Acer Aspire AO722 Review

The Acer Aspire AO722 is an 11.6” screen laptop that carries the AMD C-60 dual core processor.  With a budget friendly price of $349 you might assume the Aspire One AO722 is a run-of-the-mill netbook with a predictably cheap build and uninspired design.  You’d be wrong however, the Acer AO722 has a lot going for it considering the low price – but it’s of course not all rainbows and butterflies.  Read on as we investigate more in this review.

Acer Aspire AO722

The specific model under review is the Acer AO722-0825 ($349.99 on Amazon.com), specs for this model are as follows:

  • Screen: 11.6" HD Widescreen CineCrystal LED-backlit Display
  • Processor: AMD Dual-Core C-60 Accelerated Processor (1.0GHz)
  • Memory: 4GB installed memory
  • Storage: 320GB hard drive
  • Ports and Slots: 3 USB 2.0 ports, Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader, headphone, microphone, HDMI, monitor out, Ethernet
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
  • Web Camera: Built-in 0.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • Battery: 6-cell Li-ion Battery (4400 mAh), up to 7-hours battery life
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Dimensions: 11.22" (W) x 7.91" (D) x 1" (H)
  • Weight: 3.21 lbs.
  • Warranty: 1 year limited warranty

Design and Aesthetics

The Acer A0722 is offered in an array of colors, though our model is a simple Espresso Black color that has a professional look, you can opt for a more colorful red, white, or blue as other options.   The lid has a unique design touch in the form of a ripple like that of a stone thrown into water.  It’s not just a paint touch either, you can actually feel the ripple as it’s embossed on the lid.  The lid is also glossy, which makes it shiny and pretty – but only if it’s clean, which is a challenge due to the fact it picks up fingerprints rather easily.

Aspire One AO722 lid

The inside area of the laptop has an all black finish.  Around the screen is a glossy bezel while the lower deck is a matte plastic – the screen area again picks up fingerprints like crazy, but the matte area does not.  The keyboard uses flat keys with an island style design, it fills out the entire area so there is no shrinkage of key size even though this is a small laptop.  The laptop is sloped and tapers from front to back.  All the edges and corners are rounded to avoid any sharpness.

Overall the look of the Aspire AO722 is pleasing, it’s clean looking and has a touch of design flare.

Build Quality

The Acer Aspire AO722 case is made of plastic, as you would expect at this price point.  There is definitely some flex and bending on the body due to the thinner type of plastics used.  The keyboard also suffers from flex, especially in the middle where it feels like a trampoline.  The plastic hinges supporting the screen are not as tight as they should be, leading to some screen wobble while you’re typing.  While the Aspire AO722 doesn’t feel as cheap as a $250 variety netbook from yester year, it’s not exactly impressive compared to the construction used in larger laptops.  You’ll need to be careful when carrying this and a sleeve or protective case of some sort is recommended.

Screen

The Acer A0722-0825 has an 11.6” screen with 1366 x 768 resolution.  That’s the same resolution you get on many 15” screen laptops, so you’ll actually be able to see quite a bit of real estate on the screen, images and text may even be considered small for those who have poor eyesight.

AO722 Screen

The screen has what Acer calls a CineCrystal finish, which means a glossy layer on top used to enhance color.  The screen actually has a yellow hue to it, whites don’t appear quite white but rather an off color yellow, this subdues the color pop the glossy finish is supposed to give.  In fact, the only thing the glossy screen really achieves is making the screen annoyingly reflective.  Add to that the fact the bezel around the screen reflects everything and you get a rather annoying mirror effect.

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IMG_0287 IMG_0288

While we’re happy with the screen resolution and crisp nature of the display, the poor color accuracy and glossy screen are a couple of real knocks.  Brightness was good at the top level, though certainly not bright enough for outdoor usage, the glossy screen would again prevent outdoor usage anyway (all you’d see is reflection of the sky).

Keyboard and Touchpad

Let’s get the bad out of the way — the keyboard suffers from some pretty serious flex and mushiness, especially in the middle where it feels like there’s little support underneath.  The keys are flat, feel rather cheap and don’t have good travel or feedback when pressed.  Anyone that’s a keyboard snob, like this reviewer who is used to using a high quality ThinkPad keyboard, will be sorely disappointed and need to get used to the Acer AO722 keyboard.

AO722 keyboard

Now for the good.  The keys are nearly all full sized despite the fact this is a small 11.6” laptop, this is because Acer extended the keyboard right up to the very edge of the sides.   The enter key on the right side is slightly shrunken, but is still large enough to easily hit.

The touchpad is a generous size, it offers various features such as two finger scrolling and pinch to zoom.  Most importantly, it’s easy to use to navigate the cursor across the screen.  The matte finish of the touchpad makes the surface textured and easy to feel and scroll across.  There’s a bar below the touchpad that acts as the left and right click button, click on the left side for a left click and right for right click.  Though the button is not separated physically or visually, it’s still easy enough to figure out the dividing line due to its size.

