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Laptop prices falling hard

Today’s MacBook price cuts were both welcome and not unique in the current laptop market.  Ultraportables and desktop replacements alike have been suffering from netbooks and Intel CULV powered thin ‘n lights pulling down the whole sector.

It’s pretty cool that you can finally get a decently powered 3-4lb laptop with a 13 inch screen for well under $1,000; MSI’s X340 and Acer’s Timeline are good examples.  Both are HD video capable and provide enough power for day-to-day computing.

These machines pull down the premium end of the ultraportable market like the Dell Adamo and MacBook Air, which don’t really offer much more hardware than the MSI or Acer.  In fact the Dell is probably slower than both.  So now we have a $1,499-$1,799 MacBook Air, which is great news for consumers and effectively sets a glass ceiling for ultraportable prices.

At the heavier end of the market 17 inch laptops are under strain from all-in-ones like the Asus EEE Top which are semi-mobile and keenly priced.  I found a new Toshiba dual-core T3400 17 inch laptop on Amazon this evening for $529.  This thing was fully loaded, you really wouldn’t need much more for a day-to-day desktop replacement…and of course you can install Windows 7 RC and get almost a year of usage before you need to buy a license.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

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Jun 8, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Windows 7 pre-Beta success stories responsible for Atom notebook rumors?

Today’s rumors that HP is discussing the possibility of using Atom CPUs for notebooks as well as existing netbooks is interesting for two reasons.  Firstly we have not seen the Atom in any laptops with >12″ screens, but secondly and more importantly I think this could be an indicator of confidence in early Windows 7 tests.

We have already seen Windows 7 running on an Asus EEE PC, and early impressions of the next-gen OS have been extremely positive for a stage so early in the pre-release phase.

So what does it mean if HP really is talking to Intel about supplying the Atom for notebooks?

  • Battery life should skyrocket, if the netbook crowd can be used as a benchmark.  My Wind gets over five hours in real-life usage and the only significant additional power drain on a notebook is a larger screen…but they also offer more real-estate for housing a larger battery.  Could full working-day battery operation from a large-screen laptop become a mainstream reality?
  • The concept is good news for organizations with a mobile/flexible-working workforce and a thin-client infrastructure.
  • Many consumers may only need low processing power as we move towards a web-based services computing model (eg. web-mail/photo/music/productivity apps).  They might trade notebook HD movie editing capabilities for longer battery life in real life usage…however this would require a sea change in marketing tecniques where high power specs aim to sell a life-changing experience.  It is probably a ‘Greener’ sell though, which could lead to Atom-based notebooks being more fashionable that more energy-hungry models.

Time will tell if anything comes of this, but when I put together the early Windows 7 success stories with rumors of HP talking to Intel about the Atom then it does all start to come together…in my hopeful mind!

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 2, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Microsoft | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MSI Wind / Advent 4211 Review

After a gust of initial promise, the MSI Wind blew into the US market in a flurry of overpricing, stock delays and battery shortages. Whilst the pricing still remains questionable, the stock situation has slowly improved. I managed to spend some time with the Advent 4211 clone in London this week to see if it was a full force tornado or just hot air.

Acer Aspire One on top of MSI Wind

Acer Aspire One on top of MSI Wind

Appearance of the MSI Wind

The Wind is one of the larger netbooks, not quite as ‘notebook looking’ as the Asus EEE 1000 but sizeable nonetheless. Sitting under the Acer Aspire One the MSI Wind shows a centimeter of clearance all round, which is not bad considering it boasts a full inch of extra screen space due to the Wind’s narrower bezel.

As for overall appearance, the MSI Wind looks OK. In Advent 4211 silver plastic guise it misses out on the eye catching looks of the EEE 1000 and Aspire One which are definitely a step ahead in the fashion stakes with their design details.

