most 1.8″ PATA hard drives, and there’s a missing mini PCIe connector and SIM holder on the motherboard for 3G. But first, I’ll be upgrading the RAM and adding internal Bluetooth.

It’s just so, so, so hack-elicious :)

Update: I’ve cracked it open, upgraded the RAM to 1.5 GB, and located an additional USB port and power on the motherboard for Bluetooth.

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23 Responses to Unboxing the Acer Aspire One

  1. Walgreens says:

    Damncakes! Since this thing was first announced, I’ve kinda ignored it, largely because of past experiences with less then friendly Acer brand lappys. But, an Atom based netbook for under 400? That’s worth noticing. Only thing is, how is the trackpad button placement? Does it bother you?

  2. Mixer says:

    I’m very interested in reading about your hdd conversion and the addition of bluetooth. Do you anticipate the new drive being as quick as the SSD as I’ve heard the SSD in the One is slow? I’m also concerned about the onboard RAM being soldered on to the motherboard. If it should fail after the warranty expires, I’m guessing the One will not function on the RAM in the additional 1Gb slot with the defective RAM still soldered on? If there is an easy fix for this potential issue, I would feel much more comfortable purchasing One of these. Thanks and look forward to your followup.

  3. whatever92 says:

    Hi tnkgrl,

    I’m currently trying to decide between the Aspire One and the Aus 901. I know there’s a fair bit of difference in price but given the choice – which do you think you would go for?

    thx!

  4. Mixer says:

    I think I partially answered my question with this comment I found at the following link

    http://www.fonerbooks.com/laptop18.htm

    “The last thing you want to see when you open up your laptop to try a memory swap is permanently installed RAM. That’s the deal with this Toshiba to the left, the 256 MB of factory installed RAM is in the form of DIP chips soldered to the mobo. There’s a SODIMM memory slot in the foreground which allows you to upgrade the memory capacity, but it’s usually not possible to bypass failed RAM on the mobo. In other words, if one of those chips fails, adding a SODIMM to the system won’t help unless there’s some way to inform the BIOS to ignore the soldered RAM.”

    I guess the remaining question would be, “Is there a way to change the BIOS to ignore the soldered RAM?”

  5. AnonymousCanuck says:

    @mixer

    There is no reason to worry about soldered on ram. The failure rate of ram chips is no worst then any of the other chips on the board.

  6. […] Welcome to part 1 of a multi-part post on moddng the Acer Aspire One! […]

  7. Red says:

    One wild idea: If the soldered RAM fails you simply cut it out, literally. If it acts as a slot, it will simply disappear from the system and the problem will be gone.
    This is just a guess though.

  8. Hey. I have a question about putting the keyboard back on. I can get the two black tabs on teh right pushed back in , but how to you get the one that is under all the plastic light stuff on the left hand side. Its really bugging me that the left side of the keyboard isn’t quite secure.

  9. tnkgrl says:

    @Mack, you posted this comment on the wrong place.

    All three tabs should click in place when you push on the keyboard during reassembly. The fact that one of the 3 tabs doesn’t click in place for you means that you either pushed the tab in too far, or broke the tab when you removed the keyboard. If you pushed the tab in too far you can pop it back out from behind, which requires dis-assembly.

  10. Hannes says:

    hi tnkgr!
    Thanx for the sharing of your knowedege. I was woundering, if a 8mm 1.8” hdd would fit as well. Would you think, there enough space?
    Have a nice time
    Hannes

  11. tnkgrl says:

    @Hannes, you posted this comment on the wrong place.

    5 mm drives fit without trimming the posts (although with the double-sided adhesive foam it’s a tight fit). 8 mm drives should fit after trimming the posts.

  12. vusi says:

    hey guys can u pls help me out,i wana purchace the acer aspire one bt would love to knw if it has a sim card slot on it.i wil be thankful if u can help me out

  13. Automan says:

    Hi tnkgrl,
    thanks for the teardown! it made upgrading my ram quite easy! One small change though, I have the Acer AOA 150-1777 with the 120Gb. SATA drive, the drive is mounted to the motherboard and you need to remove the daughterboard first to remove the motherboard assembly, thanks to your video it was easy!
    Have a great one!
    MORE mod’s please! I may be a nubie, but I like the mod’s!
    Later!

