Archive for December 10th, 2007

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Asus Eee PC 701 (quick) review

Introduction

The Asus Eee PC is a new product line for Asus which they hope will find a place for those people for whom a smartphone is too small and full laptop is too cumbersome. At first I was unsure as to who might actually purchase an Eee PC, would it be students, techies or business users? However, it looks like everyone is buying them, there is virtually no stock in the UK now!

Asus Eee PC 701

Asus Eee PC 701

What’s in the box?

The device itself, instruction book, installation CD, battery, power adaptor, er, that’s it. Take a look at Matt’s unboxing video for more.

Asus Eee PC 701 Specification:

  • Inter Celeron M 900mHz CPU
  • 7″ TFT display – 800 x 480 pixels
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB SSD storage
  • SD Card Slot (SDHC compatible)
  • Built in WiFi 802.11b/g
  • Ethernet connector
  • VGA socket for external monitor
  • 3 USB2 sockets
  • Linux pre-installed (Windows XP Compatible)
  • 0.92 kg
  • 4 Cell battery: 5200 mAh, 3.5hrs
  • General

    The Eee PC opens easily to reveal a small, but full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad mouse button.

    Eee PC Keyboard

    Eee PC Keyboard

    The screen is smaller than expected given the real estate available.

    The Ethernet port is located on the left hand side next to one of three USB ports and the audio lines In and Out. The other two are on the right hand side next to a SDHC card slot.

    Eee PC left side

    Eee PC left side

    Eee PC right side

    Eee PC right side

    The removable battery slots very smoothly in and out the spine of the unit and power cord plugs into the back. The power cord has no power pack as such but instead what looks like a large mobile phone charging plug.

    There’s also a built in webcam which you should be able to use for video conferencing.

    Eee PC webcam

    Eee PC webcam

    Highlights

  • Speed
  • Simple but powerful OS
  • Ease of networking
  • Lowlights

  • Screen size
  • Trackpad mouse button
  • Review

    It has to said that the keyboard, trackpad and mouse button does feel distincltively cheap, but that said the device IS cheap so you get what you pay for and given what you get on the inside it’s hard to grumble. That aside the only other disappointment was the screen size which, given the overall size of the device does feel a bit small. However a larger screen would no doubt to have added to the price and made it feel less economically attractive.

    The default installed OS is the Linux-based Eee PC version 1.0.1 but should you wish, it is possible to install Windows XP.

    The Eee PC is one of the easiet devices to get to grips with. By doing away with the traditional desktop metaphor and simply presenting the user with large icons divided up into common usage groups, it’s almost impossible for any user to go wrong.

    Connection to both wired and wireless networks was unbelievably quick and simple and made one wonder why Microsoft make it so difficult.

    Program are divided into six groups: Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings and Favourites.

    The Internet group provides shortcuts to Web Mail, Web, iGoogle, Messenger, Skype, Network, eBook, Google Docs, World Clock, Internet Radio and Wireless Networks.
    Web Mail provides shortcuts to Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL mail.
    Web launches version 2 of the excellent Mozilla Firefox browser. The messenger client, Pidgin provides connection to all major IM protocols including Gtalk and Jabber.
    Skype is an excellent default installation a works seamlessley.

    In the Work category shortcuts are provided to Accessories, Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Adobe PDF Reader, Mail, File Manager, Dictionary and Notes.
    Accessories include, Calculator, PIM and Screen Capture.
    The main productivity applications are all provided by the wonderful open source alternative to MS Office, OpenOffice.org.

    The Learn group rather excitingly gives shortcuts to Science, Language, Math (sic) and Paint.

    Play is where you’ll find Games, Music Player, Music Manager, Photo Manager, Video Manager, Web Cam and Sound Recorder. The usual selection of casual games are provided including, Solitaire, Tetris and Sudoku.

    The media player does exactly what it says on the tin supporting all the common file types while the media managers do leave quite a lot to be desired. Not really managers so much as glorified file explorers. however, if you download the right codecs you can even watch your DivX movies.

    Despite being able to record images and video using the built in web cam I found it impossible to get online video recorders to recognise it – although this could well be a defficiency in my technical abilities. There is said to be a new version of Skype on its way that will support the webcam for video calling.

    The Settings category provides a wide range of useful utilities including Anti Virus, Disk Utility, Diagnostic Tools and Voice Commands.

    The responsiveness and speed of the Eee PC is a joy and navigating around is very intuitive. It’s a device which you wouldn’t want to spend too much time using but for the short periods you do it exceeds expectations in almost every area.

    Having played with the device for a while I can start to see where/how it would be used. Students looking for an inexpensive, yet capable laptop should consider the Eee PC while business people on the go will love the portability and battery life.

    I think that in order to be a proper business tool you’d have to look to install Windows and some sort of office suite. Matt has been using his Eee PC for a few weeks and now has Windows XP and MS Office installed on his – he swears by it. Matt will be writing a follow up to this article at some point and will tell you all about his experiences with the Eee PC, in particularly, installing XP and other software.

    Conclusion

    All in all an excellent device for the money and highly recommended for reluctant technophobes and gadget feaks alike.

    The more you use the Asus Eee PC the more it makes sense, what started out for me as a gadget or a ‘toy’ has now become a useful tool and one that I do not wish to give up. Considering how light the Eee PC is and how common WiFi hot spots are becoming I think this will the standard for business UMPC’s for a while!

    Review by: Nick

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    Posted in: Reviews
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