Keyboard and trackpad of  the MSI Wind

Opening the lid reveals a good size keyboard with a smallish trackpad. The keys themselves sit up high and seem initially stodgy to press. Due to their angled sides they actually have a smaller contact area than the Acer Aspire One, which sit almost flat giving a sleeker look and for me a more reliable typing experience. The Wind’s keyboard is perfectly functional however and would be easy to adapt to. I wasn’t a fan of the right Shift key’s position and there is some empty space where MSI haven’t fully utilized all the available real estate.

The trackpad is responsive enough, but might ideally have been wider. It’s reminiscent of the first EEE PC, which had an even smaller square. The EEE 1000 definitely leads the netbooks in this regard with its lurvely multitouch pad.

Performance of the MSI Wind

The MSI Wind and Advent 4211 ship with Intel’s Atom N270, 1GB RAM, an 80GB hard drive and Windows XP Home, which took just under sixty seconds to boot and turn the egg timer into a full arrow. That’s passable, but this is a bare machine. I expect that once you install a firewall, antivirus, Skype and other apps which load at boot-up you’re probably looking at nearer ninety seconds plus another ten to lock on to a wireless router. By contrast the Linux Aspire One boots in eighteen seconds plus wireless lock-on time.

Once the MSI Wnd is up and running the Atom hustles along speedily enough for general uses with applications loading in acceptable if not lightning time. Again performance on the Aspire One Linux feels snappier with faster application load times. Music sounds reasonable through the built in speakers and the webcam puts in a good performance compared to some of the other current netbooks.

The screen is also nice enough too. I was expecting to be dazzled given early claims about its quality but it’s actually very similar to the Aspire One and EEE 1000 in terms of brightness and clarity, which is still a good thing. I was unable to test DVD playback as I did not have an external drive to hand.

The MSI Wind is well connected with three USB ports, ethernet, VGA, audio in/out and an SD card slot, although it lacks the Acer Aspire One’s second SD slot.

Did the MSI Wind blow me away?

So was I blown off my feet? Not quite. The MSI Wind is a nice netbook, it does everything well but just looks and feels a bit ordinary at $499 for the 3-cell version or a whopping $599 for the 6-cell. By contrast the Acer Aspire One XP is $349 and $449 for the 3 & 6-cell versions respectively and the longer lasting EEE 1000 is yours for $549. Last time I looked the Wind had fallen out of Amazon’s top 100 computing bestsellers, whilst the Acer Aspire One and Asus EEE 1000 were both in the top 5. Until MSI revises its pricing I have a feeling it might stay that way.

Neil Berman

www.thonbutton.com

Gallery:

Sep 6, 2008 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Netbook market grows further, has Aspiring winners and falling Stars

A glance at Amazon’s top 25 bestsellers gives a window into today’s netbook market.

The recent $100 price drop of the Asus EEE 1000H has it selling strongly, Acer’s Aspire One Linux is sitting at number 11 and the pre-order XP version is at 14. Various other EEEs make up much of the middle groung and Micro Star International’s Wind is caught up in turbulence at 24.

Given its $399 price tag I expect the 3 cell XP Aspire One to climb that chart, although hopefully they won’t suffer from the quality control issues which sent my Linux One back for repair only days after its unboxing.

Lenovo announced its entries, the S9 and S10, a few days ago. Only the S10 will be coming to the US and will bring a ten inch screen, Atom processor and XP starting from $399 in October…and it looks great.

An unfortunate characteristic of the Wind since its missed launch date of mid-June has been rumored, and now official, price hikes. The 3 cell XP model is now at $499, which looks forgettable compared to the pricing of the One and S10. This Wind is blowing in the wrong direction.

We’re still waiting to see what Dell’s E is going to throw at us, shouldn’t be too long now. Their rumored $299 entry price will ruffle a few feathers and their marketing might will ensure a sale or two.

Then there are still more models expected to launch in Q4 with VIA’s celebrated Nano CPU, just to make buying decisions that little bit harder.

