It has been a while since I added a technology post, so here is one. Last night we got a new Asus Eee PC for Coco, a white model with XP loaded on it. While I don’t have the time to get into the PC at the moment, or the buying experience which is a story within itself. So far, after a night of updating and dinking I must admit I am really suprised and impressed with the micro PC and its preformance. Loading SP3 was fast and straightforward and getting it onto the home network was effortless as all I had to do was put in the security key and properties of network.
While small the PC is not full sized but for the most part it is as quick and capible of dealing with full sized computing needs and tasks without breaking a sweat. First impression is very good, and from me that is saying a lot. The PC is cheap (from $550 in the US to $650 outside the US) and for the intent of its use is very well built and designed. With a 6 cell battery the life is estimated at 6 to 8 hours, will be testing that later on of course. I have yet to do any through tests or use all the bells and whistles yet, but over the course of the next few weeks we will have time to check under the hood a bit more.
The micro lapop, actually it is the largest of the Asus micro line, has quite a lot packed in. Intel Atom super efficient CPU, 1GB RAM, 80GB HDD, 1.3MP camera/web cam, stereo microphone, SDHC MMC card reader slot, 3 USB 2.0 bays, 802.11n and Bluetooth wireless with Ethernet port, 10 inch wide screen, VGA out, 6 cell Li-io battery, just under 3 lbs, and a 110~220V power supply so we can use it here and in the US. The CPU is fast, it loads programs quickly, and there is pleanty of space for programs and multi media.
Now for the detractors. There is no internal drive, optic or floppy. To use a CD or DVD based program I will have to either; configure a network share on the home network and have 2 PCs running at the same time to transfer the files, or rip the program to a USB drive and load emulators or hack the intall code to allow it install from USB (this is more of an issue for games requiring the CD to run, easily cracked but not 100% ethical or legal). An external DVD/CD drive is cheap, they didn’t have any instock and having a R/W version is kind of silly as the PC will not be processing photos or videos and if it did I would utilize my USB external drives as they hold and backup all the pictures, video, and audio files we have. Next is the keyboard and touch pad. I love touch pads, but they are an aquired taste. The keyboard is of course small, but the right hand side keys are really small and crammed together. The pouch pad’s left and right buttons are hard to press and and don’t "feel" right. My wife will be using her wireless mouse so that is not a big issue. The screen has a rough matte finish, however the colors are good and it is bright. Lastly is the software we got with the PC. The US version comes with XP SP3, MS Works (I hate this version), Star Office, Skype, Live Messenger, IE7, and that is it. No bloat ware, which is great, but our version… An illegal copy of XP SP2, Office 2007 (most likely illegal too), some codec for playing cracked DVD and media files, IE 6 and an old version of Messenger. See anything missing? No Anti-virus or maintenance software. I downloaded AVG, Java Cool’s Spyware Blater, and Spy-bot Seek and Destroy 1.6 and installed them before allowing the PC on the network. After that I went to Windows, installed SP3, IE7, Live Messenger what ever version is the latest, Media Player 11, and all the security updates to help shore up the holes Microsoft leaves everywhere.
After all this, preformance seems about the same, things open super fast. Spy-bot Tea Timer and AVG are keeping the PC safe and I now have the firewall and auto updates enabled (XP now has a valid key and passed all authorization and validations needed) and the preformance is still quite impressive with little HDD space taken up. Coco took it for a test drive on the web and it preformed very well, no stability issues, lock up, or issues with multiple browser windows open or her opening web based multi-media. She seems pleased and at 1/2 the price of a bargin laptop or home PC and 1/3 the price of capible and good laptop it will serve well as an Internet, email, and light media style PC. It will also be a good first PC for Sophia as we can load it up with educational and learning software and teach her how to use a PC without too much worry as there is little she could do to break it, except for the obvious breaking the screen or droping it. I will report more on this when time allows.