The Eee's diminutive measurements (22.5 x 16.4 x 2.15~3.5 cm)
themselves. This is an extremely tiny machine. To
fully appreciate the small dimensions of the machine, see the above
In the first picture, I've placed a Logitech RumblePad 2 game
controller on top of the Eee. Note, that the game
controller is not that much smaller! In the second image, you can
see the Eee resting on an open 12.1" HP laptop. The Eee is literally
dwarfed by the laptop.
The 7" display uses an active matrix LCD which does not fill the top
panel. This is because the LCD screen is flanked by a pair of stereo
speakers. You might be asking
whether a 7" display is usable. Fortunately, Asus has
sensibly limited the resolution to 800x480, so that text is clearly
readable. This resolution makes the display far easier to read than
ultra-mobile PCs like the Sony Vaio UX1XN which crams a 1024x600
resolution into a
mere 4.5" display. Ideally, I would have preferred a bigger display
with the speakers moved to the base of the machine.
Even though the display is small, it is very impressive, producing a
clean and crisp-looking image. Colours are faithfully reproduced and
there were no bad pixels. The screen has an
anti-glare finish that helps to reduce reflections from overhead
lighting, which was helpful when using the Eee on the train. Another
noteworthy feature of the display is its extremely wide viewing angle,
although I found that this aided nosey train
commuters spying on what I was doing, especially as their attention had
already been drawn to the minute size of the machine.
The display can be set to 16 different levels of brightness,
more than enough for whatever environment the machine is being used in,
with the exception of very strong sunlight. Both the screen and the
chassis are sturdy and do not flex under
pressure. The hinges are sturdy and fairly stiff; a sign of solidity.
They certainly belie the inexpensive price
Another trade-off of the small form factor of the Eee PC is
that its keyboard has to be shrunk into a very confined area. The keys
are all extremely tiny, including the delete and return keys, although
left shift key and the space bar are of reasonable size. The gaps
between the keys are less than 1mm. Even though the keys are very small
and tightly spaced, I found that after
using the device for a couple of hours, I began to make very few typing
errors. I can type at approximately 80% of the speed I
obtain on my desktop machine (using a Zippy WK-620 USB keyboard).
This entire review has been typed on the Eee PC without
any feeling of being unduly cramped. Despite their small proportions,
feel firm and provide
a sufficient level of resistance and feedback. Having tried Sony Vaio
and the Gigabyte
Ultra-Mobile PC, I wasn't expecting the Eee's keyboard to be any
better. However, the keyboard wildly exceeded my expectations.
A couple of minor quibbles with the keyboard are the non-standard
placing of the right skift key, and the pipe (|) requiring 3 keys to
be pressed. The keyboard gets warm, but I'll expand on that issue later.
At the heart of the Eee PC is the Celeron M 900 MHz processor.
This is an ultra-low-voltage model with 512KB L2-cache. Released
in September 2004, this CPU is based on the Pentium M
Although it is is a couple of generations behind the
latest processors found in some ultra-portable notebooks (such as the
2 Duo T7300 and T7500), the machine nevertheless felt quick and
responsive at all times. The machine booted up in 14 seconds, and most
applications opened up without any significant delay.
Although the processor is rated at 900 Mhz, the BIOS shipped
with the Eee (0401) limits the speed of the front
This has the effect that the CPU is actually running at a mere 630 MHz,
significantly slower than its advertised speed. Of course
there are positive benefits from having the processor underclocked
(such as longer battery life and less
heat being generated). Furthermore, the machine still has
more than enough grunt to handle CPU intensive tasks. For example,
playing video files (divx, xvid etc) only consumes about 25-30% of the
Nevertheless, I trust that Asus will address this issue in a future
stable BIOS release (or kernel module) so that the true horsepower of
the machine is realised.
The Eee (Model 701) ships with a single 512MB memory module.
If the machine had been running Windows XP as its operating system
thought) the amount of RAM could present a problem, especially if, like
me, you run lots of applications simultaneously. However,
the customised Xandros distribution is much more efficient, with
the 512MB of RAM supplied being more than sufficient. Note, there's no
swap file or swap partition.
For anyone thinking that they'll just replace the memory stick, be
warned that the RAM access panel has a tiny 'warranty void if seal
broken' sticker covering one of its screws. However, voiding
the warranty by performing a RAM upgrade is likely to be unforceable in
law in many countries (assuming
that no damage is caused to the machine during the upgrade itself).
Besides the power input, Eee's ports are all located on the left and
right hand sides of the machine.
The first image shows the left hand side of the machine. Here
we have a RJ-45 Lan port (10/100 Mbit), providing wired connectivity.
The next port is blanked, but is intended for the optional modem. We
then have a USB port which is compatible with
both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices. The remaining two ports are a 3.5mm
microphone jack and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the right hand side of the machine resides a memory card
(taking MMC and SD/SDHC cards), 2 further USB ports, a D-Sub (VGA)
monitor port, and a Kensington Lock port.
Over the years I've amassed a large collection of MMC, SD and
cards ranging in size from 128MB to 8GB. All of these cards were
detected and worked well with the Eee. 32GB represents the
maximum amount of storage on an SDHC card, although they are currently
During the course of this review, I have connected a variety
of devices to the USB ports including a 250GB USB hard disk, mice,
players, USB flash memory, and a cordless Rumblepad joypad. The
Eee automatically detected all of these devices
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Last Updated Sunday, January 13 2008 @ 11:10 AM EST