If I was a betting man I’d say that Acer’s Aspire One and Lenovo’s S10 are set to be strong sellers in XP guise. Dell won’t take any prisoners either when they launch. So within a year I expect the Wind and Mini-Note to be shaken out of the market or forced into price cutting. Perhaps the savior of the Mini-Note will be if HP can swap in the Nano for the C7.

For the Wind, price cutting alone may be too late for mainstream buyers. If broad stock fails to arrive soon then how will they break onto retail shelves which already have Acers, Dells and EEE on display? It may end up being too little too late for this great product.

Neil Berman

www.neilberman.com

Aug 9, 2008 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It was love at first sight but Eee’s not the One.

A few months with an Eee 701 have taught me one thing. It’s not the one. It was one heck of a first breed of ultralight laptop and it was fun while it lasted. But three days on since Acer’s announcement and my One is in the mail. That’s the Acer Aspire One.

It’s fair to say that it would have been the Wind if anyone was actually selling them…The Wind forums are full of people saying they’ve just ordered a different machine out of sheer frustration.

In only nine months the Netbook market has moved so far, there’s no room for supply chain slip-ups. I’m looking forward to seeing how the One performs: Atom processor, near full size keyboard, webcam, 8.9″ LED backlit screen and as light at my 701. It sure does sound promising.

Best of all it’s real and is in a UPS truck right now heading for chez moi. Full review to follow…

Neil Berman

www.neilberman.com

Jul 26, 2008 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini laptops = mini prices?

Don’t you just love market forces? Only a week after it’s launch at $649 and the Asus EEE PC 1000 is already down to $549 at NewEgg.

Part of the greatness of the original EEE was its price tag, and sales figures were through the roof. As everyone else caught up with models from HP, Acer, Dell and MSI all announced or launched, Asus’ pricing seemed off the pulse. So it’s good to see this correction, but more is still needed especially for the EEE 901 given Acer’s 8.9 inch Atom powered Aspire One is retailing for $379. By comparison the 901 is over $200 more expensive!

Now spare a thought for MSI’s Wind. The Wind is a great product ‘almost’ competing with the EEE 1000. I say ‘almost’ because although the Wind was due to rock the market over a month ago, the only model released was a low capacity battery version which had reviewers telling everyone to wait until September.

I expect by then the 10 inch early adopters will have bought the reduced price EEE 1000 and the Wind will be scrapping in the trenches for leftovers in a price-cutting market.

Did I mention the Dell E will be launching around then starting in the region of $299…?

Neil Berman

www.neilberman.com

Jul 21, 2008 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gigabyte vs Lenovo: The Atomic Clash of the MIDs

I got some hands on time with the upcoming Atom-powered Gigabyte and Lenovo MIDs last week and I’m sure about one thing: the OQO 02 just became very overpriced.

Both the Gigabyte and Lenovo MIDs are expected to come in around $500, albeit running Linux. They both have usable, if very different, keyboards; they’re both eminently pocketable and both have Intel’s super-efficient Atom CPU which means tons of battery life. The Lenovo unit I played with even had an Olympic paint job; cute.

Who are they for? No-one really knows yet, but they’ll definitely appeal to the people who are (not) buying the OQO 02 and Samsung Q1 Ultra these days. The 02 is still languishing around the $1,800 mark. The Q1 can now be found knocked down to $800 or so. Neither is likely to match the atomic (pun intended) battery life of the Gigabyte or Lenovo MIDs, which is critical for a pocket computer.

Gigabyte MID has more traditional design and plenty of expansion. Both units have 3.5mm headphone jack:

Will there be Windows versions of these two MIDs? That’s not known as yet, but I don’t think it’s inconceivable. The Atom is certainly capable of it so I’d expect at least to see fanboy photos of Windows booting on one of these units soon after release.

The actual models I tested had modified Linux front ends which are cost effective, but the practical and performance advantages over XP remain unclear. My EEE 2G boots Linux in 25 seconds, but the XP version is not far behind. In fact the cost advantages are only partial these days, as Microsoft recently reduced the license cost for XP Home on ultra low cost PCs.