  14. Indra says:

    Hi there, I owned an Aspire One A110 as well, installed XP in it, however, I heard that the SSD don’t perform at its best when paired with XP, any chance of improvement after changing it to PATA? If it does matter that much, then the hack might be something worth to look at.

  15. Eddie says:

    RAM makes my poor wittle head hurt…. i scared of big bad RAM addon…. agh i hate having XP with 1 gig ram…. its useless…. thank you again microsoft for screwing people over with your stipulations for XP on super mobiles… damn bill gates’ black black non existent heart…. well tnkgrl, i guess ill be bookmarking your break down vid, and use it step by step when my 1 gig ram comes in…. i hope bill gates is happy, and who the heck decided “hey lets make it as time consuming and ridiculous as possible for people to add ram to their own system!”

  16. Mychal says:

    Hi tnkgirl! im getting my aspire one in the mail this week. I plan on moding my RAM, the bluetooth, and adding the 1.8″ PATA HD, as well as adding the 3g. I was wondering if you could add a detailed parts list for a newb like me, including the parts for the 3g. Thnx!

  17. Ryan says:

    Just jumping into lappy’s for the first time.
    I have an acer aspire 2010 with a bad mobo.
    What can I do to mak this bad ass!
    Or should I junk it? I am very electrical savoy and work with robotics on larger scales. Wanting to get into the neat stuff. Time to get dangeresque!

  18. Arthur says:

    This was totally cool. I have been computing since 1972. Your fluid hack just totally dwarfs me. My first hack was my C64 with a flash memory card so I didn’t have to boot my operating disk and keep switching it out of my 5 1/4 floppy all the time… LOL. I am a middle school media specialist and I make tutorials all the time, you do so very fluidly. Good job. I will be sure to bookmark you. I just bought the Aspire One with the HD. (Refurb) I couldn’t come up with a reason not to. $239
    Thanks again for the very good hack.

  19. Acapulco says:

    Is there any way of modding a laptop’s SSD in such a way that no one can take it out and use it on a different computer (objective is to protect the files) .. soldered SSDs are at most 8GB which is kinda small .. I wish to have an SSD that provides 32GB (preferably even 64GB)

    Any ideas?

  20. Mike says:

    Hi I installed a 60 gig HD and I have the os on a scandisk cruzer 1 gb, the bios sees it but I can not get it to boot. I have XP on the cruzer, copied from a dvd. What do I have to do to make a bootable device?

    Thanks in Advance, Mike

  21. Acer says:

    Acer Aspire One Sapphire Blue
    Spectacular! Super Pleased!
    I was worried about getting one as I have had a 12″ laptop and was not happy with screen size. But this screen is SO bright it does not even become a issue, not to mention the 1064×600 really makes it seem bigger!

    Another bonus, this baby runs 7.5 to 8 hours due to the 5800Amh 6 cell battery! Sweet. Very happy with that. I heard most were shipping with the 4400Amh 6 cell which gives your 5-6 hours. I can run this all day or two before recharge, very nice! I have to keep looking at battery indicator in dis-belief that the battery is still 75% or 50%, it just lasts forever!

    This is super portable obviously, and really how laptops SHOULD be. You can put on one leg, it doesn’t weigh you down when actually sitting in your lap which is nice. I have had many laptops over the years, screen sizes and this one wins hands down for price, and performance. The unit is strong heavy duty case, compared to some newer thin plastic laptops.

  22. MIchiel says:

    Hi TAnkGrl. awesome stuff you did to your AA1 A110

    I have one too.. though it croaked and I’m not able to get it back. Funny part is, it’s still alive…. Seems like the Bios hangs up, the moment it displays the F2 \ f12 screen, and then nothing…. just sits there…

    I’m able to catch it with the Pause-break key, just before it hangs, in this state I can activate things like cap-lock and num-lock and the LED’s show… then hit F2 or f12 or even the esc and it will almost go… but to no awail… just sit’s there…

    Even the Fn+esc trick is useless…

    Have you ever had this with yours??

    Regards
    Michiel

  23. Akber Jafferi says:

    Please put a photo showing the bottom and the 2 screws hidden under the rubber feet that need to be removed before you can remove the Palmrest, Thank you…

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