Wow… a product review from me? Normally, I wouldn’t do something like this, but this machine is so good, I had too.
The product is the ASUS Eee PC (Buy.com for $349.) This is a very small “sub notebook” computer. It is a solid state machine with no moving parts (well… almost, I think I heard a fan inside it.) The unit I purchased is the black 4 gigabyte unit. It came pre-installed with some variant of Linux on it, but also came with a DVD with Windows XP drivers, so I was able to upgrade.
Unpacking the unit was a breeze… no assembly required. Snap on the battery, plug in the power adapter. That’s it.
The size of the unit is, well, small. Very Small. For years, I’ve been using an Acer TravelMate C100 Tablet PC. This is much smaller than it. It’s also smaller than my old IBM Windows CE based WorkBook computer. That’s small. In fact, the keyboard is a little too small for my taste… but it’s a lot better than the old style CE based devices like the HP Jornada thing or the Phillips Velo1.
The instructions are top notch… in fact, they even include step by step instructions for not just installing Windows XP, but also for tuning XP to run efficiently on the device. I must say, that is a very nice touch.
Installing XP was just like the usual install process… slow. But, once installed, it worked flawlessly. I installed the drivers (exactly like the manual says) and again, flawless.
Now… with this small device, you have to ask… well how does it perform? Well… I have to say, it’s faster than my Acer C100! Running XP (Pro) on the device isn’t blazing, but it is quite acceptable. The built in wireless worked perfectly right out of the box. The only thing I would rather it have is BlueTooth connectivity. In fact, I really wish it had BlueTooth… do you hear that ASUS?
Now, as for the display… crystal clear, but too small. The screen resolution is 800 x 480. Huh? Why such an odd resolution? My guess, cost. The only using it is during web browsing… the pages get cut off. ASUS also included a driver that supports 800×600, but scrolling. It works, but to me is annoying. You can hook up an external display to it as well, and with XP, either use it as your primary display, a duplicate display or an extended desktop display. All three modes worked perfectly.
Boot up time is great. About 20 seconds from a cold boot. Standby startup and shutdown is instant. I have not tried Hibernate due to the disk space requirements of it. My machine is a 4 gig unit and with XP installed, Visual Web Developer Express, Visual C# Express, Expression Blend 2, Windows Media Player 11, all the Windows Update updates and IE tools (Flash, Silverlight, etc.) I have 1 gig free. The hibernate feature would want half that. Now, to clarify it, it does have external storage via an SD slot as well as 3 USB ports. I have a 2 gig SD card in the slot, which interestingly enough only reports itself as a 1 Gig card. (Haven’t figured out why.)
Overall, the ASUS Eee PC is very light weight, is built very nicely and has a very high quality feel to it. It’s easy to setup and use and has features that just work. It’s a miniture notebook that does exactly what it was designed to. I only ask for three things in the next version… BlueTooth, 800×600 (or 1024×768) and a bigger keyboard.
My score out of 10… 8.
Next steps for me… see if Vista will run on it. 😉 I was simply amazed that .NET 3.0 WPF worked as flawlessly as it did on it. Video animations, 3D, etc… it all works! Now I can do development on those long plane rides.