The Linux implementations on these units was okay with some sweet touches, for example the Lenovo employs an easy swiping motion to scroll through home screen icons. It also has a Mozilla browser named Coolfox – dig the family name.Having played with a gazillion different Linux front ends now, it would be nice to see a standard emerging. Perhaps we’re still a bit early for that but hopefully it will come in a couple of years. If this doesn’t happen then ultimately the consumer will suffer from having a learning curve attached to each manufacturer’s devices…a bit like cellphones but oh so much deeper.

Lenovo’s MID has an interesting pointing device and takes full size SD cards, unlike Gigabyte’s. Front facing cam is on both units:

Did either of the two capture my imagination? I preferred the Gigabyte’s keyboard layout and overall format, whilst the Lenovo is probably a younger choice aimed at pure surfing and messaging with it’s cellphone style keyboard. The full size SD slot on the Lenovo also gives huge expansion potential, compared to the Gigabyte’s micro-SD limitation. Whether either of them can be successful will depend on persuading people away from buying an EEE-type mini laptop which all offer a bit more (but in a bigger box) for less money.

Look at it another way: Five years ago everyone had desktops and no-one could persuade consumers to buy a laptop second PC. Now everyone has laptops and the 2006-07 challenge was to get people in the mindset of wanting something even smaller. That seemed impossible until the EEE came out and busted out everyone’s perceptions. Now Acer, Dell, HP and MSI are jumping in because it’s going to be a huge market. The same will happen with MIDs once the EEE-format market matures.

So although hordes of people won’t be running out to buy one of these MIDs just yet, recent history suggests that we will in a few years time. Hang in there MID fanboys.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jun 16, 2008 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Asus EEE 900 vs. HP Mini-Note 2133 mini review

It’s been just six months since the launch of the first Asus EEE PC and the sector has exploded. The original UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) name has been supplanted by Microsoft’s ULCPC (Ultra Low Cost PC), Intel’s MID (Mobile Internet Device) and various manufacturer led acronyms – MSI’s forthcoming Wind is actually an abbreviation of WiFi Network Device.

Screen sizes and storage space have increased, but in most cases so have price tags. Asus itself is a case in point, with its recently launched EEE PC 900 offering a nine inch screen and up to 20GB of onboard storage but a hefty $549 sticker price. The majority of the hardware on the inside is similar to the 701, but the increased screen real estate in a similarly sized package makes web browsing and general working more manageable.
Unfortunately the keyboard feels the same size as the original, which I struggle with after a few months of daily use. It’s fine for occasional emails etc but for more consistent work I make too many typos with it as my fingers sometimes land on two keys at once.

The screen seems a bit brighter than the 701 and fills the (slightly larger) lid nicely, with the webcam still preserved. Looks and build quality haven’t kept pace with the competition however, as we segway into the HP Mini-Note…
…which is one of the best looking laptops money can buy.

Powered by a range of VIA C7 processors up to 1.6GHz it sounds at first like it will outperform the EEE’s 900MHz Celeron, but user testimonies indicate that the Mini-Note often gets stuck in the slow lane.

When I tried it out running Vista it was actually pretty decent, loading apps quickly enough for general usage. In fact if you write a lot and have limited multimedia requirements, then the Mini-Note is a fair choice because the keyboard is absolutely awesome.

The keys are large, almost as large as a full size laptop, and I was able to type fluently from the get-go. The trackpad is responsive too and although the buttons are oddly placed on either side, this makes the pad’s area larger and is not a problem if you tap-to-click.

The looks, screen quality and overall usability beat the EEE and the whole thing seems better constructed too, if larger, whilst pricing is similar. The Mini-Note starts at $499 for a Linux build, compared to $549 for the Linux EEE 900. The top of the range Vista Mini-Note model sells for a not so appealing $749.

Unfortunately for both the EEE and Mini-Note, their respective Celeron and VIA processors have a tough time managing multimedia applications fluidly. This is forgiveably in the $299 EEE 2G, but less so in a unit costing around twice as much.

