Although tablets are fast overtaking netbooks in terms of popularity, especially with the recent release of Apple's hallowed iPad 2, the humble netbook still has a lot to offer the average consumer. For one, the presence of a physical keyboard makes it infinitely superior for typing out lengthy emails and that half-finished novel.

The supply of netbooks is still going strong and we've seen some excellent models lately, such as the highly portable Toshiba NB520 and the feature-packed Asus Eee PC 1018P. However, one of the more interesting netbooks to come our way is Acer's Aspire One 522.

While the vast majority of these mini machines are powered by Intel's low-voltage Atom processors, Acer has broken convention by slotting one of AMD's latest chips into the Aspire One 522.

Rumored to combine effective performance with powerful integrated graphics, the AMD C-50 is a dual-core CPU that runs at just 1GHz. We were keen to churn it through our benchmark testing, to see how it holds up against the competition, but first things first: how does the Aspire One 522 look?

Our test model came with a bright lime-green design that covers the lid and the palmrest. It's certainly eye-catching, and while some people might think it gives the Aspire One 522 a sickly pea-vomit appearance, we appreciated the break from the standard white and black netbooks.

We've seen some chunky netbooks lately, such as the MSI Wind U160DX, but the Aspire One 522 has a slender chassis that slips into compact bags with ease. A weight of 1.1kg means even a child could lug it around all day.

The body may be slim and light but it's also sturdy, with a particularly solid lid that protects the display when you're hiking about. We couldn't find any flex in any part of the Aspire One 522's chassis.

Because of the compact chassis, usability can be a tricky thing to get right on a netbook. There's not much room for the keyboard, but Acer has done an admirable job of fitting a well-sized spread of keys across the entire width of the Aspire One 522.

The keys are perfectly flat, which won't suit all tastes, but we found we could comfortably touch-type for lengthy sessions. Anyone with chunky fingers is likely to struggle, though, especially with the typically tiny arrow keys. Always try before you buy if possible.

We also approve of the Aspire One 522's wide touchpad, which supports multi-touch gesturing for zooming in and out of web pages, rotating images and so on.