A couple of days with the Asus Eee

After a few days I must admit I am surprised with the speed and performance of the Eee.  At 2/3 the size of my wide screen PC and almost 2 pounds lighter it has the same speed CPU, same amount of RAM, and same size hard disk.  The new Intel Atom CPU is 1.6GHz and uses much less power giving off much less heat.  Performance wise there is not a large difference but it is a noticeable amount in opening programs.

In side by side views with my Toshiba M55 S139 it is easier to get an idea of the size of the screen and the key board.  While the Eee’s keyboard is close to full size they have shrunk all the right hand keys to the size of letter keys, making the right shift key a pain to find.  As I have large hands my error rate was pretty high.  Keyboard action feels nice and the reach of the keys is not too hard to get used to.  The touch pad is identical in size but the mouse buttons are hard to press and not very responsive.  The largest difference of course is the screen size.  A 10.1 inch verses a 14.1 inch screen is no comparison but the Asus screen is bright, the matte finish makes viewing at wide angles easy, and this little note book will not be used for games, movies, or things requiring lots of screen real estate.

With a much smaller foot print the Eee is much better for trips or taking a PC with you in the event you may want one, for downloading pictures just as you take them, a meeting with lots of dead time between, commuting on public transit and other times when you have time to kill and want to do something beyond the iPod or PSP thing.  With 802.11n/g/b and Bluetooth connectivity is pretty simple.  The screen includes a 1.3 mega pixel web cam and stereo microphones, but its quality is similar to that of my Motorola V3 cell phone, grainy.  Video is about 20 fps at best.  Video chat and taking pictures if really easy and straight forward, thanks to Asus software.

Speaking of software.  We bought the Eee at a Asus stand in the bottom of one of the malls close to my office.  That stand is permanent and they have been there longer then I have been working in the area.  The price was competitive with only online stores cheaper and not by more then $30, so we opted for a store so we can take it to a real person if anything goes wrong.  The Eee 1000H comes in 2 colors and 2 types.  High gloss black or white.  Black shows way too many finger prints, the white conceals finger prints and thus far does not attract dirt that much.  The two versions are separated only by operating system.  One is Linux, the other Windows XP Pro.  We got the XP version, this PC is for my wife of course and XP has matured into a fairly stable and reliable OS.

When we bought the PC the staff pulled out a USD backpack drive, a thumb drive and right out of the box they began building the software package, this made me a bit nervous.  The image was stable, decent but only included a video player, a zip file program, and some light weight version of Office 2007 standard.  After getting the PC home I did not see any Asus software so I went to the web and downloaded all the latest drivers, utilities, and other programs they had for this model.  It took half a day but the PC is now has all the factory software, updated BIOS, and drivers along with SP3 and and updated web software.  As the PC had no bloat ware applications I had to get anti-virus and spyware removers installed. 

Then the issue of not having an optical drive came in.  While my wife will not be doing hard core gaming on the PC we do enjoy playing Age of Empires and Star Craft together over the LAN.  To get these programs on the PC took a bit of extra steps.  The store was out of the cheaper USB DVD-Roms and wanted to sell us the higher priced DVD-CD-R/W drives, we passed.  I first tried to load ISO images onto a USB thumb drive but only got mixed results, and it was slower then I thought it should have been.  I ended up having to share my Toshiba’s optical drive over the network to speed thing up.  Alas, no CD drive makes getting the games to work an issue as they need the CD to run.  I loaded a virtual CD-Rom emulator and loaded the ISO images but again, mixed results.  I had to resort to cracked EXE files, at least Star Craft supplies them on their web site.  Everything tested fine and works like a charm.

Battery life did not meet the 6+ hours on the box, it was closer to 4.5 but this was running 2 USB thumb drives, a network share, internet downloads, and me constantly customizing the OS and program properties.  With "normal" use the batter should last over 5 hours, being a 6 cell that is much longer then even its own class rivals.  Performance wise the little PC stacks up and even edges out my nearly 2 year old Toshiba at 1/3 the price.  Is it a replacement for my PC needs, of course not.  I use my laptop for DVD watching, editing digital pictures and movies, gaming, burning optical discs, and reading news and magazines.  My laptop is 30% larger, heavier, and only leaves the apartment if I am going away for a week or longer.  The Asus is better suited for email, chat, web browsing, and downloading files so for the tasks it is designed for, it is far superior.  One word of caution, the screen is small after an hour or so there is eye strain and a sore neck from trying to get closer.  It is a great PC and a great bargain if you need a second PC but not the power of the full size models out there.

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One Response to A couple of days with the Asus Eee

  1. Hylic says:

    wow…so there is someone who would like to buy Eee pc…frankyl speaking, the thermal design of this pc is not bad. but the atom platform may not support massive programs even like 3d-mark…thats a shame…maybe just for internet, it\’s enough…    

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