Asus’ Eee PC 4G XP sub-notebook

Manufacturer Asus
Model Eee PC 4G XP
Price (Street) $400
Availability Now

Asus created a whole new class of budget sub-notebooks when it launched the Eee PC late last year. Since its launch, the Eee has been so popular that the likes of MSI, Gigabyte, HP, and even Dell are scrambling to come up with their own take on the formula. The formula, of course, combines relatively low-end hardware that’s fast enough for basic tasks with an ultra-portable sub-notebook form factor that’s much smaller than other budget notebooks. These systems come pre-loaded with Linux and free software to keep costs down, allowing Asus to sell the standard Eee PC 4G for only $400.

The marriage of true PC functionality with sub-notebook portability at an affordable price makes the Eee PC ideal for a wide range of applications and users. Many folks who have never even heard of alternative operating systems may be turned off by the Eee’s unfamiliar Linux OS, though. The device’s Xandros distribution is by no means difficult to use, and the bundled applications offer all the right functionality. But the alien environment does take some getting used to, especially if you want to be productive.

The vast majority of consumers have little experience outside the Windows world. While some may enjoy learning the ins and outs of a new operating system, I suspect that most would rather get rolling in a familiar environment. It seems Asus agrees, because the Eee PC is now available with Windows XP.

Getting Windows running on the Eee isn’t a particularly impressive achievement—the original was fully compatible with Windows XP, and Asus even provided the necessary drivers if you wanted to install the OS yourself. What makes this latest XP-powered Eee PC 4G special is the fact that it’s selling for the exact same price as the Linux version, so you’re essentially getting Windows for free. And we like free. Read on to see if XP makes the Eee PC better or if its budget hardware bogs down under the weight of a Windows OS.

An introduction to the Eee PC

Indulge me for a moment, because I’m going to kick things off by getting up on the soapbox. Even after our initial review of the Eee PC, some folks still don’t seem to get what makes this little sub-notebook such an, er, big deal. $400 for a budget notebook, they say, is nothing special.

And they’re right, sort of.

$400 isn’t new territory for budget notebooks, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can even find models with dual-core processors and gaming-friendly discrete graphics chips.

What most folks seem to be missing is that the Eee PC isn’t a notebook. It’s a sub-notebook, and the smaller form factor makes all the difference in the world.

The Eee PC measures just 225mm wide, 165mm deep, and up to 35mm thick (8.9″ x 6.5″ x 1.4″ if you prefer inches), which is very small indeed. That gives the device about the same footprint as a couple of CDs. (Kids, you’ll hear about this archaic music storage device in school one day. It’s how your parents listened to music, back when people used to actually pay for it. But I digress.)

So the Eee PC is quite small, then. Small enough that you don’t really need a laptop bag. The Eee PC will easily squeeze into smaller backpacks, purses, and even my CamelBak hydration pack. Asus ships the unit with a neoprene slip case, if you just want to tote it around on its own.

While you might be able to find a budget notebook in the Eee PC’s price range, there’s no way it’s going to compete with the Eee on size. Above, the Eee PC is pictured with a standard-aspect 14″ Dell. The Dell is smaller than the 15.4″ designs that dominate the budget notebook space, but it’s quite a bit bigger than the Eee PC. Weighing in between five and six pounds, the Dell is much heavier, too. The Eee PC weighs only 920 grams—less than two pounds—making it several times lighter than most budget notebooks.

A couple of extra pounds shouldn’t be a burden to carry around, at least not unless you have arms like the Olsen twins, so it’s the Eee PC’s diminutive dimensions that really make the difference. Try cracking open a 15″ notebook when crammed into steerage class on an airline as the passenger in front of you reclines their seat for a nap, and you’ll see there’s a very big difference between a full-sized laptop and a sub-notebook like the Eee PC. There’s really no sense in comparing the two, even if they’re competitive on price.

A budget hardware tour

The Eee PC’s sub-notebook form factor and budget price tag are really what makes the device appealing, but they also impose some limitations on the hardware under the hood.

With such little real estate available, the Eee PC naturally comes with a smaller screen than you get with full-sized notebooks. The wide-aspect screen measures just seven inches diagonally, with a display resolution of only 800×480—less than half the number of pixels available on a standard XGA panel with a 1024×768 resolution.

Screen size has always been a sore spot for the Eee PC, and its move to Windows doesn’t change the fact that 800×480 is a very low resolution, especially since most web pages (TR included) are designed for a minimum width of 1024 pixels. Fortunately, the screen itself is of decent quality, with brightness and colors that rival the screen on my 14″ Dell notebook.