Overall the HP Mini-Note and Asus EEE 900 have strayed away from the original EEE ultra-low-cost concept and are competing with budget laptops but offering limited power. Of course these machines are all about portability but other models due out soon may offer a better balance…

Speaking of which, we will see MSI’s Intel Atom-powered Wind in June. With an 80GB hard drive, ten inch screen and rumored six hour battery life under Windows XP, I’d wait to check out the Wind before handing over the plastic on either the HP or Asus just yet.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

XP extended to at least 2010 on Asus EEE style computers

Michael Dix’s announcement on Thursday that Microsoft would now offer Windows XP Home until at least June 30th 2010 tells us one thing: the Redmond giant is getting more sensitive to its little customers.

The message behind the April 3rd statement seems clear: Microsoft is nervous of losing a whole market to Linux and Google-apps-cloud-style computing. That market is what Dix called the ULCPC (Ultra Low Cost Personal Computer), which includes the amazingly popular Linux-powered Asus EEE, Everex Cloudbook and forthcoming models rumoured to be on the way from Acer and HP amongst others.

In the past I think Microsoft might have just said, ‘our current platform is Vista, make your hardware better‘. However on this occasion market forces led to the creation of a more viable option. Most EEE buyers are probably happy with the price/power/battery trade-off in the unit. I know I am. Would I pay another few hundred bucks for a same size, same screened EEE with enough power to run Vista? No way.

So Microsoft will now continue offering XP Home to OEMs of ULCPCs for the next few years. Good decision, and well done for responding to customer opinion. Dix said there is no intention to extend the sales period similarly for other XP versions. In any case, Vista sales have just reached one hundred million licenses so I would not expect the other versions to get a further extension.

Microsoft’s statement was swiftly followed by Asus announcing that they would start selling an XP-powered EEE on April 9th, priced at $400. The specs are believed to be identical to the existing 4G model, only this time some of the nice bits, such as the webcam, are more likely to work out of the box with applications like Skype. According to Laptop Magazine, XP boots in 40 secs on the EEE. That’s pretty quick for XP. Asus is going to sell bucketloads of these.

A few weeks ago Microsoft reinstated support for certain legacy file formats in Office 2007, following requests from the user community. I would expect that users of those legacy formats (mainly Office 97) are already strong candidates to move to OpenOffice or Google Docs. Perhaps this reversal from Redmond might keep them on side for a little longer.

Is there a trend emerging here? Perhaps the giant is feeling like some dwarf’s are getting taller.

Neil Berman
www.neilberman.com

Apr 6, 2008 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile, News, Software | , , , | 1 Comment

Everex Launches Asus EEE Rival

In my review of the Asus EEE PC I predicted: “…this is the IT bargain of 2007. Expect other companies to follow…

It’s happened.

Everex announced the CloudBook ultra-portable notebook at CES, a direct rival to the Asus EEE PC.

The CloudBook, sporting a seven inch screen like the EEE, weighs two pounds and crucially ships with a 30 GB hard drive unlike the 2/4/8 GB SSD in the EEE. This means that it should be able to run as a fully functional Linux or Windows XP ultra-portable.

The other specs also support this expectation: 1.2 GHz VIA C7 ultra low voltage processor, 512 MB RAM (likely upgradeable), 802.11b/g WiFi. Also onboard is a 1.3MP webcam, ethernet port, DVI port (nice), two USB 2.0 ports and a 4-in-1 card reader.

The CloudBook will ship with the gOS Rocket Linux-based operating system. Preloaded applications include OpenOffice, Firefox and Skype. Everex claims a battery life of five hours. The notebook will be available from Jan 25th 2008 exclusively at WalMart for $399.

Latest Jan update, Everex has revised the Cloudbook’s shipping date to Feb 15th.

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For me, the hard drive size really elevates this above the EEE from a usability point of view. I would now expect that the planned 8 and 8.9 inch EEE versions will have similar sized drives to stay in the game.
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Stay tuned for a CloudBook hands on…

Feb 17th update: The trackpad implementation on the Cloudbook looks nasty…I bought an EEE today.

