Netbooks were a rage couple of years back. Compact, portable, similar to a full-fledged notebook and most of all cheap. Now fast forward to this year, although the growth of netbooks has slowed down, there is still a market for the form factor for those who wants a decent computer experience on-the-go without spending too much. Acer’s eMachines eM350 netbook is a perfect example.
Before we talk about the netbook’s design, let me give you a brief about eMachines as a brand. Acer bought Gateway about 4 years back, which also included eMachines. Now a logical decision would’ve been to integrate the acquired brands with the parent one but Acer made a conscious decision to keep these brands as separate that targets different set of crowds.
This is the reason why there’s not even a small mention of Acer on the netbook. It’s good that Acer wants its brands to stand on its own but for the uninitiated, they can easily pass it thinking eMachines as an average brand and not produced by one of the biggest computer manufacturers in the world.
On the design front, the 10.1-inch eM350 comes in a non-glassy finish with plastic chassis, which may not be pleasing to the eye but has a sturdy build quality. The number of ports are limited but you’ll find a 2-in-1 memory card reader, couple of USB 2.0 ports, one VGA port, headphone and mic jacks, an Ethernet port and the charging slot.
As far as weight goes, the netbook weighs just 1.1kg making it very light and portable to carry around.
Our eM350 came in with Intel’s Atom N450 processor clocked at 1.66GHz, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a 250GB HDD. Now we know that we shouldn’t expect much from an entry-level netbook but the choice of operating system is where all the issues started. The netbook comes with Windows 7 Starter OS that literally took a toll on the limited power of the netbook.
Multitasking more than 2 apps looked like a herculean task for the netbook. Open a browser window and play video at the same time and you can feel a noticeable lag. The reason Acer went with Windows 7 could be a licensing issue between them and Microsoft but would have loved to see this netbook come with Windows XP option or even Linux.
On the upside, the chiclet keyboard is good to type on with a decent touchpad. However, the left and right clicks could’ve been made less stiff. The VGA webcam and the integrated mic works like a charm, making it a perfect device for a quick Skype video call.
Another criteria a user looks in a netbook is its battery life. Although a 6-cell battery sold separately can give up to 8 hours of continuous usage, the eM350 is packed with a 3-cell one, which unfortunately has a mediocre battery life. A full charge will run to max. 3.5-4 hours that is variable depending on the tasks you do.
To wrap this up, I would say eM350 has its share of flaws but if you’re one who just needs a netbook to check emails or do some light office work, eM350 won’t disappoint. Another plus is its sub-Rs. 14,000 price tag which makes it more lucrative.
Pros: Price, Portability
Cons: Feels underpowered, No other OS option