Since the Eee’s screen is flanked by a couple of wide speaker panels and a 0.3-megapixel webcam up above, there’s actually room for a larger panel. Asus’ next-gen Eee PC will feature a larger 8.9″ display, but it’s not quite ready for prime time yet. To be fair, only one of the Eee PC knock-offs currently on the market has a larger screen; HP’s new 2133 Mini-Note PC features an 8.9″ 1280×768 display. The Mini-Note costs $500, though, and that’s $100 more than the Eee PC.

At least Asus will be able to grow the Eee PC’s screen without compromising the form factor. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the keyboard, which already stretches to the edges of the device. Even then, it’s still too cramped for fast, comfortable typing with my larger hands. Slender lady-digits might fare better, and I’m sure children would have no problem adapting to the smaller key size.

The Eee PC’s small keyboard is one of those things you just have to learn to live with. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s really not all that bad. You wouldn’t want to write a thesis on the Eee, but for banging out quick notes, forum posts, or emails, it’s more than adequate. Be prepared to see more typos, though. They’re impossible to avoid, although in my experience, far less common with the Eee’s keyboard than with the Blackberry-style thumb keyboards more common on smart phones, UMPCs, and Internet tablets.

While I’m griping about size, I should probably address the Eee PC’s trackpad. Like the rest of the device, it’s a little on the small side. The problem here isn’t that you need a lot of trackpad area to move the pointer around the Eee’s relatively small desktop, but that the right edge of the trackpad reserved for vertical scrolling is so narrow. You’re liable to spend a lot of time scrolling given the Eee’s low-resolution screen, and it would be much easier if the trackpad’s scroll bar were wider.

As you’ve no doubt realized by now, the Eee PC is really all about trade-offs and compromise. The compromises Asus had to make to bring this system down to the $400 range are perhaps no more apparent when we look at what the Eee PC has under the hood. An “Ultra Low Voltage” Celeron M 353 runs the show, and although the chip is designed to run at 900MHz, Asus underclocks it to just 630MHz in the Eee PC by lowering the front-side bus speed from 100 to 70MHz.

Intel’s 910GML covers chipset duties, packing an integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 900 that doesn’t nearly have enough horsepower for games but does just fine on the Windows desktop. On the storage front, XP-based Eee PC models all come with 4GB solid-state drives that, while slow, should be able to withstand more abuse than mechanical drives. The Eee also features a single memory slot that Asus populates with a 512MB DDR2-667 SO-DIMM. 512MB is what we’d call a functional minimum for Windows XP, and since the Eee PC’s limited horsepower and screen real estate don’t exactly encourage multitasking, it’s probably adequate for most folks. However, if you’re craving more RAM, you can unscrew an access door on the bottom of the system and swap in a 1GB or 2GB module of your own.

The Eee PC’s hardware payload isn’t exactly power-hungry—the processor alone has a TDP of just 5W, and that’s at its default 900MHz clock speed—so Asus can get away with equipping the system with a four-cell lithium-ion battery that offers 5,200 mAh of power. Battery life clocks in at around three hours if you’re fiddling around, or slightly less when video playback is involved. That’s not exceptional, but for a budget sub-notebook, it’s certainly reasonable.

With relatively modest hardware inside, the Eee doesn’t require that much cooling. A few vents dot the underside of the case, while a fan pushes air through a side exhaust port. When on, the fan is audible, but not annoying. It seems to come on more often when the Eee is plugged in and charging its battery, though.

Around the left side of the system are a USB port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a 10/100 Ethernet port. 802.11g connectivity is provided by an integrated Atheros AR5007EG Wi-Fi adapter that had no problems connecting to several wireless networks I tried.

Spinning the Eee PC to the right reveals two more USB ports and a VGA output. From here we can also see the beefy hinge that anchors the screen. Build quality is often an issue for budget notebooks, but it’s not a problem with the Eee PC. Asus has been building notebooks for years, and it shows. Despite an all-plastic body, the Eee feels sturdy, solid, and durable. That’s more than we can say for even some high-end sub-notebooks.

Also along the right edge of the system is the Eee PC’s SD slot. Popping in an SD card is the easiest way to bolster the system’s 4GB internal SSD, and although it’s probably not the fastest storage solution around, it’s a simple and inexpensive upgrade that even inexperienced users should be able to handle.

Asus actually bundles an A-Data Turbo 4GB SDHC card with a more expensive version of its Eee PC 4G XP that sells for $469. The card nicely doubles storage capacity while keeping the total cost below that of the $500 Eee PC 8G model, which comes with an 8GB SSD. However, you’re better off sticking with the standard Eee PC 4G XP and adding an SD card of your own. You can find A-Data’s Turbo 4GB SDHC online for around $20, and an 8GB model can be had for less than $30.

