’s Mini-Review of the Asus EEE PC 701

PC Corner-Gilmore ended my friend Jang’s agonizing wait yesterday (Nov. 10) by forking over one fresh unit of the much-awaited Asus EEE PC 701. Thanks to Jang that she gave me an opportunity to check out her new gadget and for giving me the chance to do this mini-review.

What did she get? Its an EEE PC 701 4G model with the memory upped to 1GB. Color is white.

The EEE PC came in a small white box.

The package contained the following: the EEE PC, the battery, charger, a CD with Windows XP installers, and user, warranty and battery guides and brochures.

Also included: a handsome sleeve case with a ASUS logo which fits the EEE PC quite nicely.

The first thing I love about the EEE PC is its size. It is just right for highly mobile professionals (like writers and journalists). You can place it in any decent bag and no one would know you are prepared to get connected to the internet or to start working on a document or a spreadsheet. At its price, EEE PC is by far the cheapest small notebook computer. Here is the EEE PC with a Nokia 1112 beside it:

With an open palm on top of it:

The computer’s body is made of plastic, feels durable to my grasp and I hear no creaks.

Ports on the left: RJ 45 (for wireline broadband), modem (for dialup and fax), one USB port, and the speaker/headset and microphone outlets

On the right: A card reader that accepts regular-sized SD and MMC cards. Smaller SD and MMC derivatives may also be used provided they have adapters. Also, two more USB ports (for a total of three), a video-out, and a small open for Kensington locks.

The EEE PC’s lithium-ion battery is said to last for three and a half hours. But I wasn’t able to test if its true! It is small though and not as long as the length of the PC.

The battery latches to the bottom and has two locks to the left and right of the battery slot to keep it securely in place.

Unlike the usual laptop adapters, the EEC PC looks like a cellphone charger. This is due perhaps to the thought that such a handy PC should have a handy adapter and everybody should agree, right? The size is a little thicker and bigger than the standard Nokia cellphone chargers. The adapter is exactly the type for Philippine power outlets, so you don’t need adapters for your adapters. From this photo, the EEE PC adapter is comparable with the Mac adapters in color and design. When not in use, the adapter’s pins can be conveniently folded to the adapter’s body.

To turn on the computer, just click the power button on the upper right hand of the keyboard. The startup is perky and quick. No long waits because there are no stupid programs that hog your memory which is the case when you use Windows.

The screen is really small — seven inches diagonally — but is bright and clear to the eyes.

You can open the cover up to an angle of perhaps 160 degrees.

The combination of installed software is impressive. You will have everything a casual user will need: Open Office suite for documents, spreadsheets and presentations. There’s also the Firefox browser, Thunderbird email client, Pidgin for your Yahoo!/GTalk/AIM/MSN messenger accounts, Skype, internet radio. Just like other Linux-powered computers, adding/removing software is easy. There’s an icon devoted solely for this purpose.

In the last photo, you can’t notice it but the speakers are located on the left and right sides of the screen. Sounds that come out of it are loud and not muffled.

Speaking of sounds, the EEE PC has pre-installed applications that will be able to handle all types of music and video.

For those who say they get bored with the EEE PC, there’s a whole slew of games:

These are the most popular ones but there are more pre-installed to keep the EEE PC owner busy and entertained.

Another feature is the 0.3 megapixel webcam that is located just above the screen. The location surprised me. I thought that it was found just above the keyboard where the power button is!

As you can see in the next photos, the webcam gives out clear images.

My impressions

This is not a “complete” PC and the PC Corner salespersons stressed it no end to my friend Jang. They said it is not a replacement for a desktop or laptop computer. My view about this claim is mixed.

Yes, it may not be a desktop or laptop replacement. If you already have a desktop or laptop computer at home or office, this is a “perfect companion” so you can continue working in between and in various places. But this doesn’t mean that the EEE PC cannot stand on its own.

Anyone looking for a notebook computer that does the basic tasks won’t be disappointed with the EEE PC. It is also really small and thus gives mobile professionals the convenience of bringing a PC with them. For me, this product’s strongest suit is the excellent combination of small size and available functions. At its current price, the EEE PC gives buyers the best bang for their hard-earned pesos, especially for highly-mobile professionals.

Thanks to the customized Xandros Linux operating system, the EEE PC empowers the user with software that enables him/her to work, play, learn, among others, as advertised. I am confident that the software selection will satisfy most users. Besides, the software selection may still be customized through the Add/Remove Applications icon. (I am also certain that there will be tips and tricks to make the Xandros operating system on the EEE PC look like the more familiar Windows XP if the argument all boils down to familiarity).

The EEE PC may not have big built-in storage (just 4GB, with less than 2GB available to the user) and has no optical drive for CDs and DVDs either, but some people don’t need immense storage space. Neither do these people use computers to watch films. The problem may easily be solved too with prices of flash storage devices and other USB devices quickly falling: Users may just maximize the EEE PC’s three USB ports to extend its functions.

Despite the fact that it came out quite late due to repeated postponements and delays in shipments to the Philippines, my view is that the EEE PC is really a stellar product. It should compel other manufacturers to provide similar products at competitive prices. More importantly, considering the EEE PC’s price, I long to see the day when most students and professionals have computers to empower them in their studies and work which will be easier to happen if prices come tumbling down from the current high levels.

Two of my friends already have EEE PC’s and an NGO based in Baguio has placed orders for two units. I think they made a good choice and I intend to join them.

To see all the EEE PC photos I took and used for this review, please visit my Flickr page.

For “complete” links to EEE PC reviews, photos, videos and more stuff, please go here.