Pros Fulfilled all of my mobile computing needs and then some.
Cons Runs a little hot. Battery life could be longer
Summary Since the Asus Eee was first announced I wanted one. This device precisely fits my needs above and beyond any electronic I have ever owned. For years I have wanted a small, low cost laptop I could use at the coffee shop to handle my business issues. I go to the coffee shop three times a week, and I need something very portable, with wifi, that could connect to the internet easily.
Up to this point I have been using a small pocket pc with a collapsible keyboard. Very portable but not very practical. I thought about purchasing a used ultraportable computer on eBay. Probably a Fujitsu Lifebook P1120 for $350 or so, but the prospect of getting a used questionable laptop was not attractive to me.
A few months ago Asus announced a groundbreaking device. A $200 laptop with a 7" screen running Linux only on a SSD drive (a flash drive essentially). The initial prospect was wonderful. It had OpenOffice which had programs all compatible with Microsoft Office, it had Firefox, a browser in my opinion MUCH BETTER than Internet Explorer and it had Wifi.
However as the months went on, and the release date kept being pushed back the price kept rising. From the initial announcement in June till it was finally released on November 1, the price literally doubled. The basic model went from $200 to about $350 and the one I got which included a larger battery, more memory and a camera was $400, well $450 if you include tax and shipping.
The units sold out in minutes in Taiwan, and sold out in a couple days here. Supplies are better but they are still in hot demand.
What do I think now that I own one? I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. The small size is wonderful. It is exactly what I wanted. And performs what I need of it without problems.
Weight is about two pounds. The unit has a slick pearl white exterior. It boots up in about 25 seconds, and immediately recognizes external mouse even without driver installs. It's internal WiFI finds most hotspots instantly and connection is a snap. I was able to install my USB broadband modem without drivers in about five minutes which was significantly easier than windows XP which the unit was designed for!
The keyboard is pretty small, but with a little practice I can manage 50wpm no problem. The screen quality is excellent but could have been a little larger as they framed it with speakers that take up real estate that could have been populated by a 9" screen rather than the 7" that is installed. The unit has 3 USB ports which is better than many more expensive laptops. It has speaker and microphone ports and an SD card slot. The installed drive is 4GB of which about 1GB remains for files. If you install a 4GB SD card you can essentially double your memory. The unit has a touchpad with scrolling but I prefer installing a mini-USB mouse. The AC adapter is pretty small, compared to the usual power bricks most laptops come with. Sound and music sound crystal clear on the suprisingly good speakers.
First off, this unit is small. It is about the same size as a portable DVD player. Or to put matters into perspective, its about the size of a DVD case closed and about twice the height. Very small. It attracts attention. On one recent coffee shop trip I felt like a rockstar as so many people asked me about the unit and where they could get one. I sealed the deal by showing them Star Wars III on the unit and playing some other music and videos. When I told them it was $400 I could tell at least three or four new customers were born. Too bad they are sold out right now. Try eBay....
So many good points. I love the unit but what are the downsides?
A unit this small does not have a DVD or CD drive. You will have to install one externally. I don't really need one but others might. The battery which is rated at 3.5 hours does NOT last that long. The most I have gotten is about three hours but 2.5 is more real. You can plug it in with the very small adapter it comes with, if an outlet is available though.
Since it runs a custom Linux, you will not be able to run most Windows programs but the good news is you can install Windows XP on the unit and the company does provide drivers if you intend to do that.
Also the 900Mhz processor and 512MB memory is not the fastest or the best. It is meant for light use, not gaming or graphics intensive activity. You can easily push the unit to its limits if you are a power user. A small example of this is, try scrolling through large photographs while also playing music. The music will skip occasionally letting you know that the processor/memory is being taxed trying to play the music and show the photos at the same time. Not a big deal for me because my needs are not in that area.
