2008/04/18

Objects of Desire and Internal Conflict: Asus Eee PC.

Probably, most of you will be aware of the first successful ultramobile PC - the Asus Eee PC.
There's been a lot of buzz about the roughly-A5 sized cross between a PDA and a proper laptop since it was first released last year - and ever since then, I've been trying to resist buying one.

With the initial models (numbered 70x, where x is 0,1 or 2), this has been less of a problem; while otherwise lovely, they are encumbered by a tiny 7" screen at 800x480 resolution, barely enough to view a modern webpage.

However, the new model, the 900 series, is due out Real Soon Now, and one of the major improvements is the provision of a 8.9" display at 1024x600. (The other, other than increased storage, is an Apple-styled multitouch trackpad, which looks nice but isn't really important enough to matter to most people.) This, of course, is much more tempting, and it would have been very hard to resist buying one in a week or two when they're offically available here in the UK.

Except that, ironically, Asus appear to be trying to sabotage themselves. The 900 series was rushed out to its present release date to compete with all the new ultramobile PCs that other manufacturers have begun releasing, now that the market has been shown to be lucrative by the original 70x models (and the One-Laptop-Per-Child UMPC before it). This means that it still has the old, inefficient, Celeron ULV that was in the 70x, rather than the new Intel Atom processor that it was originally supposed to be fitted with. Asus say that a new model with the Atom in it is due "by the end of June", sporting significantly increased battery life (and possibly more performance) due to this alteration.

So, what's a man to do? Buy a 70x series now (despite the small screen, they have exceptional value for money, and exceptional possibilities for homebrew modification - see here, for example), buy a 900 series in a week or two, or wait (arg) until "late June" for the actual model that everyone wants... knowing that there will probably be something even better on the horizon by then?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have an 7" 8GB with 1GB RAM - the screen is fine, and it is ultra-portable. I have had a little problem with the WiFi - windows and mac computers have been able to connect where mine hasn't, but that was only the once.

Generally speaking the screen is fine - you can read everything clearly, and the resolution isn't an issue, although generally with emails I ctrl+ it to read things better. The software is up to date and easy to use (although I don't see the point of the learn section - I would dispence with this - it seems to be a hang-up of the OLPC project aimed at kids). I have also written a talk/presentation on it, since it has OpenOffice2.0 (but not 2.3) installed. The skype with webcam works great.

With the 8GB version this is plenty of space at the moment - I intend to get some sort of SD card too to expand things and make it easier to transfer stuff from my desktop.

My version had the modem bunged up with rubber (it was shipped from the far east, which uses a different phone set-up I think), but if I need to I can un-bung it and the modem should be fine.

All in all, pretty good. I suspect that I over-paid a little (£350, rather than £250 for the 4GB/512MB RAM) but I wanted the extra space and the larger RAM would be the most noticeable thing with that slower processor.

Luke A

aoanla said...

No - there is no modem card in any Eee PC. The slot is there for future expansion, if they decide to issue a model with a modem card.

Note, by the way, that it's actually £229 for a 4G - with 8Gig SD cards for less than £50, you pay over the odds for the 8G.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - the manual clearly mentions how to get the modem working. In any case - I don't need a modem.

I was really paing for the RAM, not the space too. In any event, it was really necessary at the conference last week, so it has paid for itself. I don't need a new desktop - if I did I'd buy a Mac.

Luke A