Tuesday, November 30, 2010

AMD Athlon Neo II "Netbooks": Acer Aspire One 0721 and Asus Eee PC 1215T

How do we classify the Acer 721 and Asus 1215T? I am a bit hesitant to classify some of the larger netbooks in the market as netbooks. The 11.6" Acer Aspire One and 12.1" Asus Eee PC 1215T notebooks for instance are powered by a lower end single AMD processors. We are a reluctant to classify these laptops as netbooks.

Intel, who set the standards for what is a netbook, classifies a netbook as follows:

Basically, according to Intel's definition a netbook is a mobile computer with a physical keyboard powered by an Atom processor. For use, a netbook is designed to access the internet, play casual online games and play standard definition video. 

Acer Aspire One 721 specifications and performance. The Acer Aspire One 721 has the following specifications:

Quick Specs:
  • Screen: 11.6" HD 1366 x 768 (WXGA) 
  • Processor: AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz single core CPU
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon 4225 Graphics
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2 Memory
  • Storage: 250GB SATA Hard Drive
  • Optical drive: None
  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 8 x 1.0-1.1 inches
  • Battery: 6-cell (4400 mAH)
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs.
  • O.S.: Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit)
  • Price: Php24,900 

The Acer 721 comes in a variety of colors: black, silver, red and brown. The palm rest has a brushed aluminum finish, while the lid is made of plastic. Using an island style keyboard which is now standard on Acer's, it looks like Acer 10.1" netbooks. The keyboard is full-sized and easy enough to use. If it has one weak point it is the size of the touchpad. However, in order to keep the laptop flat, the battery slides deeper into the case, pushing the keyboard back a bit and hence the smaller touchpad.

It has all the usual connectivity options, but does not have Bluetooth.

Asus Eee PC 1215T specifications and performance. The Asus Eee PC 1215 has the following specifications:

Quick Specs:
  • Screen: 12.1" HD 1366 x 768 (WXGA) 
  • Processor: AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz single core CPU
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon 4225 Graphics
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2 Memory
  • Storage: 320GB SATA Hard Drive + 500GB Asus Webstorage
  • Optical drive: None
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 8 x 0.9-1.46 inches
  • Battery: 6-cell (5200 mAH)
  • Weight: 3lbs.
  • O.S.: DOS
  • Price: Php23,900

The Asus 1215T comes in two colors, black and silver. The brushed aluminum finish of the silver 1215T and the chiclet keyboard gives the Asus 1215T a very classy appearance and makes it appear more expensive than its Php23,900 price. However, as no operating system is installed, you would have to add another Php1,950 for Windows 7 Starter, or more if you want a higher end version of Windows. That puts the entire package at Php25,850. The Asus Eee PC 1215T has higher specifications than its Acer counterpart with a larger hard drive and Bluetooth connectivity, justifying its higher price.

My only complaints about the fit and finish is the glossy bezel around the screen which is prone to scratches and that the keypad does suffer from some degree of flex. But pretty much so does everything else at this price point.

AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz + ATTI 4225 performance. According to the PassMark Softwares CPU Benchmarks, the AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz single core CPU is a lot faster than a single core Intel Atom processor,  but a bit short of the performance of a dual core Intel Atom processor:
  • Intel Atom N475 @ 1.83GHz - 324 PassMark CPU Mark score
  • AMD Athlon II Neo K125 - 477 PassMark CPU Mark score
  • Intel Atom N550 @ 1.50GHz - 563 PassMark CPU Mark score
Yugatech Philippines, compared an AMD powered Asus 1215T with an Atom N550 (doal core) powered Asus 1215N using the Windows Experience Index, where the AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz single core CPU edged out the Intel Atom N550 by a hair. Liliputing claims the AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz blows away even the dual core Atoms. Let's leave this for a minute.

The integrated ATI Radeon 4225 mated with the AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7GHz can achieve smooth 1020P playback. With 1366 x 768 resolution screens, the Acer 721 and Asus 1215T can play HD content on their 720P screens. On the gaming side, a test conducted by Liliputing shows that the ATI Radeon 4225 is capable of a fair number of modern games.

With the capability to play HD content and do more than casual online gaming, it is our opinion that the Acer Aspire One 721 and Asus Eee PC 1215T are low end ultraportables and not a netbook.

Compared to my Asus Eee PC 1005HA single core Atom netbook, both the Acer 721 and Asus 1215T are significantly faster. I have no complaints performance-wise. Battery life is a different story. Surfing the net on WiFi, you can expect a battery life of three to four hours, which is rather disappointing by today's standards.  But to put things into perspective, two to three years ago, this would have been above par. 

Basically, the Acer Aspire One 721 and Asus Eee PC 1215T are compromise choices. Significantly more power than your typical  netbook, but with half the battery life. If you are willing to give up endurance for raw power, these may be good choices for you.

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