Acer Aspire One (ZG5) hands on experience

Hi everyone!

Got one of these little subnotebooks to my hands for a short period and here’s a small summary about it.

So far I’ve tried out the Linpus Linux preinstalled to the laptop very briefly, as it had to make way for Windows XP SP3. Yep, got that right and no, it was not pleasure. Pain would describe the experience more.

Biggest reason is the very slow SSD hard drive. It just isn’t even feasible with Windows. Not even if you try to use fast SD card on the storage expansion slot for swap. It’s quite easy to get devices work in XP, as Acer kindly provides drivers for the laptop.

So, that was covered fast. Then to the part that was more interesting for me personally. Xubuntu 8.04.1 in a very, very small laptop. I was a bit afraid how the keyboard would fit for me, as i’m almost two meters tall. So far, I’ve had at least decent experience with it.

Biggest problem with the laptop and Xubuntu is the wireless card. It won’t work “off the shelf” and little tweaking was needed. Installation instructions will be posted on a separate quide and I will also post a separate post about device technical spesifications and how I installed Xubuntu to it.

Everything else seems to work out of the box.

As the out of the box configuration has only 512Mb of memory, I did an memory upgrade also. Didn’t take any pictures though, so we’ll have to see if I come across dismantling the laptop again. Will take pictures then, I promise! Verbal instructions coming up in a separate post also.

After the upgrade, things seemed a bit faster, but that was when the XP was installed. Xubuntu was installed onto the laptop with the additional memory already in place.

Next things to try out include bluetooth connectivity to phone to gain mobile internet over GPRS/EDGE/3G and how well the battery lasts in usual work/everyday usage. Also thought to try out playing videos, I have some movies in MPEG4 H264 which should stress the video playback enough. More about those when I have some experience..

EDIT: Tried to get Bluetooth connectivity to phone and internet-access via that way, and was not too hard. Biggest part is to find out correct settings for your service provider and phone model. Rest is just finding out correct channel etc. (I think I need to dump a post about using BT and mobile phone as internet connectivity)

Also, video playback seems to work out fine, just remember to ditch Totem Movie Player and get VLC. Tried with MPEG4 H.264 clip. Still need to try out DVD-playback with DVD-drive connected to USB and .iso file from internal storage and external USB drive..

Battery life with 3cell version is weak. There’s few tweaks that should help out, just remember to keep backlight as low as your eyes can take..

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19 Responses to “Acer Aspire One (ZG5) hands on experience”

  1. Video X Drivers » Acer Aspire One (ZG5) hands on experience Says:

    [...] unknown: It’s quite easy to get devices work in XP, as Acer kindly provides drivers for the laptop. So, that was covered fast. Then to the part that was more interesting for me personally. Xubuntu 8.04.1 in a very, very small laptop. … [...]

  2. chandran Says:

    i want to know the price and is it possible to internet connection with web camera and main purpose is via internet talk with family in india . i am in malaysia . and what abt service
    tq

  3. cutec Says:

    Hey Chandran,

    Price varies, depending where you live and from where you purchase it. I’d estimate that you’ll need some 300USD for the purchase and additional RAM.

    Webcam and Skype should not be a problem, but I can’t confirm them to work under Linpus Linux Lite. Try (X)Ubuntu and you should be up and running pretty easily.

    Service/warranty is for one year, upgradeable to two or three years with moderate price. Highly recommended!

  4. craig wilson Says:

    Reading your post regarding windows xp on the Acer Aspire One ZG5. are you only able to install XP onto the Flash Drive or is it possible to install it onto an External USB Hard Drive ?
    I Did try it out and it says it is the Wrong type of partition on the hard drive.
    The hard drive was formatted using windows xp on a different computer prior to trying this install on the ZG5.
    has anyone idea what type of partition i need to create and if its even possible.
    Thanks.

  5. cutec Says:

    Craig,

    Didn’t even bother to try out WinXP installation to external disk, as it’s a serious pain with capital P.

    WinXP is not designed to be booted/ran from external drives, thus making the installation and using it hard, to say at least.

    Googling “windows on external drive” will give you few good starting directions.

    Hope this sheds even a bit of light to your quest. If you succeed, please throw a comment here?

  6. skynet Says:

    Hai…
    Just get Acer Aspire One ZG5(Linux) from my mom. But not intrested with linux OS. Just want to know if this model can upgrade to windows OS and big memory(hard disk and ram)?
    Confused this model can upgrade or Acer Aspire One ZG5 with windows OS and 120G hard disk was a different model?

  7. cutec Says:

    Well, if the model is A110 and you have 8GB SSD as hard disk, you can’t swap it to normal HDD as there’s not enough space. A150 (that Windows and HDD model) happens to be about 5mm thicker.

    Memory can be upgraded, but it’s quite tricky operation.

  8. Dolph Says:

    Hi,

    Just got an Acer AG5(Linux) but when I plug my external hard drives in to the little machine the Linux operating system can not read them. Is there anyway round it or are all of my external hard rives now redundant?

    Any assistance will be much appreciated!

  9. cutec Says:

    Hi Dolph

    You’d need to tell what filesystem (FAT32, NTFS, EXT2 or EXT3) those externa hard drives happen to incorporate and also if there’s any error messages plus what dmesg or system log tells.

    Without those, it’s next to impossible to find the solution to your problem.

  10. Mrt Says:

    Hello, I got a new ACER NoteBook and just thinking about replacing linux operating system with Windows XP. It is a little bit risky for me because I am not sure is everything will work out easily or not. I am not too expirienced with small laptops like this. It does not even have an optical drive so this is the first thing I need to think about. A bootable source, an external optical drive would do? If it does have good bios system. I am also not sure how to format linux, get rid of it because it does not let me to install other programs, thats the biggest problem about it. If you would encourage with the above I would appreciate. Thank you.

