Asus Eee PC X101CH review: Asus Eee PC X101CH

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CNET Editors' Rating

2.5 stars OK

Average User Rating

3 stars 6 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Low price; Slim design; lightweight.

The Bad Very poor performance; unimpressive screen; awkward keyboard.

The Bottom Line The Asus Eee PC X101CH may be slim and light, but it fails to impress in nearly every other respect. Its relatively cheap price tag doesn't justify poor processor performance and an unimpressive screen.

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With high-powered skinny ultrabooks flying at us from all directions, the time of the netbook seems to be almost over.

Asus, at least, thinks there's life in the old dog yet and has brought out a couple of new models -- the Eee PC 1025C and this chap here, the Eee PC X101CH.

It comes packing an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and can be yours for the reasonable price of £210. But is it still worth investing in these miniature machines?

Design and build quality

Netbooks have been floating around for a while now and there's been very little attempt by any of the manufacturers to help their models stand out. Asus has made at least some effort with the X101CH, giving it a pleasing texture and -- in my review sample -- a minty-fresh white coat.

Asus Eee PC X101CH top
I get to review a white version because I'm special, but you'll have to make do with black, at least for now.

Every available space -- excluding the trackpad buttons -- are bright white, which you'll either love or hate. The standard model that will be on sale will be black, at least at first. Asus says the white one will hopefully follow soon after, but for the time being, you'll just have to imagine our pictures in black.

Asus Eee PC X101CH trackpad
Asus ran out of white plastic when it came to the trackpad buttons.

If you're a big fan of minimalist designs and clean, recently bleached surfaces, then you'll probably be keen on it. If you prefer dark colours and angry gun-metal grey, then it won't float your boat quite so buoyantly. If you've ever owned a totally white tuxedo though (and I sincerely hope you have), then you'll know how quickly pure white things pick up dirt and grease -- an issue you won't experience with the black model.

I found the crisp white was immediately muddied by errant cake crumbs and fingerprints. You'd have to be an epic neat-freak to keep this thing spotless, so you'll really need to think about your own cleaning habits before splashing your cash.

Asus Eee PC X101CH angled
The X101CH is specially designed to highlight your cake crumbs.

At 262mm wide, it's exactly the same size as pretty much every other netbook's footprint, but at 22mm thick, it's particularly slim. That has the knock-on benefit of weighing around 1kg, which is a fair chunk lighter than many of its competitors -- great news if you plan on carrying it around all day.

If it does become your travelling companion, you'll be pleased to know that it's built sturdily. I gave it my usual manly barrage of pokes and squeezes and found it to be satisfyingly free of creaks and flex. The white plastic might give off a slightly cheap impression, but it still feels well put together.

Around the edges you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, VGA out, an Ethernet port and a headphone jack. There's also an HDMI output, which means you should be able to hook up a TV for high-definition video playback -- something I'll come back to later.

Asus Eee PC X101CH right ports
One of its saving graces is it's thin and light for a netbook, at 22mm and 1kg respectively.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard is a standard-issue netbook affair and is in fact the same one I found on its sibling, the Eee PC 1025C. That's a shame as the keyboard on that was unpleasant, to say the least, and the same is sadly true of this one. The isolated keys are spaced out as much as they can be, which is good. But if you've got hands any bigger than a child's, you won't find it too comfy to type on for extended periods.

The trackpad is the standard size you'd expect to see i.e. small and narrow. It uses all the available space, but on a netbook, there's really not much to spare so you're left with a tiny square to swipe around. That makes anything more than clicking on a few emails an irritating chore. If you plan on doing some serious web browsing, I highly recommend plugging in a USB mouse.

Asus Eee PC X101CH keyboard
You're going to need to put your digits on a diet if you're a chubby-handed chap who plans to use this squished keyboard for any length of time.

Screen

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Where to Buy

Asus Eee PC X101CH

Part Number: CNETAsus Eee PC X101CH

Typical Price: £210.00

See manufacturer website for availability.