Mini-review of a min-eee PC

Well, shortly after selling my Powerbook, I discovered and acquired an Asus eeePC – pronounced ‘E-pc’ – the three e’s stand for “Easy to Learn, Easy to Work, Easy to Play”.

Asus eeePC

I’ve only had it a few days and can safely say that it has exceeded my expectations. It’s been fun taking this $399 wonder to work and showing coworkers the device. You’d swear I brought a puppy in by the way people have been reacting to it “Ah, it’s so cute and small!”… not to mention the procession of people coming by to check it out….I think Asus owes me a commission or two.

I’ll spare you the technical specs but so far it’s done everything I’ve wanted it to do considering the 512mb of ram and 4gb solid state drive. It ships with a custom version of Linux that has really impressed me with its speed and completeness.

They’ve really done a great job in making an accessible linux variant that my mom could easily navigate. It’s pretty easy to reconfigure it for a power user as well (aka Advanced Mode).

The dvd that comes with the unit also has Windows XP drivers so you can go that way (I’m happier with Linux) or you can track down on your favorite torrent site a special build of Tiger or Leopard OSX to install. As I previously posted, I wasn’t too successful but I’m sure it’s just a simple install config that I didn’t set correctly. I’ll try it again soon as it’s easy to restore back to Linux with the included restore dvd.

Here’s my initial impressions:

Good:

  • it’s friggin small!
  • build quality is much higher than expected
  • onboard speakers sound pretty decent considering their size
  • comes with a nice, long power cord without a giant brick, just a medium sized wall wart plug with collapsible prongs
  • boot up and shut down are FAST
  • the onboard webcam is decent with a fast refresh
  • the Linux install is quite speedy and I haven’t encountered any performance issues really

Bad:

  • the keys are a little cramped (duh)
  • limited theme/skin choices in Linux
  • Skype didn’t support video chats out of the box (you had to download the beta)
  • the mouse ‘rocker’ switch feels like it will be the first thing to break

There are other things to talk about in future posts so I’ll wrap up this one with a ‘mini’ video review from the Dallas Morning News:

2 Comments

  1. My MacBook (rev. A) has been through so many frickin problem in the last year or so, and just recently the hard drive finally died on me. So now, beyond it’s shitty battery and flickering screen, I can’t even use the thing. Course, I’m going to have to get it repaired, but I’ve been looking into getting an eeePC.

    See, basically in terms of mobile computing, I surf the web a bit, type documents, and blog. I really wanted to ditch the MacBook for an ultraportable, and am thinking of buying on of these. Just had a few questions, if you wouldn’t mind answering.

    – Do you miss anything about your Powerbook? The OS, the apps?

    – What do you do on your eeePC?

    – Is there a file system (i.e. Finder, Windows Explorer) in the Linux OS, cause it seems like a… large Newton almost. Is it more PC or more PDA in nature?

    – How do you update the apps? Can you install other ones?

    Thanks

  2. John says:

    I do miss a few things from my Powerbook….I’m sure things will start to bug me more once the ‘shiny new toy’ part is over. For now, I pretty much do what you want to do with my eeePC – surf the web, heck email, chat with friends, etc. It just takes time to get used to doing it on a smaller device.

    There is a file manager (aka finder/explorer/etc) that is pretty solid on the EEEpc…but like any OS, things aren’t always exactly where/how you expect them to be.

    It’s definitely more a full fledged PC rather than a PDA when it comes to the file system and overall functionality. Think of it as a full size PC operating system running on a device slightly bigger than some PDAs. Some things are very much full sized (to a fault) that haven’t been scaled fully to the device….more scrolling for example rather than using the screen real estate more effectively.

    THere is an ‘Add/Remove Apps’ button in the settings tab that keeps track of what is installed and lets you know there are updates. Not nearly as nice as OSX’s Software Update or even Windows Update (you have to go to it, it won’t let you know something is new unless you run it) and there are more advanced ways of getting things onto it like using the Synaptic manager to get other programs. You can also just ‘apt-get’ via the command line.

    Don’t get me wrong, this machine isn’t for everyone and probably isn’t a replacement device but it’s a nice bridge device between my iPhone and my iMac.

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