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See photos and read CES news about: Laptops & UMPCs, Home Entertainment, Media Players, Cellphones, Gaming and Trick Technologies.
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To read all the CES 2008 articles, click here.
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For details of the new Asus R50 UMPC, click here.
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Neil Berman
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http://www.neilberman.com/

Jan 13, 2008 Posted by | Mobile | , | 2 Comments

Prett-EEE

The colored Asus EEE PCs have arrived, with matt pastel lids. Only the 2Gs get the treatment with cutely named Sky Blue (above), Blush Pink and Lush Green (below) on offer. If ‘lush’ conjures up images of rich green fields, then think again. These colors are more like fun pastels than deep hues.

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Unfortunately the 2G does not seem to be available in Pearl White or Galaxy Black. The cheapest route to those colors is the $349 4G Surf models. Please correct me if you know otherwise…I’d love to be proved wrong on this.
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Click here for the full Asus EEE PC review.

Neil Berman

http://www.neilberman.com/

Dec 30, 2007 Posted by | Mobile | | Leave a comment

Asus EEE PC Review


Latest: Click here to read the CES 2008 laptop and UMPC news, including details of the Asus R50 UMPC

After weeks of low supply, the Asus EEE PC has finally appeared. I spent some eagerly awaited quality time with the small, cute and cheap 4G model.

UMPCs: When size does matter

Next to a regular ultraportable the Asus EEE PC is noticeably smaller. It´s also thinner, most likely due its lack of optical or mechanical hard drives. It does however still manage to pack in a VGA output, Ethernet port and 3 USB 2.0 connectors without needing a port replicator.

The screen is also smaller than most ultraportables at seven imches, the same size as Samsung’s Q1 series. However in the case of the EEE this seems to be to keep the cost down than anything else.

The lid can actually accommodate a couple more inchesof screen space and the resulting look is of a laptop from the mid 1990s with a wide screen border.

The keyboard is also a shrunken affair but is surprisingly easy to use. I was able to type lines of text accurately without any need to acclimatize. This will depend on finger size but I was pleasantly surprised. For such a thin laptop the keys also have a positive feel with a decent amount of travel.

The EEE PC has a traditional trackpad which has a separated section on the right hand side. Using the media player this section controlled playback volume. The trackpad was fairly responsive to movement but less so to taps, although it is usable. There´s only one button, like a Mac, but improving on Apple’s design the left side of the button gives a left click and the right side gives a right click (thanks for the pointer Neil). Great idea and works well in practise.


In comparison to competitors, the EEE dwarfs the Fujitsu U810 (above) and Sony UX380N (below).
These both have smaller screens and keyboards also, as well as oddly placed mouse control, to the extent that they are really for emergency use in my opinion. Samsung´s Q1 has the same size screen but an almost impossibly small thumboard, although for desk use you could always add an external keyboard. All three competitors are far more expensive than the EEE PC.
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Latest: Click here to read the CES 2008 laptop and UMPC news
The colored EEEs are now available, click here for photos.

It’s cheap, but can I actually use this thing in real life?

Switch on the EEE and it boots quickly (I counted 24 seconds) into a home screen with big icons and tabs. It looks ultra easy to use and find what you want.


In this regard it’s similar to the iPhone home screen. But then I always thought the iPhone home screen looks simple because it only has a few preloaded applications. The EEE is similar, with limited applications it’s easy to give everything a big icon. I expect most owners will never add any applications anyway, as much of what you need to get going is included right out of the box.

The EEE ships with internet, office and media playback software sitting on top of its Linux operating system. The look and feel is overtly Windows XP and when I was using the file explorer I actually had to do a double-take to check I was not using an early shipment of XP preloaded EEEs.


Following years of anti-Microsof sentiment from some corners of the IT community, it is somehow ironic that Windows has become so popular that competitors either mimic it or allow users to run it on their own environment to attract switchers.