Performance

Most people looking at the specs for the Acer AO722 will wonder if the AMD C-60 processor it comes with is going to be a major drag in terms of performance.  The good news is that most people buying a netbook will only want it for surfing the web, watching some streaming movies and doing some light work – and with those basic tasks the AMD C-60 will provide ample performance.  You’ll have no problem watching Netflix HD movies and even streaming it to your big screen TV via HDMI.  However, if you had your heart set on lots of multi-tasking and doing a bunch of other stuff while streaming HD content, well you’ll be a little disappointed.  Despite the dual core nature of the AMD C-60 it has its limits.  You can’t do 10 things at once without seriously slowing the processor down.  Again, most people who focus on one task at a time and just have a few browser tabs open (not 30) will do just fine with the AMD C-60 and 4GB of RAM on board.  But for those who need to run a lot of background processes and run 3D rendering applications such as AutoCad, this is not for you.

As far as benchmarks go, on PCMark Vantage the Acer AO722 scored 1,598, that’s slower than the AMD E-300 series of Fusion processors but slightly faster than the Intel Atom processor that the Asus Eee PC series comes with.

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
Acer Aspire AO722 AMD C-60 1.0GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB HD 1,601 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dm1z AMD E-350 1.6GHz, 3GB RAM, 320GB HD 2,202 PCMarks
Asus Eee PC 1025C (Intel Atom N2600 1.60GHz, 1GB RAM, 320GB 5400RPM HD) 1,483 PCMarks
Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i5-2476M 1.60GHz, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 9,826 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 6,056 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM 5,901 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 5,285 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM 3,204 PCMarks

These benchmark scores demonstrate that a fully fledged laptop with an Intel Core i5 or i3 processor is the way to go for a main computer, but the Acer A0722 and its AMD C-60 can be a fine companion PC for on the go work, especially thanks to its long battery life…

Battery Life

One very important aspect of a small laptop designed to be portable is of course the battery life.  After all, if you plan on taking this laptop around campus or on a flight there’s a good chance outlets will be hard to come by or you just won’t want to hassle with plugging in.  Since the AMD C-60 is designed to sip power the news is rather good.  With the backlight dimmed to half brightness and wireless on the total battery life came to 6 hours and 45 minutes while performing such tasks as typing this review, surfing the web and watching streaming video.   Battery life will of course vary based on your usage, if you watch video the whole time with screen brightness all the way the battery will probably only last around 4 hours.  With a more conservative usage scenario you could probably get over 7 hours.

Input and Output Ports

The Aspire AO722 has the all important HDMI port that so many people care about, it’s important to have this port if you want to output video to a larger screen TV, just about any flat panel TV offers HDMI in these days.  There are no USB 3.0 ports, but you do get a total of three USB 2.0 ports.  In addition you a monitor out and Ethernet port.  Below are a couple of pictures of each side of the laptop showing which ports are where:

Left side: Ethernet, VGA Monitor out, USB 2.0, HDMI

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Right side: Media card reader, headphone jack, microphone jack, 2 USB 2.0 ports

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Conclusion

The Aspire One AO722 is going to be a fine portable laptop for those with basic needs and who are not demanding users and picky about features.  When you consider you can get this laptop for $349 or less, it was in fact on sale for $250 during Black Friday last year at Target, the AO722 is a bargain.  I’d buy this any day of the week over the Asus X101CH with Intel Atom processor we recently reviewed.  However, you can’t pay a cheap price and still get the best.  The keyboard and overall build quality are middling.  The screen color accuracy is off and the glossy finish on and around the screen is annoying.   The AMD C-60 processor will be fine for most basic computing needs, but it won’t hold up to demanding users.   Bottom line, if you need a small and light laptop with nearly 7-hours of battery life and are willing to make a few compromises, the Acer AO722 is certainly a model you should look closely at – it sure beats the $900+ price tag on Ultrabooks these days.

Pros

  • Great price of $349
  • Clean design, color options for flare
  • Great battery life of up to 7 hours
  • Light weight and portable
  • Decent performance given the price

Cons

  • Keyboard suffers from flexing and mushiness
  • Plastic case has some weak spots and flex
  • Glossy screen and bezel have annoying reflections
  • Lid picks up a lot of fingerprints

2 Responses to Acer Aspire AO722 Review

  1. Jonathan April 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    “You can do 10 things at once without seriously slowing the processor down.”
    Typo?

    Anyway, thanks for another great review! Ultimately, the merits and faults of this Acer seem completely unsurprising, but it’s good to read an opinion on it.

    Why did I never see a review for this laptop before? Acer’s take on the 11.6-inch big Netbook is very significant, given the fact that it’s the commodity laptop sitting in Walmart and Target, ready to be scooped up during Black Friday or other random doorbusters.

    Why no pictures of viewing angles?

    • Andrew Baxter April 12, 2012 at 2:39 am #

      doh! Thanks for catching the typo, definitely supposed to be “can’t” there, updated that. As you say, you get what you expect with the Acer AO722, but I’m sure for the non-discriminating laptop buyer all the faults can be overlooked if it fits the bill and doesn’t break the bank.

      Oh, and viewing angle images added, thanks for keeping me honest there as well. The viewing angles were predictable — poor on the vertical with about a 20 – 25 degree range before it became completely distorted, but acceptable viewing angles horizontally.

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