Asus Eee Windows review: Asus Eee Windows

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Battery life: 7.0
  • Service and support: 5.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Small, light weight, and inexpensive; Windows XP for the same price as the Linux version.

The Bad Cramped keyboard; very little hard-drive space; low screen resolution; new ultramobile CPUs are coming soon.

The Bottom Line The popular low-cost Asus Eee PC makes a play for mainstream acceptance, adding Windows XP to create an impressive package for portable Web surfing and basic productivity, making it a near-flawless choice for a highly portable second laptop.

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Asus first released the low-cost, low-power Eee PC in the fall of 2007, winning rave reviews for the 7-inch $399 laptop, which cut overhead by using a tiny 4GB solid-state hard drive and a custom Linux operating system with preinstalled software such as Firefox and Open Office. While it became a cult hit (Asus says it will have sold 5 million units worldwide by the end of 2008), the lack of a Windows-based operating system kept some shoppers away.

The company promised a Windows version was in the works, but in the meantime, other PC makers saw the potential for inexpensive small laptops, and we've seen Hewlett-Packard's 2133 Mini-Note and an revamped version of Intel's Classmate PC run Windows with similar hardware, creating a new category people are calling mininotebooks or Netbooks.

While Windows lends the Eee PC broader appeal, a larger 9-inch screen (expected later this year) would give it a boost in functionality because the larger screen would mean less horizontal scrolling, and a larger keyboard would mean fewer typos. Instead, this new Eee PC adds Windows XP to an otherwise identical system and manages to keep the same $399 price (probably because the actual hardware inside is the same as we saw six months ago in the original). Hence, we stand by our original judgment that the Eee PC is certainly worth a look as a second laptop for travelers, or perhaps a first laptop for children--one you won't be afraid to leave in accident-prone hands. It shows up bloated UMPCs, which can cost up to five times as much.

Price as reviewed $399
Processor 900MHz Intel Mobile CPU
Memory 512MB RAM
Hard drive 4GB SSD
Chipset/Graphics Intel 910
Operating System Windows XP Home
Dimensions (WDH) 8.8 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 7.0 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter [pounds] 2.0 / 2.4 pounds
Category Ultraportable

At first it's easy to mistake the Eee PC's plastic chassis for a toy, and the recent HP 2133 Mini-Note is a similar system with an upscale brushed aluminum look. But the Mini-Note, while starting at only $599, is also a step up in price from the Eee PC, which was designed to put price first and looks second. The Eee PC is still the smallest of the mininotebooks, about the size of a trade paperback book, and it can even fit in a large jacket pocket without too much trouble. At 2 pounds, it's almost a pound lighter than the 2.9-pound HP Mini-Note.

Cramming all the things one expects from a laptop into a package this small presents some difficult design issues, and the Asus Eee PC has some of the tiniest keys we've ever had to deal with (UMPCs not included, which tend more toward smartphone thumb-style keyboards). At least most of the space is saved for making sure the actual letter keys are a usable size, which makes typing at least possible, if not entirely easy. We're not sure we'd ever be able to touch-type on it, but then again a fifth-grader might. Other keys, including the backspace, tab, and control keys, are smaller--mere slivers of their usual selves, and especially hard to hit. This is one area where HP's 2133 Mini-Note succeeds, with a nearly full-size keyboard impressively engineered into an only slightly larger space.

The 7-inch screen looks even smaller than it is, thanks to the large black screen bezel that frames it. At least the extra space around the screen serves a purpose--a Webcam sits above the screen and tiny speakers reside on the left and right side of the display, emitting tinny but passable sound for the occasional YouTube video but not much else. With a resolution of 800x480, there's not a lot of screen real estate to spare. The Windows XP desktop fits well into the small resolution, but some menus and control panels don't fit on the screen perfectly (you'll want to switch to the "small icons" view in the XP Start Menu, for example).

  Asus Eee PC 4G Average for category [ultraportable]
Video VGA-out VGA-out
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD or multiformat memory card reader
Expansion None Type I/II PC Card or ExpressCard
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive None None, or DVD burner

With three USB ports, a VGA out, and standard headphone and mic jacks, the Asus Eee offers decent connectivity. The SD card slot offers a good opportunity to boost the hard-drive space, letting you pop in your own flash memory, easily doubling the system's 4GB drive (less than half of which is actually free), with your own 4GB SD card, which you can get for less than $50.

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Where to Buy

Asus Eee PC 4G (white, Windows XP)

Part Number: 90OA01BA0112131U305Q Released: Apr 8, 2008

MSRP: $399.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Apr 8, 2008
  • Resolution 800 x 480 ( WVGA )
  • Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Color pure white
  • Weight 2 lbs
  • CPU Intel Celeron M 353 / 900 MHz