Using the internet browser will be straightforward for most owners, with the exception that some sites optimized for Internet Explorer may not work properly. I occasionally find this on my Macbook and Nokia tablet with their respective Safari and Mozilla browsers. Similarly the office software is not Microsoft Office so again there may be compatibility issues if you are trying to share files with MS Office users, although some common file formats are supported. The media player is also less friendly than iTunes or Windows Media Player but is usable nonetheless.

All of this of course results from the low cost of the EEE. Building a Linux system is much cheaper than building a Mac or Windows system. Unfortunately file, application and peripheral compatibility is where you ultimately pay for this. So make sure that whatever you want to do is Linux compatible before you purchase your EEE. The alternative is to either install Windows (which can be done by running the installation from an external drive), or wait for the Windows preloaded version to be released. Of course this will have a cost implication and if you then want to run Microsoft Office then this is another $150 as a home user.

The EEE PC 4G’s lid houses a webcam. This is missing from the cheaper models in the range, but a fantastic feature to have if you can afford a higher end EEE. The quality of the camera is on a par with similar devices in other laptops. Every laptop should have one of these!

EEE owners are likely to take their units around with them due to the small sixe, so how is it likely to stand up to road use? First impressions are that the EEE seems well built with an assuringly solid looking hinge mechanism. Apart from this and the keys, the EEE is pretty low on moving parts. There are no mechanical hard or optical drives to break in transit so some risk associated with traditional laptops is not present in the EEE. Of course it is still vulnerable to failure like all electronics, but hopefully Asus’ choice to go for a solid state drive will save many a users’ data on a bad day.

So is it the bEEE’s knEEE’s?

If you’re a light, or adventurous, user then don’t let my compatibility comments put you off. For mobile corporate users running thin client software this is also a winning solution. It’s the middle tier of users I think are likely to struggle. These are the people who want to do funky things now and again and might not have the knowledge to do it quickly in Linux. If you’re one of these people then you may prefer to wait for the Windows version.

If on the other hand you’re happy with EEE’s preloaded goodies or are a Linux lover then this is the IT bargain of 2007. Expect other companies to follow…

May 2008 update: Read the Asus EEE 900 vs HP Mini-Note 2133 comparo here.

Jan 2008 update: As predicted above, others have followed. Read about Everex’s $399 here.

See photos and read CES news about: Laptops & UMPCs, Home Entertainment, Media Players, Cellphones, Gaming and Trick Technologies.
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To read all the CES 2008 articles, click here.

For details of the new Asus R50 UMPC, click here.

The colored EEEs are now available, click here for photos

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Dec 9, 2007 Posted by | Mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

More EEE…

Who said beta testing isn’t glamorous?

Right hand side sports SD-HC reader compatible with cards up to 32GB, two USB ports and VGA out:

Left hand side houses ethernet, modem, a third USB and mic/line ports:

Small keys demand good aim. Trackpad familiar for laptop users:

Base and lid are super-thin:

Hands-on review coming soon…

Neil Berman

www.neilberman.com

Nov 25, 2007 Posted by | Mobile | | 2 Comments

Asus EEE, Where Art Thou?

The Asus EEE PC is here. At under four hundred dollars, this is THE hottest property in IT right now.

With a proper stength Intel processor, the two pound ultraportable ships with Linux (Windows XP version apparently on the way), an integrated webcam and a solid state 4Gb hard drive for ultra-fast access times. Wifi, USB and an SD expansion slot are included.
There are also 8Gb and 2Gb hard drive versions in the range with 1Gb and 256Mb of RAM respectively. All models are Windows XP and Linux compatible and have a seven inch screen.
“Where can I get one of these must-buy miracles?” I hear you ask. Good question. They are such hot property that J&R sold out straight away, with no definite date for replacement stock. Watch this space for pics and a review as soon as I manage to get my hands on one!

Neil Berman

www.neilberman.com

Nov 22, 2007 Posted by | Mobile | , | Leave a comment

   

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