  11. cutec Says:

    Hi Mrt,

    Well, you can install Windows to the laptop, but if it happens to be the SSD version, meaning solid state disk instead of normal hard disk, I strongly discourage you.

    The point being that it’ll be slow. Very slow. It won’t be a problem if you have long temper ;)

    You can find all the drivers from Acer support site, I believe one of my posts concerning this laptop had the link..

    Installing is easiest with an external optical drive. The bios can handle it without problems.

    But, you should be able to install programs to the Linux distribution pretty easily. Follow this link: http://www.laptopmag.com/advice/how-to/aspire-one-apps.aspx

  12. Muamed Bangura Says:

    Helloe, my friend got the new Aspire One ZG5 (WinXP) based. But now thanks to a virus, the MCAfee that’s used isn’t helping at all, it just detects and deletes the infected and(or) system files !

    There are two partitions: one is 149 GB (single active drive, i.e. C) and the other 8GB is for the system drive. At first we wanted to see if we could hook up an external optical drive to start installing WinXP over again, but i remembered that if 8GB is kept aside, it must be used to sort of repair WinXP or at least install it over again, right?

    What do you advice we should do? And is it possible to hook up an external DVD writer to the lap top? Any suggestion on your part, will be of great help to us.

    Thanks, waiting for your reply.

  13. cutec Says:

    Hey,

    Few options:
    - Google around with the virus name and try to find removal quide
    - try to get updates for the McAfee client
    - recover the Windows installation with instructions in the user manual
    - Hook up external optical drive to usb-port and re-install from recovery disc

    Re-install is always quite an operation, and should be considered “the last measure”.

    Hopefully these little steps help out!
    cutec

  14. Curtis Says:

    I bought 5 aspire ones, for my kids, with the 8 gig SSD drive and 8 gig SDHC. Can I upgrade the memory from 1 gig of ram to 2 gigs? Can I change the 8 gig SSD drive? If i find a 16 or 32 gig SDHC card, will the notebook read it? Which aspire one is the best, the 120 HHD drive or the 8 SSD drive.

    Thanks,
    Curtis

    • cutec Says:

      Curtis,

      The max memory that aspire one can handle is 1,5gig, which means that you can’t get 2gigs of ram. SSD drive can be changed, but might be a bit of a challenge, will require tools and cutting plastic. SDHC cards do work on the laptop under ubuntu, but not “on the fly”, you need to have the card planted prior to boot. however, there’s some articles on the net describing how to “touch” the card reader to get cards working after boot-insertion..

      What comes to the difference(or which one is better) between the models, it’s more of what you need and can you stand the HDD version being thicker and using more battery to operate versus the slowness of the SSD drive.

  15. alexis from puerto rico Says:

    Hi everyone,
    I just bought an acer with an 8gb flash memory but i want to upgrade the whole computer using more ram and more hard disk so i can change it to windows. I already know how to do the work but I’m not sure about the hard disk, i don’t know if it can be replaced by a SATA 2.5″ with 160gb. Will it fit on the computer? do I need something else to make the change? (I’ve heard about an adapter). Many people encourage me to buy a new one with the 160gb already, but i dont want to because I alreaady have three computers and I only payed for this notebook a hundred dollars with only two months of use, and the memory and the disk only cost me 70 dollars both, and I do the work. So it is a 170 for a new laptop, I don’t think I will find a deal like that one again. Sorry people if I’m a little bit annoying, but I’ll appreciate even the smallest help you can give me. Thanks a lot.

    • cutec Says:

      Hi Alexis!

      Sorry for the late reply. The problem you’ll be facing is the free physical space inside the computer cover, or actually the lack of it. Reason behind this is that SSD version is 5mm slimmer than HDD version.

      The SSD board is very small, about half the height and half the overall size and is connected via flat cable without connector in the end –> no straight means of connecting usual SATA or IDE 2.5″ drives. You can get an 1.8″ HDD in with some drilling and grinding, just be careful you get the right model. Sorry I can’t remember was it ZIF or LIF, my guess is ZIF.

      Memory upgrade is tedious, if you haven’t played out with hardware and tools plus hacking your way into boxes not meant to be open, i’m not suggesting it right out. Google around to find out articles and information.

  16. Nico Says:

    Hello Cutec!

    I need two advices for the Aspire One ZG5 with 512 MB ram and 8 GB SSD.

    1) about hard disk: I was thinking about a 16, 32 or 64 GB 1.8″ SSD (MTron or Toshiba… or Samsung….), but I was unable to find info about its interface: what is, SATA or PATA??? Please help me!!!

    1bis) What do you mean with ZIF or LIF (in your last reply)????

    2) About RAM: what do you mean with “hacking”?? Is there a normal SoDimm slot that is hard to reach, or are you talking about soldering new chips???

    Thank you!

    Best regards.

    Nico.

    • cutec Says:

      Hey Nico,

      The connector on the SSD is equipped with ZIF adapter (ZIF as in Zero Insertion Force), not SATA or PATA as in normal 2.5″ HDD’s.

      ZIF I already mentioned above, LIF is Low Insertion Force. Difference between ZIF and LIF is in the design, ZIF is designed to be changed less than 5 times, LIF about 20 times before breakage is expected.

      RAM and hacking – The SODIMM slot is in the backside of motherboard when you look at the laptop from keyboard side and there’s no way changing the memory without dismantling the whole laptop (except display).

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