The $469 Eee PC XP bundle also includes an Asus-branded mini optical wheel mouse. The mouse is a nice little addition, particularly because it would be silly to lug around a full-sized mouse with a sub-notebook like the Eee. I don’t think it justifies the bundle’s $70 price premium, though.

Welcome back to Windows

So the Eee PC 4G XP is, at least as far as the hardware goes, identical to the original Linux-based 4G. Windows XP is what’s new here, and for those comfortable with the OS, it’s a revelation. Linux may be a fully capable desktop operating system with a rich library of free applications, and it may even be a better fit for modest hardware. I prefer the Eee PC with Windows simply because it’s a familiar environment.

For me, the Eee PC’s biggest strength is that it’s an honest-to-goodness PC rather than a simple web tablet or Internet appliance. Being able to run the same operating system—and more importantly the same applications—as on my desktop and full-sized laptop is a huge plus for me. There’s no learning curve associated with Windows XP, so you’re up to speed on the Eee PC within minutes of getting it out of the box. Tweak the user interface to match your personal preferences, add any extra applications, and you’re ready to go. If I can appreciate that level of convenience as an enthusiast who doesn’t mind fiddling with Linux every now and then, imagine what a difference it makes for users who have never seen Linux before.

The Eee PC 4G XP comes with Windows XP Home Edition pre-installed, complete with Service Pack 2. XP wasn’t designed for systems with such a low display resolution, and the OS pops up a warning suggesting that you bump up the resolution to 800×600. The higher resolution works well enough if you don’t mind having to scroll around your desktop, but we’d just as soon ignore XP’s warnings and simply work around the few operating system dialog boxes that aren’t easily accommodated by the standard 800×480 resolution.

Dialog boxes that don’t quite fit on-screen are really a minor issue when compared with how little desktop real estate is available to applications. With a standard Internet Explorer and OS configuration, there isn’t much room for web browsing. However, it’s easy to make the most of what few pixels are available.

Set XP to auto-hide the Windows task bar and trim unnecessary tool bars, and you can fit quite a lot onto the Eee’s screen. If you’re going to be doing a lot of web surfing, setting your browser to full-screen mode will free up even more real estate.

When dialed in just right, the Eee PC is a surprisingly potent web browser. Having a real keyboard at your fingertips is a huge plus, as well, since browsing these days tends to be a more interactive experience than simply pointing and clicking.

Of course, there’s more to the Eee PC than web browsing. Windows Media Player 10 is included, which puts you a codec pack away from having a very sweet multimedia playback device. Forget portable DVD players; the Eee PC can handle DivX, Xvid, and just about anything else you might find on BitTorrent, er, I mean rip from your own personal DVD collection.

Fresh out of the box, the Eee’s SSD reports that 1.33GB of its 3.7GB formatted capacity are free, so if you’re planning to bring a media library around with you, a high-capacity SD card is definitely a necessity. But before you go crying Windows bloat, keep in mind that the Linux-based Eee PC ships with about as much free space.

Windows isn’t the only thing taking up space on the Eee PC’s solid-state drive, either. Asus ships the device with a number of applications, including the Microsoft Works and Windows Live application suites. Adobe Reader 7 is included, as well.

Having a basic office suite combined with Live’s instant messaging and photo gallery software gives the Eee PC a little of everything for those who don’t want to fuss around with the default configuration. If you want to tweak, these programs can easily be uninstalled to trim the fat or replaced with ones that you prefer.

But what about the bloat?

I’ve used both Linux and Windows flavors of the Eee PC and can say with confidence that performance between them is comparable. Neither is particularly fast, of course, but for web surfing, multimedia playback, and basic office applications, I’d call both fast enough. Or at least as fast as I would expect from a system with such limited horsepower.

There is a bit of a learning curve associated with the Eee PC’s performance, though. Unlike a modern desktop PC, where everything seems to happen instantly, you have to give the Eee PC a second, particularly when loading applications. Having to pause every now and then isn’t a great inconvenience, but it helps to adjust your expectations ahead of time so you don’t end up frantically clicking on icons, wondering why nothing is happening, only to realize that you’re just bogged down the system by trying to do too many things at once. Keep in mind that all you have is a 630MHz Celeron at your fingertips, and leave any multi-tasking tendencies at the door.

