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Asus Eee PC 701 Review - Introduction / Hardware

Asus Eee PC 701 Review

Reviewed by: Steve Emms
5th December 2007

Introduction / Hardware

The Eee PC (pronounced as a single E) is marketed as an "Easy to Learn, Easy to Work, Easy to Play" computer. Due to its size, it is classified as an Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC). Whilst ultra-portable notebooks often weigh about 2kg, the Eee PC is a featherweight 0.92kg. It is therefore an ultra-mobile machine in the true sense of the expression. The machine is small enough that it can be used in just about any environment. However, this is a full PC, not just a 'mobile Internet' device like Nokia's Internet tablets.

The Asus Eee PC has received considerable pre-launch media coverage. Not without reason, it isn't every day that a well specified device undercuts its competition in price by a considerable margin. This particular model retails in the US and UK for $400 and 220 respectively. I've been patiently waiting for many months for the Asus Eee PC to be released in Europe. That day finally came just a few weeks ago.

(view large image)

This review aims to provide readers with an in-depth treatment of the Eee, using an actual retail unit, instead of a pre-production model. This is important in a number of respects. Earlier models had a different BIOS, which, for example, did not provide full speed USB2.0 ports. Hopefully, having tested an actual retail model, the review should give a true representation of what this machine can actually do.

Before I jump into the review, I'll just give you a flavour of my Linux background. I have been using Linux since 1993, testing the majority of distributions released over the past 14 years on regular desktops and laptops. I've also used a number of different devices that have Linux pre-installed, such as the GP2X handheld gaming device, the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, and numerous Zaurus PDAs. However, this is the first time that I have had the opportunity to test a subnotebook pre-installed with a Linux distribution.

So what do you get for your hard earned cash?

In the pastel coloured box there is a:

- Subnotebook laptop
- Mains Power Supply
- User Guide
- Quick Use Guide
- Support CD
- Neoprene slipcase

The first thing that struck me is just how small and light the machine is. Like the Eee PC, the accompanying power adaptor is also very small and resembles a mobile phone charger instead of the standard brick that comes with a standard laptop.

The Quick Use Guide is a 14 page glossy pamphlet which, in plain English, describes the basic operations of using the Eee PC, such as powering on/off, configuring a network connection, connecting removable devices, accessing files, and starting up applications. There is also a more substantial User Guide which goes into more depth on these topics and many more. However, this documentation shouldn't be necessary for most users, as the machine is so simple to use, aided by its custom graphical interface (more on that later).

The neoprene slipcase is not designed to offer complete protection to the machine, but does prevent scratches and marks to the case. It's inclusion is a nice touch, as is the velcro tab around the power cable.

Specifications at a glance

Celeron M 900 MHz, L2 cache 512 MB
512 MB DDR2 400 MHz
4GB solid-state flash disk
Integrated - Intel 910GML series chipset with 400MHz memory bus
800 x 480 7" TFT; external monitor can be driven up to 1600 x 1200 using the VGA connector
Audio: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FB/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04); Realtek ALC662
3 USB2 ports, MMC/SD card reader, D-SUB out connector, 10/100 Mbit Ethernet port, Kensington lock slot, Headphone jack, Microphone Jack
Webcam: 0.3 megapixel webcam set into the bezel. 640 x 480 resolution
Battery: 4 cell 5200 mAH
Other: Atheros Ar5BX63 built-in wireless module for 802.11b/g wireless internet access

Let's now take a look at the components of the Eee PC in more detail.

Components Part 1

Read ahead

1. Introduction
2. Components - Part 1
3. Components - Part 2
4. General Operation
5. Software Introduction
6. Internet Tab
7. Work Tab
8. Learn Tab
9. Play Tab
10. Settings & Favorites Tabs
11. Additional Software
12. Final thoughts
13. Additional Screenshots
14. Appendix

Last Updated Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 06:05 PM EDT

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