ASUS Eee PC 701 4G
- Price, PRICE, simple to use, solid state drive
- No optical drive, screen could benefit from being touch sensitive
This revolutionary little machine is a great choice for kids at school, or travellers looking for a basic unit to update their blog, check e-mails or write their travel diary with. We wouldn't recommend it as much to the elderly, simply due to the keyboard and screen size, but it is simple to use and does the job well.
Price$ 479.00 (AUD)
Although its title is about as obscure as Nintendo's Wii, there is a clear and definite purpose to the naming of ASUS's new, ultraportable notebook, the Eee PC. Its title and slogan are one and the same; easy to learn, easy to work and easy to play, or Eee, sums up this little nugget fairly well. However, it could also have been called the Eeee PC, adding 'easy on the wallet' to the end.
At just $479 it is possibly the cheapest firsthand notebook you'll get your hands on, but it doesn't resort to cheap or old technology. In fact it is one of the few notebooks currently available that uses a solid state drive, even if it only has a 4GB capacity. Solid state memory is advantageous in terms of speed and also for data safety. With no moving parts there is far less risk of causing damage to your drive with a knock or drop.
The Eee PC uses an Intel chipset and CPU, 512MB of RAM and uses a Linux-based operating system. This, of course, helps the Eee PC function on just 4GB of storage as the operating system uses considerably less space to run than a standard Windows installation would. It also has a very short boot time when starting the system up. One small disadvantage is the lack of an optical drive, but there is a built in webcam, a microphone and speakers, plus a VGA output (D-Sub), three USB 2.0 ports and there is even a media card reader supporting MMC and SD cards.
The screen is just 7in but has a reasonable viewing angle with good brightness. The keyboard, touchpad and mouse are all mini versions, but despite its size the keyboard is quite comfortable and easy to type on.
The interface is quite intuitive and easy to navigate. Due to its weight (just 0.92kg) and simplicity, ASUS claims the Eee PC is targeted at travellers and the elderly, but it's primarily targeted at education. In this respect the interface is perfect. Large icons populate the screen under a set of tabs; Internet, work, learn, play, settings and favourites. The Internet tab contains your Web-based e-mail shortcuts, Firefox for Web-surfing, Skype and a number of other funky shortcuts, including Wikipedia and Google Docs. There is also a messenger application that allows you to connect to multiple instant messenger servers, such as ICQ, MSN or Google Talk simultaneously.
The work tab contains all the Open Office 2.0 applications, including spreadsheets and a word processor, plus a PDF reader and a dictionary among other applications. Learn is where you store your subject shortcuts (that's if you're at school). There are subfolders for science and maths among others. In the science subfolder, for example, there is a periodic table and a planetarium application -- very cool. Play contains a few basic games and a media player, as well as shortcuts to the music, photo and video folders. It also contains access to the camera and microphone. The settings tab is what you would imagine and so is the favourites tab. Among the settings are some hardware diagnostic features and customisations options, as well as an antivirus application.
Overall, we were impressed by the design and functionality, as long as you buy it for the right purpose. It's not for the power users, but it functions so well at this price that we're beginning to wonder what we're paying for in bigger notebooks. Linux users may also find their way into the terminal and find other uses for this machine. The Eee PC is built on an Asus modified Xandros (a Debian derivative) interface. Linux users who are inclined may find the Eee PC has more utility than what is immediately apparent to the rest of us.
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