Conclusions

We loved the original Eee PC and even gave it an Editor’s Choice award back in January. One of the reasons for the award was the fact that the Eee could run Windows, making it an honest-to-goodness mobile PC rather than a glorified Internet appliance. At the time, you had to provide and install Windows yourself. Now the Eee PC is available with Windows XP right out of the box, and to our surprise, the cost of the operating system hasn’t been passed along in the final price. As long as you avoid the $469 memory card and mouse bundle, the base Eee PC 4G XP model sells for $400, just like its Linux-based twin. Windows, for once, is free.

The inclusion of Windows XP makes this latest Eee PC an even better value than the original and much more appealing for mainstream users who are unfamiliar with or simply uninterested in Linux. It’s no surprise, then, that the Eee PC 4G XP is now available at electronics giant Best Buy.

Eee PC 4G XP
April 2008

As much as we love Windows on the Eee PC, the fact that the system’s hardware remains unchanged means that there are still compromises to endure. Limited screen real estate is the big one, and at least for now, it’s something we’re willing to forgive. We’ve yet to see a rival sub-notebook match the Eee PC’s price with a larger, higher resolution display. Asus is working on an updated Eee with a larger screen, but it’s not on the market yet and there’s no guarantee its price won’t drift beyond $400.

If you’ve been itching for a budget sub-notebook and can afford to wait a month or two, it’s probably best to see what the Eee’s successor looks like and how upcoming rivals based on Intel’s new Atom processor compare. However, if you’re looking for something now, the Eee PC 4G XP is easily the best budget sub-notebook on the market—and another Editor’s Choice award winner.

Comments closed
    • lucas1985
    • 12 years ago

    Compare the Eee PC to, say, the Sony VAIO VGN-TZ31MN
    ยง[<http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebooks/review/2008/04/14/Sony-VAIO-VGN-TZ31MN-Ultra-Portable-Notebook/p1<]ยง and it's easy to see why we rave about the little Asus box. We want cheap ultraportables, we don't want expensive DTR. The bigger screen and the use of an Atom processor to get more battery life are the icing on the cake.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 12 years ago

    I’m genuinely curious how it would handle Vista basic.

      • axeman
      • 11 years ago

      Well, Vista basic versus XP on a laptop with 1GB ram with a Celeron 520 is downright painful, and that is with a new enough Celeron to be a 1.6Ghz Core 2 (but single core) architecture. This is from personal experience.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 12 years ago

    Just one thing I’d like to point out is that the white laptop against the all-white background makes it hard to distinguish the edges of the laptop on some screens.

    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 12 years ago

    lol that thing is a novelty and nothing more

      • hermanshermit
      • 12 years ago

      Clearly you haven’t used one then.

        • indeego
        • 12 years ago

        He doesn’t have to. It is a novelty to *[

        • YeuEmMaiMai
        • 12 years ago

        wow why would I? no battery life, no screen, keyboard for a midget, painfully slow, for $100 more you can get a killer laptop compared to that thing……..

          • hermanshermit
          • 12 years ago

          Sorry I’m confused, why would someone who both hasn’t and wouldn’t use such a device offer his/her wisdom on the subject? I haven’t driven a 2009 VW Scirocco, care to hear my verdict? Thought not.

          It isn’t a laptop, like an iphone isn’t a laptop. You cannot buy a killer ultraportable at all, let alone for $100 more. XP boots in 20 seconds and it’ll run over 200 tabs in firefox or play a 720p movies in h264.

          Perhaps our definitions of “painfully slow” are different. Perhaps you need to play Crysis and render the next Pixar release on the train? I’ve seen all sorts of preposterously cumbersome desktops replacments playing solitare, myself.

          Given it’s sold 350,000 in the first three months and Asus reckon that they could only supply 1 for every 3 people who want one, I’d say quite a few more people actually do get the point.

            • indeego
            • 12 years ago

            To both you guys:

            The first time a device like this limits your task at hand, you grumble.
            The second time, you want to toss it against a wall.

            Why can’t you realize that devices like this are many steps forward, but also *[

            • ludi
            • 12 years ago

            You’re missing the point just as surely as YeuEm did. And yes, I spent about $600 for an HP510 notebook (Centrino version) last year. I quickly discovered that for many of my quick-carry trips, I was using almost none of its best features (disk space, DVD-R/W), and STILL only getting a two hour battery life when off AC. The high capacity battery would cost another $120 last time I looked. I also discovered last December during the holidays that even a mere 15.4″ widescreen cannot be utilized in an airplane economy seat without engaging in yoga. Go figure.

            Meanwhile, the EeePC has successfully replaced that laptop for many of my quick carries where I only need Internet, maybe office, maybe a media player, and prefer not to break my arm. That way I can save the more expensive laptop (and its battery) for the extended business trips where I might actually want a DVD player, edit documents extensively, or to open AutoCAD Viewer.

