Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Asus Eee PC 4G: A Personal Review

I got my own Asus Eee PC two days ago.  The unit I got is the Galaxy Black 4Gb/512Mb model and here are my impressions of this sought-after machine:


Imagine an IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad and blast a shrink ray to it and you'll get the Galaxy Black Eee PC.  If not for its incredibly small footprint, the black Eee looks like any other run-of-the-mill notebook computer.  The Eee is solidly built, something one would expect from the same OEM manufacturer that makes the Apple MacBook and other portable Apple computers.

The Eee is equipped to get its owner online either through a wired connection through its Ethernet port or wireless through its wi-fi interface.  Its three USB ports allows it to be connected to various devices (printers, digital cameras, flashdrives, card readers, etc.) and its built-in SD/MMC card provides it with additional storage.  It also has a VGA port that allows the Eee to be connected to a full-sized monitor.  The Eee does not have a traditional hard disk.  Instead of the usual hard disk, the Eee is equipped with a solid-state disk (SSD) -- one of the things that makes this computer faster than "normal" computers.

The screen is 7" and supports 800 x 480 but if the Eee is connected to an external monitor, it can support standard screen resolutions.  The keyboard is also rather cramped and experienced touch typists may have a hard time maintaining their typing speed using its keyboard.  Its touchpad may also appear to be too small but it is quite usable in real-world use.



The particular model that I got was pre-loaded with a highly customized version of Xandros Linux.  However, first time user *may* not even know (or even care) what is the software running behind its simple UI.  The screen even looks a bit like an oversized PalmOS screen.  This aspect of the Eee PC has already been discussed to death on the 'net so I will no longer dwell too much on this.

The Eee PC already has a lot of bundled software making the need to instal more software unnecessary.  Out of the box, the Eee already has an office suite (OpenOffice.Org) that takes care of word processing, spreadsheets and even presentation.  It has a standalone mail client (Thunderbird), voip (Skype), eBook reader (FBreader), dictionary, personal information manager, a lot of educational software and a lot of games -- everything a casual user may need.  Installing additional software is not that easy for the uninitiated but not too hard if one has some experience using Linux.  With a little research, I was able to install my favorite browser, Flock and another browser, Opera.


Despite its rather anemic processor clock speed (900 Mhz), the Eee PC is a pretty fast machine.  It boots up within 15 seconds and most of the bundled applications runs fast without any problems.  The software running on the Eee is designed to be a no-brainer -- a single click on any of the icons will execute the program.  There is a pletora of shortcuts that makes the Eee an ideal laptop for the very young and the luddite who wants to try out using a computer.  Connecting to wireless networks is also easy and fast, making this an ideal Mobile Internet Device (MID).  Experienced users, however, may find its built-in UI a bit sluggish and may opt to activate its "Advanced Desktop Mode".  Under advanced desktop, the UI looks more like the usual Linux desktop but since its running Xandros, the interface is very much like the popular Windows interface.

Under the advanced desktop mode, more options becomes available that allows experienced users to tweak the look and feel of the Eee.  I personally prefer the advanced mode and has heavily customized the UI to fit my tastes.  Under the advanced mode, I reduced font sizes to so that more items can fit on its desktop.

Other Impressions:

As mentioned earlier, the small size of the Eee PC is both a blessing and a curse.  The extremely small size makes this machine a joy to bring around but its smallness has some disadvantages as well.  Its cramped keyboard makes typing a bit difficult, especially in the first few days of use.  Its small screen and screen resolution makes surfing the web a bit hard too -- nothing that can't be remedied with some tweaking of the web browser.

Since this machine is not running Linux, its users does not have to bother too much with viruses, spyware, worms and other malware.  The fact that it is running Linux *may* turn off some prospective users but the good news is that Windows XP can be installed in this baby (something I intend to do in the coming weeks).

Overall, the Eee PC is a very promising computer.  I see myself lugging this baby around more than my MacBook simply because it is more portable and I can do most of the tasks I do with my MacBook (web surfing, email, writing documents, etc).

Blogged with Flock


Rock-N-Rebel0 said...

i'm thinking of buying an Eee PC. i got $200 dollars and i'm on my way toward $100 more. but then i will only be able to buy the 2GB and i don't think that will work. I travel alot during the summer and this laptop will be such a pleasure to have. i'm looking around for an airplane & car charger for it. no luck yet though.

fu said...

Im thinking of buying a redfox wizbook. Is that a gd buy? Is it made in China/same manufacturer as this Eee PC?