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Asus Eee PC 701 Review - General Operation
General Operation

The Eee PC is extremely fast at both booting up and shutting down. Standby mode is available, although when left in this mode the battery is depleted at a significant rate.

A wide range of system functions can be performed using the Function key. A full list is below.

Function Keys

Action

Fn + F1

Puts the machine into standby

Fn + F2

Toggles the wireless network on or off

Fn + F3

Decrease brightness

Fn + F4

Increase brightness

Fn + F5

Toggles screen on internal display, or an external display, or both

Fn + F6

Launches the task manager

Fn + F7

Toggles sound on or off

Fn + F8

Decrease sound volume

Fn + F9

Increase sound volume

Fn + F11

Turns on numeric keypad

Fn + Ins

Takes a screen capture

Noise & Heat

With no internal hard disk, the only noise eminating from the computer is the fan on the processor. When booting up the machine from cold, the fan doesn't start up for 30 minutes or so, providing that the processor is not being stressed too much. However, the machine is very reluctant to turn the fan off, even when the cpu is idle.

To illustrate this point, I used a handy utility (gkrellm) to monitor the temperature of the Eee PC's components. The temperature of the processor is about 39C at bootup. The fan kicks in when its temperature has risen to 52-53C. Leaving the machine in an idle state, the temperature falls quite slowly, which is primarily due to the fact that the fan does not push that much air around. After 7 minutes of no load on the processor, its temperature had reduced to 49C. Yet, it wasn't until a further 24 minutes of the processor resting idle (CPU temperature now 46C) before the fan finally turned off.

The fan is very quiet, although its noise is clearly audible in a quiet environment. This detracts a little from using the Eee as a media device. Then again, I have only ever used one modern desktop/laptop machine that is quieter than the Eee, a desktop with a passively cooled Pentium 4 processor that cost an horrific amount of money.

The keyboard, palm rest and touchpad do get rather toasty after the machine has been on for a while.

Battery Life

To be truly portable, a PC needs good battery life. I have performed extensive tests on the Eee to see how it fares in this department.

I can report that in light use (with wireless on, brightness set to medium) a fully charged battery lasts for approximately 3 hours. That is pretty good! The same test with wireless switch off yielded a slightly longer battery time of 3 hours 20 minutes. There's a bit more scope of extending the runtime further e.g. by enabling power management to turn the power to the backlight off, turning the brightness of the display to its lowest setting, disconnecting USB devices etc.

For a more processor intensive test, I played a video that had been encoded at a fairly high resolution and bitrate. Each test was repeated 3 times, with the battery life below representing an average (mean) time.

Xvid file: Resolution 640x352 encoded at 115 kbps

Wireless

Brightness

Audio

Played from

Battery Life

Off

Low

Low

SSD

3 hours 15 minutes

Off

Medium

Medium

SD card

3 hours 3 minutes

On

Medium

Maximum

SD card

2 hours 39 minutes

On

Maximum

Maximum

SD card

2 hours 29 minutes

The results were quite impressive, especially considering that the battery is only a 4 cell model. Certainly, it'll last long enough to watch the majority of films. It is apparent that turning off wireless makes the single biggest contribution to extending battery life.

When the battery is running low, you are provided with two warnings. For the first warning, you receive a little popup stating 'Battery Life is low". For the second warning the ominous message "Battery charge is very low, and the system will shut down in THREE minutes if it is not plugged in. Save your work and prepare for the system to shut down" is displayed. No one could fail to disregard that one.

To illustrate the timings of these warnings, I'll take one of the tests. The first warning was given after 2 hours 38 minutes had elapsed. The second more serious '3 minute' warning was displayed at 2 hours 54 minutes, following which the battery indicator flashed on and off. In fact, the battery continued to supply power to the Eee for a further 9 minutes, before finally it was exhausted, with the system performing an orderly shutdown.

On one test, the first warning was displayed after only 1 hour 33 minutes had elapsed. This proved to be a false alarm, as the battery continued for a further 1 hour 6 minutes before the second warning was issued. I couldn't ever repeat this, so I can only conclude it was an isolated glitch.

The battery takes about 2 hours 45 minutes to recharge from an empty state. Strangely, if the battery still has 90% of its charge, it doesn't seem to recharge. Recharging only commences when the battery has reduced to 80%.

Software Introduction

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 Wednesday, December 05 2007 @ 07:29 AM EST


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