            Nobody is suggesting that you or anyone else pretend this is a full featured laptop, nor are you required to buy one. They’re called *[

            • indeego
            • 12 years ago

            Just took a trip on an economy flight, and I used an HP nc2400. Less than 4 pounds, Core2, 1 gig ram, 4 hours battery, decent keyboard and performance. To me this is no compromise, and price is fairly immaterial to get this package, but I imagine you can get them with year warranty for less than a grand now.

            Now if only they pulled the stupid fingerprint reader. I had to disable that on every one because of accidental swipes every 20 seconds (no exaggerationg{<...<}g)

            • hermanshermit
            • 12 years ago

            What’s the expected lifespan of a $400 phone or a $400 PDA or a $400 ipod? I’d be willing to put money on a eee using standard software and hardware being far more useful for a lot longer than any of these. As I’m an internet radio junkie, I fully expect my eee to be in usable in 5 years time, given that until I got the eee, a 10 year old PC from the recycling bin worked perfectly well in this role.

            Storage is not a problem at all, in fact it’s totally sensible what Asus have done at this price point. The 4 and 8GB drives are absolutely fine as a relatively fast system drive. XP plus MS Office is only 1.7GB, with some not very difficult tuning (used your language packs lately?). It has 3 USB2 ports and a SDHC slot and a mini pci-e.

            As of today I can buy a 16GB USB drive for $50 or the same SDHC for $60.

            In 6 months time, 32GB and 64GB (not SDHC) will be at the same price point, in a year and a half they’ll be rivalling current notebook hard drives for capacity.

            Of course Asus could have offered a 64GB SSD drive today. Apple do this at an extra $600, I don’t think that was quite the target demographic, given that’s 1.5 times the cost of the whole machine in the first place.

            The eee is a barebone portable system that can easily be tailored to your needs and your pocket, that is the point, it is what you make it. It is also a toe in the water for a totally new market. Machines with very similar specs were $1200 a year ago and still found a niche market. It isn’t perfect, but the next version improves the screen issue and the one after (using atom) may solve the runtime issue. Asus clearly listen and innovate and they deserve all the $$$ they make. Cotrast this with the stale overpriced, locked-down junk coming from Apple. I mean, a thin notebook that is precisely no more portable as it’s the same same size in the other, much more important dimensions, less useful and more expensive than one they already make.

            • axeman
            • 11 years ago

            Slipstream XP SP3 into an install CD. After that there is like 3 updates.

          • ludi
          • 12 years ago

          You are badly confused about laptop pricing structures. For $100 more than the EeePC XP, you get almost exactly the same base hardware (low-end Intel CPU, Intel chipset with integrated graphics) and 2-hour battery life. The trade-off here is smaller screen and reduced storage capacity in exchange for the convenience of fast boot times and easy portability. Take another good look of that picture with the Eee 2/3 covered by a CD case — it’s hard to appreciate just how small and light this thing is until you own one, but that pic is a good start.

          This isn’t a primary laptop, it’s another class of hardware for those times when a conventional laptop is just a bit too big and too heavy, but a 3G phone or PDA is incoveniently small and expensive. If that’s not valuable to you, don’t buy one.

    • ludi
    • 12 years ago

    Good review overall, albeit I do have a couple counterpoints:

    /[

    • swaaye
    • 12 years ago

    I think I’m buying the upcoming model with the big screen the moment it arrives. These little notebooks are exciting, but I really want more than 800×480.

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Nice. Putting an insecure version of Adobe Reader on the machineg{<.<}g

    • TRS-80
    • 12 years ago

    Not quite on topic, but I saw some more pics of the 2133, and it looks very much like it’s been OEMed by Asus for HP – the exhaust vents, VGA connector and other parts of the case design look like my Asus laptop.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 12 years ago

      If that were the case you would think the EeePC would look like the 2133. Different screen, guts, ports,etc. At the very least it would share the same keyboard and trackpad. One more thing to point out. No ASUS notebook I have seen uses that display hinge on the 2133 either.

        • ludi
        • 12 years ago

        Getting two laptops that look similar is not that difficult. There aren’t that many people making them and the screen, keyboard, ports, hinges, and accessory slots all pose similar structural and overall design constraints. Add to that the fact that something like 80% of the world’s laptops have traditionally been OEM’d by Compal and Quanta, and the rest are produced by a very limited number of other players…

        EDIT: intended to thread this below 27, not 34.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 12 years ago

    Link for the HP 2133 on page 2 is broken. It links to the same page as the review.

      • Dissonance
      • 12 years ago

      Fixed.

