So someone I know got this specific laptop and I had the opportunity to take it for a "test drive" today, though in the process I was installing office, chrome, etc. I'm just going to include the specs from Acer's website
-Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (64 bit)
-Intel® Core™ i5-470UM processor (3MB L3 cache, 1.33GHz GHz with Turbo Boost up to 1.86GHz, DDR3 800MHz, 18 W)
-4GB (2/2) DDR3 SDRAM
-640GB hard drive
-11.6" (1366 x 768 WXGA Acer CineCrystal™ LED-backlit TFT LCD
-Intel® HD Graphics with 128 MB of dedicated system memory
-802.11b/g/n WLAN, 10/100/1000 LAN
-3 USB 2.0 ports
-HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) with HDCP
What astounded me was that for roughly $700 (CAD) you could get all of that. In a way you could compare it to the macbook air (which I assume will still be faster because of the SSD), but when you look at the price, at least to me it seems quite competitive. It also sports a 8 hour battery life. How many of these ports does the macbook air have? Just note that I'm not trying to downplay the macbook air.
Now it's time to list some of things I had minor issues with. One was the keyboard, for some reason, the french keyboard is the "in" thing, and the thing I don't like about the french keyboard (other than the fact that it has random other symbols next to the letters) is that the left shift key is far shorter than the US/American keyboard. I have to move my pinky all the way to the left to press down on the shift key, which I think is cumbersome. Though the keyboard itself was pretty much full size, and it was alright to type on. As for the trackpad since the laptop is so small it was somewhat tiny. It was hard, at least for me, to move the cursor around the screen and click. The right and left click buttons were pretty much flush to the end of the laptop, which made them slightly harder to press, however. For long term usage I would prefer using some sort of external pointing device.
It also does not have bluetooth. This might be a deal-break for some but for me I don't find it to be as important. When I first got my macbook pro I was curious as to why manufacturers actually offer RF mice. After all, if a laptop has bluetooth built in, why would you want to plug in a receiver? After I got my first bluetooth mouse I found out why. For me it was just not as accurate or precise as a regular USB mouse, which I found to be quite disappointing. Though just to note part of the reason was due to horrible logitech software. Another much touted feature of bluetooth is the file transfer abilities. I tried it once just for fun, and during that time when I was figuring out how to get through the security protocols (such as passphrases etc.) I could have transferred it through a small USB drive. Plus, for some reason on windows it seems especially hard to do any file sharing through bluetooth. Especially since this laptop has three USB ports I wouldn't mind using one for either a USB or a receiver for a wireless mouse.
On the performance of the laptop, it runs very smoothly. The display is fairly good, for one of that size. For the battery life I haven't fully tried it out but as usual depends on usage. From what I see if it's light (no flash) browsing, or just editing a word document I would imagine that it can live up to the 8 hour standard, but when I had many tabs running on chrome, while installing different programs, when I was done it said I had 1:33 hours left (I did not check the percentage of the battery left). Note that this computer, like just about all ultraportables, doesn't come with a DVD drive.
I did try out the webcam, and it's of decent quality. Personally I think that the isight camera on macbooks/macbook pros is still better, but this webcam is still fairly good. One thing I liked about this laptop when I tried it was that even though it came with useless applications such as "acer games" only essential applications ran at startup, such as the trackpad application. I am not the kind of person who reinstalls windows 7 for a new computer just to get rid of that kind of software, so it comes as a pleasant surprise.
In conclusion, I think that the acer aspire laptop is surprisingly good given its form factor and price. It's very light (especially since it doesn't have a DVD drive), though it just a few quirks such as the french keyboard and unfortunately the trackpad as well. But with the addition of (if needed) an external DVD drive and an external mouse this laptop can be quite superb for a road warrior or for just anyone who likes to carry light but still have adequate computing power.
Edit: what's a review without a picture?