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Asus Eee PC

The Eee – a week later

It’s not difficult to get overexcited about a new product when you first buy it, especially if it’s been one you’ve been eyeing for months. Now that it’s been a week, and I’ve had time to use the Eee extensively and tweak it some, I can honestly say I’m happy with my purchase.

Are there things that still annoy me? Hell, yes! But for a product relatively new to the market (think iPods of 2003 or cell phones in 1999), it’s pretty solid. I have finally gotten used to the placement of the right Shift key, but the numeral 1 being so far to the left still throws me off. And, yes, the keys on the keyboard feel as cheap in construction as they did last week, but I’ve noticed that the Eee’s keyboard isn’t as susceptible to cat fur infestation as my old desktop computer’s keyboard was. Plus, for the non-keyboard part of the Eee, since our cat is mostly white and the Eee I bought is black, it’s very easy to notice right away any fur that drifts on to the screen or casing, and I can blow it away immediately.

Through extensive web browsing, I have finally come across some websites that require horizontal scrolling, which has prompted me to install Opera (which allows you to scale pages to fit the width of the screen). I may end up doing a little back and forth switching between Opera and Firefox.

I’ve also realized that I really don’t go out that much to coffee shops and such. It was handy having the Eee with me while I did laundry; but when I’m hanging out with friends, I don’t really need an internet appliance. Mainly, I just use it at home on the couch while watching TV, and it’s nice to have a computer that doesn’t take up so much space (my old desktop had a tower, separate speakers that needed to be plugged in, an external monitor, an external keyboard, and an external mouse). When we do end up traveling (if airlines’ flight prices go down), it will be nice not having to haul a huge 5″ laptop around.

This Eee will serve me well for a while, though it’ll be interesting to see what’s on the horizon for subnotebooks / “netbooks.” HP is supposed to have one coming out soon with a slightly bigger keyboard (with spill-proof keys) and a much bigger hard drive. I think Dell and Acer are supposed to have things in the works, too, to compete with the Eee. And Asus itself will be releasing a new version of the Eee soon, too (larger screen, higher resolution webcam, larger hard drive, more memory, higher price).

Categories
Asus Eee PC

Sum-up Review of the Eee PC 4 GB 701 Model

Even though I’m going to go over all the pros and cons of the Eee PC, the bottom line is that the product is worth getting if you want a cheap, portable internet appliance, and it’s not worth getting if you need a large-screened full-blown laptop.

What’s bad

  • The keyboard keys feel cheap.
  • The mouse button and Control key have to be pressed down hard to be acknowledged.
  • The placement of the right Shift key and numeral 1 key make touch-typing difficult for those used to a normal keyboard. The screen dimmer hotkey is too close to the hotkey that turns off the wireless connection.
  • Security is terrible—you can perform administrative tasks without password authentication; though, I guess Windows XP users won’t mind this.
  • Asus decided to use a Linux distribution called Xandros, which has very limited software repositories selection. If they had gone with Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, or one of the more popular distributions, it’d be a lot easier to install software without worrying about breaking your system.

What’s So-so

  • The battery life could be better. If you disable certain items in the BIOS (webcam, wired ethernet), dim the screen, and turn off the wireless, you can add a little more time, but the max you can expect is a little over a few hours.
  • Asus lies in their manual about whether you can use in other computers the memory stick that comes with the Eee. You can use it in other computers after you upgrade the RAM. That said, even though I feel good about having upgraded my RAM from 512 MB to 1 GB, my actual RAM use rarely goes above 400 MB.
  • Wireless connection is easy, but a little confusing. If you want to connect to a regular network (one you’ll use often), you’re supposed to connect through the Network icon. If you want to connect ad hoc to a wireless network (say, at a coffee shop), you’re supposed to connect through the Wireless Network icon. I don’t know how anyone would know this without experimentation or research.
  • Considering how much space the speakers take up (making the screen only 7″), the sound quality is only good and not excellent. Not being an audiophile, I don’t really need my sound to be excellent (not tinny is okay with me), but I feel as if good sound could still have been achieved with smaller speakers. There are two speakers on either side of the screen, and each is larger than a pack of chewing gum.

What’s good

  • The size is good. Yes, it’s small. It’s supposed to be small. That’s the whole point. Its small size is its appeal. It’s cute.
  • Although the screen is small (800×480 resolution), it’s usable, and has a high-quality display (and I lucked out by having no dead pixels—I’ve read some reviews from people who had one or two dead pixels).
  • It’s quick to set up and quick to boot up (less than 30 seconds).
  • The default simple interface is intuitive (apart from the Network / Wireless Network icon confusion) and would be suitable for all users, no matter what their computer backgrounds.
  • It comes with everything you expect from an internet appliance, and more! Windows and Mac users may not be used to this, but the Eee comes with not only an email client (Thunderbird), a web browser (Firefox), an instant messenging program (Pidgin), a music player (AmaroK), a sound recording program, but also Skype, an office suite (OpenOffice), Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Java, and much more. Although it’s difficult to add software, the software that comes with it should satisfy most users’ needs.
  • It’s easy to tweak. If you are a power user, the documentation on the web for tweaking the Eee is phenomenally extensive and easy to follow. Just go to EeeUser.com.

I’m on day three of using this and still loving it. My next entry will be on what tweaks I’ve done since I got it.