The Asus Eee PC is one of the most innovative and promising laptops to hit the consumer market in years. With an introductory model priced at a mere $399, Asus is offering an extremely compact, 2lb laptop with a 4GB solid state drive. But most importantly, the Eee isn't gimped for office tasks or internet browsing like the closest-sized and priced mobile devices. Indeed, Asus has brought ultraportables to a mass market price.
But while all these ideas sound fantastic on paper, how does the Asus Eee actually perform in testing? Hit the jump for our Frankenreview—nine different perspectives on the ultraportable we're all hoping to be great.
The physical feel of the notebook is pretty solid for such a small piece - I have definitely had 11" screen notebooks that felt more fragile than this system does. As long as you don't expect the build quality of an IBM ThinkPad, you will not be let down.
The obvious limitations of the tiny hard drive, low-power CPU, and lack of the Windows operating system may be enough to scare away many potential users...
The Intel Celeron M CPU runs at 900MHz with 9x clock multiplier. The L1 cache is 64KB, the L2 cache size is 512KB and the Bus speed is rated at 400MHz...The TDP of the chip is a very low 5.5W. This low heat signature makes it ideal for a platform of this type.
Given that there's only 1.3GB of space after the OS and applications, external storage through USB keys and hard drives will be essential. As such, it's pleasing that Asus has managed to squeeze as many as three USB ports into the diminutive chassis.
Most low-priced notebooks currently on the market feature poorly built keyboards...Much to our surprise, the keyboard on the Eee PC is remarkably firm, though the keys are small and have a large degree of "wiggle" when pressed.
For the Eee PC, ASUS developed its own full-blown operating system based on Xandros Linux. The user interface is easy to understand and navigate. It's similar to a Web page with multiple tabs.
The Asus Eee PC comes preloaded with more than 40 applications...almost none of the applications on the Eee PC can be considered "bloatware." In fact, almost every application on this notebook is both useful and easy to use.
...we didn't see any new applications we could add, although Asus promises to certify applications as they become available and make them available to users via software updates. The intrepid can install applications themselves, but you'll have to dig into the File Manager and launch them manually each time.
Shih [Asustek President] says Asustek will tap into a new market—consumers unable to buy computers because they're too expensive or just too intimidating. Indeed, the Eee name comes from easy to learn, easy to play and easy to work.
The Asus Eee PC looks like a good buy if you mind the caveats. Little known fact? That girl in the picture above is only 4 inches tall.