Bottom line is, you cannot go wrong with this unit as long as you know what its limitations are. If you want a gaming laptop with gobs of memory and a sick video card for Halo 3 or whatnot, this is not the laptop for you. If you want an ultraportable solution for basic business needs then the Asus Eee will very pleasantly surprise you. It comes with its own carrying case and when you walking with it, it looks like are carrying a small satchel not a laptop. It is such a stealth unit its really great. It is so portable and so easy to carry that you can take it many more places than you would a traditional laptop. Instead of a 6 pound laptop with a huge bag and shoulder straps that dig into your side, you have a paperback size unit that goes anywhere anytime.
The Asus Eee is my favorite device. I highly recommend it to anyone with a portable computing need. Specifically though, I would not recommend it as a full time use home computer unless the user is a child or an older person with reduced needs. It is an excellent portable second computer but is underpowered for home needs for most people. That being said, go out and get one, people! Asus has a winner here. It is a groundbreaking device, and maybe years from now will be on display at the Smithsonian. By then, laptops will come with 1TB flash drives, and 4GB of RAM will be standard (I hope). Take care and I hope this review was helpful to your buying decision.
Pros Very compact feature rich hardware
Cons This product exempt from bright pixel guarantee
Summary The unit I received has a bright pixel. This is annoying. ASUS customer service refuses to replace or repair this unit because it is not considered a "high end" product. They assured me this policy is consistent with other notebook manufacturer's policies. The representative's advice to me is wait a couple of months for replacement parts to become available and then have the unit repaired at my own expense.
The Linux OS (tailored Xandros) is extremely limited. The ability to add software is limited to a rudimentary software management application which only connects to the ASUS eee repository, which apparently has no software in it.
The wireless connection works very well, but the management application forces you to type the hexadecimal WEP key ever time you connect.
Aside from the LCD defect which ASUS refuses to acknowledge, and the locked down OS, I like this unit very much for the compact and quality feel of the hardware. The many USB ports, SD card slot, and the integrated wireless, and the processing power give this unit a great deal of potential.
I intend to install Xubuntu to install Ubuntu and repair the LCD at my own expense at the nearest opportunity.
Pros Awesome OS, Good Software Incl., Tiny, Excellent Media Player
Cons Battery Life
Summary This is an excellent little computer package at a great price. The media player included seems to play EVERYTHING right out of the box (a little like VLC only more user friendly). I had planned to install XP after purchasing it, but the UI and included software with the OS (Debian?) are far better than XP for basic usage. WiFi works perfectly. Perhaps the nicest feature is that it has lightning fast startups and shutdowns. The only disappointing feature is the battery life. You would be lucky to get 3hrs with normal usage; for me it gets 2.5hrs MAX just surfing the internet. Sure, it's not $200 as suggested before, but even with the $400 price tag is is definitely worth it.
Pros Small Internet Device
Cons Can't Buy it right now
Summary I love it. Out of nowhere ASUS has built the device I've wanted for five years -- a laptop which you can actually carry around without getting a hernia.
Not a PDA.
Not an "iPhone".
Not a "mobile device".
A PC. A computer that you can type on.
With a real OS: Linux.
It aces everything.
Pros Light weight, decent spec, good performance
Cons Keyboard size / mapping, screen resolution
Summary I received my black 4G unit yesterday. My goal was to use this strictly for travel (I have an HP nw8440 15.4" notebook as my main pc).
The pros are easy: Very light weight - excellent build quality - and a very decent spec.
The cons are what you might expect: The keyboard is rather cramped - making typing a bit difficult (although I suspect you would get used to the size after some time with the unit), and the location of some keys, specifically the page up / page down / shift buttons. Again - one could get adjusted to this over time -- but how much time?
The other con is the screen -- while bright, it's resolution of 800 x 480 just doesn't provide enough 'viewing space' for me. The forthcoming 8.9" (or larger) screen may address this issue -- we'll see sometime in 2008.
If you're interested in checking the Eee out, purchasing from Costco will give you more than ample time to do so (90 days).
Overall, depending upon your requirements, the Eee might be the perfect super-subnotebook available....