    • ReAp3r-G
    • 12 years ago

    just wondering…does the EEE PC come with it’s own external optical drive like the macbook air? or do you just buy an external burner and use it…if not i don’t see how you could rip your “own collection” of movies

    unless…you can setup the EEE PC to use your DVD drive on the desktop for instance as a network drive…possible?

      • Dissonance
      • 12 years ago

      It doesn’t come with an optical drive; you’d have to buy your own. Or you could always share a network drive.

    • Hattig
    • 12 years ago

    Waiting for the 8.9″ version as long as it doesn’t bulk up too much more (and hopefully uses a more power efficient chipset and other components). I’m not too bothered about the Windows aspect, XP can be very frustrating if you don’t use it often. Microsoft Works is a bit lame too. However a stripped XP with VLC, Firefox, tweaked user interface, etc, sounds good.

    An odd thing is that my now-old 12″ 1.33GHz iBook G4 came with a 4400MAh battery, and gets around 4 hours of battery life. This has a higher capacity battery, but has less life. Any ideas?

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      drastically different architectures, yknow. Power versus x86, right?

      [editted – thanks for reminding me, Hattig!]

        • Hattig
        • 12 years ago

        Just saying that if this Celeron is using <5W, then that G4 (which was not based on the POWER4 btw, that was the G5) should have been generating power to have such a difference in battery life.

        It does seem that we have gone backwards in battery life. Maybe the G4 had great power saving capabilities, and the Celeron in the EeePC has Speedstep disabled? The chipset is another potential candidate here, the GMA900 wasn’t optimised for use in very small devices.

        The shame is my iBook is just a little too big to use in the EeePC role otherwise I would recommend second hand iBooks to everyone instead!

          • UberGerbil
          • 12 years ago

          The 744 (or whatever the G4 chip was really called) is still being sold by Freescale as an embedded processor for low-power applications. It idles below 1W. It always scaled down to very low power, which is why Apple liked it for notebooks. It just couldn’t scale up to high performance.

          But the Eee has significantly less battery and a more power-hungry processor. Not surprising it doesn’t do as well. (That said, the battery life still seems low; I wonder if there is still more ASUS could do)

            • Chryx
            • 12 years ago

            the G4 ibooks all had 7447’s in them, 130nm process, 512KB L2 cache

      • DASQ
      • 12 years ago

      VLC is a disease.

      MPC or KMPlayer all the way.

        • bthylafh
        • 12 years ago

        q[

      • hermanshermit
      • 12 years ago

      eee has a 3-cell series 11.1v battery whereas most notebooks are 4-cell series 14.4v.

      amp hours aren’t the whole story.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 12 years ago

        …but they mean alot more than voltage.

          • hermanshermit
          • 12 years ago

          Nope they mean exactly the same:

          power = volts * amps (in Watts or joules/second)

          energy = power * time = volts * amps * seconds (in joules)

          Amp hours is meaningless without the cell voltage – although it by default it is for most notebook cells because they use parallel (usually 2) multiples of 4 cells in series. The eee is an exception to the norm. Each li-ion cell is 3.7V

            • ludi
            • 12 years ago

            …true, but with an addendum: Amp-hours are not defined as the total capacity of the battery, but rather the current which the battery can sustain between the maximum voltage and a cut-off voltage, below which the system will no longer be able to draw usable power (or, in some applications, the battery capacity will be permanently damaged).

            In the case of a notebook, the DC-DC converters inside are always outputting fixed low-voltages, so in theory, a higher starting voltage can be cycled farther down than a lower starting voltage. Although Amp-hours are theoretically Amp-hours regardless, in practice the lower initial voltage means that the average steady-state current draw on the converter’s output side cycles out the lower-voltage battery more aggressively, which can alter its discharge profile.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    I think I’m going to chillax until the Atom-based systems start seeing daylight.

    • Thresher
    • 12 years ago

    What I would like to see is the OS offloaded to a dedicated (and really small) SSD.

    • Xenolith
    • 12 years ago

    BENCHMARKS! At least run a 3DMark on the thing.

    • elegault
    • 12 years ago

    Props for using a Canadian Quarter.

      • Grigory
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah, I’m loving it, too! What crazy currency will TR use next? Fijian Conchs? I can’t wait! ๐Ÿ˜€

        • ludi
        • 12 years ago

        Linden dollars! Surely there’s more of /[

          • Grigory
          • 12 years ago

          Haha, I haven’t thought of a virtual currency! Nice one. ๐Ÿ™‚ If Linden Dollars get used I want to see PEDs, too. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • MadManOriginal
      • 12 years ago

      Might as well, it’s worth more than a US quarter nowadays :s

        • ludi
        • 12 years ago

        Close, but no banana ๐Ÿ˜‰ According to the XE.com UCC, a Canadian dollar currently buys almost 98 US cents. So a Canadian quarter is worth 24.5 US cents — just slightly below parity.

