Feb 24, 2012

Tour the BlagOTron

As many of you know, in the fall I opened an IndieGoGo project called BlagOPets with the hope of collecting enough dough for a new laptop. While the campaign didn’t reach its goal, my awesome contributors were kind enough to put me within reach of a new low-cost computer, which I have christened The BlagOTron.

Since others helped me acquire the BlagOTron, I thought it would be nice to pay their help forward by writing a quick, mostly non-technical review of the machine I picked.

This is the Acer Aspire One 722 netbook, and it’s basically a new iteration of the Aspire One ZG5, which I’ve been using since 2009. Both are solid low-cost machines, but compared to its older incarnation, the BlagOTron is a god.

The 722 is larger, and its screen doesn’t feel crowded. It took weeks to get used to a more normal-sized keyboard after pounding away on the ZG5’s miniature one for years. The battery is good enough to last through a day at work, or to withstand a two-hour Google Hangout session – neither of which were within the ZG5’s reach, even in its prime. It also features some impressive specs.

I opted for the most expensive version of the 722, which comes with 4gb of memory and a 500GB hard drive. It’s a great deal, especially if you go the route I did and buy from Costco, whose price point is comparable to online after tax. In my product search, the laptops I found with slightly better specs cost at least $100 more than the 722.

It has Windows 7, which is pretty awesome; which is good, because its basically what you get if you buy a Windows machine today. (I’ve been using XP and Ubuntu for the last eight years.)

Between the expansive RAM and its AMD Radeon HD 6290 graphics card, The BlagOTron can handle many of the RAM-heavy and graphically intensive tools I use every day without hanging or skipping frames, which was a problem with the ZG5. It can even do some things I’d never, ever expect from a netbook.

I thought I’d install Portal 2 to see how badly it crashed, as a shared benchmark with my old machine (it gave an error message on the ZG5). To my surprise, it’s actually playable on the 722, even on the default graphics settings.

So, there you have it. If you have around $400 to spend on a laptop, I definitely recommend this machine.

I can’t thank the patrons of BlagOPets enough for helping me with this, by supporting a funny little side project. Thank you, BlagOPeeps. You are magnificent.

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