29.3.08

Asus 4G eeePC Review

Alright, so a quick review. I've had this little guy a few days now and I've been fiddling with it as time allows.

Bought from NCIX.com for approximately $430 CDN (Including shipping and taxes)

I purchased Asus eeePC because I'm traveling to Europe this summer to do some studies, and didn't want to have to lug around my main laptop which is (in my opinion) too fragile to be carrying in a large backpack without special protection. Also, I'm planning on using this for classes in the fall as an alternative to the power-hog that my current laptop is.

Asus 4G eeePC
(click for full-size)

Asus 4G eeePC
(click for full-size)


Hardware:

Keyboard -
Ok, first you think you know how small this computer is, but you really don't until you have one sitting in front of you. It's tiny. I'm an average sized guy, and my hands are the same - I can [i]just[/i] fit my fingers onto the home row. I was able to take notes at a meeting this morning without too much trouble, though I'm still getting used to the location of a few keys - especially the number row - the 1 is at the very edge where the ~ key usually is, so my digits are frequently needing to be edited. Otherwise, things are laid out pretty nicely, just very small. If you've got big hands, you're going to be typing with three fingers on each hand, I think.

Screen -
The screen is also small. At first it's kind of shocking how small it is - the new version that PJ posted will probably be more than adequate screen-wise, but again the price will probably be equally larger. That being said, it's still quite usable. An 800x480 screen sounds really small, but it's surprisingly usable for surfing the web (at least the sites I visit), and running office programs. The issue I keep running into is that because I've set it up to run in KDE as opposed to the "easy" mode, the windows are frequently too large for the screen, leaving me tabbing, and hoping the selection ends up on the right button - this is especially annoying in Synaptic.

Touchpad
-
It's small, but you get used to it quickly.

Speakers -
They're laptop speakers... decent, but not something I'll use regularly - just plug in some headphones.

Battery life -
Great so far, I ran it all morning today for my meeting on battery and haven't run it out - that was 2.5 hours and it's still indicating 50% left when I just started it again. It was on standby for part of that, so who knows. I think the advertised 3.5 hours is probably attainable.

Video -
I haven't tried anything extensive, just Compiz (which looked great, but wasn't cooperating so I've turned it off again), and YouTube, but they seem to work alright. Oh, and I've tried a few 3d games (OpenGL, probably), and they seem to work smoothly. Hell, I've seen a video of a dude running Warcraft on one of these and it was pretty smooth as well.

Wireless -
Oddly, this laptop seems to get better wireless reception than my $1600 Acer Aspire... why that is, beats me, but it does.

size comparison
(click for full-size)


Software:
Apparently this is a highly customized version of Xandros 4.0 - By default it starts you with "Easy mode" which is a set of very large icons in tabbed menus - it's pretty enough, but there's no real desktop to work with, and I found it kind of irritating, so I quickly added a couple of repositories by following a link that someone posted in this thread, then installed KDE, because that's what I'm more used to with Linux.

That went pretty smoothly, and now it's a bit easier to customize - add software, etc. I've even set up Synergy so that I can have both of my laptops connected to my desktop computer at the same time and I can control them all from one mouse and full-sized keyboard. Geeky, but definitely worth it.

A special note: Through my experimenting in the last few days with different repositories, I've managed to hose the OS not once, but three times (using stuff from Debian repositories that it didn't like). If you like to toy around with stuff, make sure you create a restore USB key, or have an external drive to run the included DVD from. I've restored the OS three times now, and it takes about 20 minutes, which is pretty quick, and painless once you've created the USB key (a 1 gb stick will do the trick, despite what the manual seems to indicate).

That's about all I can think to review for the moment. If you folks have any questions about it, let me know!

3 comments:

Dave Duister said...

Guido you are such a Geeek

Anonymous said...

You can reposition windows by holding the Alt down, left mouse button in the window to move, slide the window, release both.

jr

KJ McLean said...

Oh my goodness that's cute. I'll take one in green.