    • Peldor
    • 12 years ago

    Page 1 nitpick: 920 grams is more than 2 pounds.

      • Synchromesh
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah, I noticed that too. 1lb is approx. 454g so 2lbs is 908g and since 920>908 the machine weighs just over 2lbs.

    • hermanshermit
    • 12 years ago

    Good article. Firstly, thanks for spelling out exactly why the eee is so revolutionary. I’ve lost count of the number of times people post about spending the same on a quite respectably specced Dell. They and “the point” needed to be re-aquainted. Look at similar products often with the same CPU – $1200+ this time last year.

    Anyway, I bought my eee 3 months ago and it is without doubt the single most useful piece of kit I’ve bought in years – it’s used every single day, sometimes 24hrs a day for low-power P2P on an external 2.5″ HDD and for internet radio – the small screen means front facing speakers and better sound than you’d dare hope for in something this size. It often sits on the floor while I take a bath. I did install windows which I did with XP lite. By removing language packs and other stuff I don’t need, I have nearly 2GB space remaining with XP and office XP installed.

    As for performance, I’d say it’s generally quicker in XP than Linux, mainly because I know how to tweak my set-up properly. Disabling all the unneeded services etc. etc. Video certainly runs and looks better. You can download a utility to up the clock back to the rated 900MHz. It will “just” play 720p video with the main concept codec. standard resolution runs with full post-processing (deblocking/sharpening) just fine.

    I’d recommend people put 2GB of RAM in and run a ramdisk for we cache, temp files, real player cache etc. etc. this both speeds it up and save SSD writes. Web browsing is not noticeably slower than on my core duo desktop. Firefox, Flashblock, and fullerscreen are your friends….

    eee is revolutionary not only in the genuine portability but hopefully it will reduce the never-ending trend to bloat. People will re-assess what they actually do with a PC. The only thing it can’t really do is game or encode video. As I don’t game and only encode a couple DVDs a year, I actually realise how much a wasted on my powerful rigs. Asus has also effectively prolonged the existance of XP for another year or two.

    I’ll be buying the 8.9″ when the atom-hearted mother comes out and my current one will be a bedside radio – or a car PC mod or a file server via USB disks or a low powered firewall or I may strap it to the back of my parents TV with an idiot-proof linux distro as a web browser and DVB-T decoder or any number of useful things…. As you can tell I LOVE MY EEE, I’m only sorry for those that still don’t get it….

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      i like the idea of using a RAMdisk. What software do you use/recommend?

        • hermanshermit
        • 12 years ago

        i use superspeed ramdisk xp pro.

          • eitje
          • 12 years ago

          damn! that’s some expensive software!

      • Peldor
      • 12 years ago

      r[

        • Price0331
        • 12 years ago

        My thoughts exactly, I still don’t understand why this laptop is such a big deal. It has very low power, at a very low size, and a decently low price. It’s nothing that special, and even TR agrees at the begining of the article.
        I’d much rather have a laptop with a screen I can read on, and enough power to play some games.

        Being that I’m a computer (enthusiast) and all :p

          • Thresher
          • 12 years ago

          I’m not sure it really qualifies as a full fledged laptop. I suppose for some folks it would, but for someone like myself, I would consider it an extension of another computer that I can take effortlessly from place to place and then sync up to my server or main computer. I think that’s probably a more viable market, more of a glorified PDA than as a full fledged computer.

          • hermanshermit
          • 12 years ago

          Well, I’ll have to disagree with you totally.

          It’s main attraction is that you can have a genuine PC with you at all times without having to make special provision carrying it. It fits into my courier bag and I barely think about it until I need it. It is not like a PDA or gadget whereby it’s limited to what is released for the platform and support and new stuff dries up when the next gen comes out. Want sat nav, digital TV, whatever new wireless standard comes out next year? No problem buy a.n. other commodity usb cheapy from e-bay and take your pick of favourite software. Try that with your Palm, Nokia N800 or clie, things get ugly, expensive and often non-existant. Oh and how many of you bought video players only to find that the codec you want to play your “aquired” video doesn’t exist? iphone, don’t make me laugh…. It’s also a brilliant techie tool. Putty/shh, excellent networking support useable keyboard.

          I’ve been cycle-touring and skiing with mine because it is far more robust than a normal notebook and inexpensive enough not to get too upset if I did actually break-it. And flash memory does actually work at 3800m whereas a HDD won’t.

          A larger screen would be better for browsing, but the one it has is actually better than you might think and is quite usable. I had a 2GB memory module spare. I’d only like atom for more efficient power use.

          As for very low power. For what exactly? Most of the world doesn’t game or encode video – although people can and do play World of warcraft on it….. it does clock back to 900MHz, the 630 downclock was for battery life. It can certainly do The Sims 2 really well. You can photoshop if you really want to.

          Yet many of you will spend the same amount for a high-end ipod that does a fraction of all this. I would have thought the point of such a device is obvious. It’s more like a notebook was intended to be, before it morphed into a desktop replacement. In fact it’s more or less an everything replacement.

          It’s extremely liberating and has already paid for itself in hot-spot skype calls. But hey, it’s just a toy, right?

          • ludi
          • 12 years ago

          Also being an enthusiast, and one who had an opportunity to test the performance of several gaming-class DTRs in a previous life, I don’t particularly like laptops that are big and fast enough to play games. They invariably end up being hot, heavy, and afllicted with ailments such as irritating levels of fan noise and premature component failures. They’re also very awkward and uncomfortable to break out of storage for ten minutes leisure time on your lap and cannot be fit into any coach-class airplane seat, for obvious reasons. If you ever have the misfortune of dropping one — even while powered down and closed — the added weight means more opportunities to break something expensive. And your primary upgrade option once the CPU or GPU becomes too slow is to spend $1200 all over again.

          I mean, sure, if they were giving them away free, I would probably cope somehow, but…

          Meanwhile, I have a basic Centrino-platform notebook with a 14″ widescreen for those times when I need to tote along a basic computer, and I can run a few old games on it when I really have the time. But when I just want to have easy Internet access and the option of opening documents or watching a couple video files at a viewable resolution, the EeePC is extremely easy to just grab and go, especially for those times when I might leave my laptop behind just so I don’t have to lug it. It’s small and not much heavier than a similarly-sized novel, and I had a lot more interest in paying for something that’s actually a full computer than shucking out $300 or more for, say, an iPod or a 3G phone.

    • flip-mode
    • 12 years ago

    Still wainting for a larger screen, and more importantly, the cash to spare. Some time later this year the decision will be whether to get a better monitor for my desktop or get an Eee.

    I’m inclined to get the Linux version.

    • cheesyking
    • 12 years ago

    I’d just love to see how well one of these would work running windows if the poor punter had also been sold a copy of Norton with it ๐Ÿ˜†

    • crazybus
    • 12 years ago

    The Eee PC is so close to being exactly what I want in a portable PC. It’s cheap enough not to be precious, sturdy enough not to be fragile, and small enough to pack around.

    I want to be able to literally toss my portable pc in a backpack or satchel and run with it.

    Just give me the 8.9″ version with a higher screen resolution (and perhaps a wee bit faster hardware and longer battery life) and I will be all over it. Hopefully rev. 2 or 3 will be there. The “free” XP license takes the cake.

    • Furen
    • 12 years ago

    Glad Microsoft -[

    • willyolio
    • 12 years ago

    nice review. i hope you guys will review the 8.9″ version when it comes out.

    how many programs did you guys try opening at once?

    same with media playback… can it actually handle 800×480 xvid/divx decoding smoothly?

      • Dissonance
      • 12 years ago

      As long as you can handle a second of delay switching between programs, handles stuff like a text editor, multi-tab firefox session, and an im client all open at the same time. It’s not snappy, but it’s fast enough. And if you want more Firefox tabs, probably best to go for a 1GB SO-DIMM upgrade.

      No problems with smooth Xvid/Divx playback. Can’t vouch for up to 800×480 but 624×352 is smooth as butter.

        • willyolio
        • 12 years ago

        thanks. it looks like the eee should be powerful enough for my basic needs… i just want the version with the bigger screen. =P

      • hermanshermit
      • 12 years ago

      Under windows it will handle DIVX/XVID/WM9 at full DVD resoluton with full deblocking and sharpening.

      If you clock it back to 900MHz it’ll do the same with h.264 mainconcept at 720p – although there is little point as it’s bigger than the screen resolution (best re-encode).

      The number of programs opened is mainly a function of memory, stick 2GB in as it’s so cheap anyway.

      I’ve had firefox with over 150 tabs open and it’s fine – use a RAMDISK.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Well, 3 added pounds doesn’t sound like a lot but when you’re schlepping a backpack around the developing world it represents more than 10% of the total load. I’ve never bothered with a notepad on trips before, but I’m seriously tempted to get one of these.

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