"Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play . " In English, easy translates to " E asy" , hence this Asus laptopis called Eee PC . For a week we have tested one of these machines (specifically the 4G edition) that are causing so much sensation in half the world. A computer of size and components reduced to the maximum , called to open a new hole in the market for low-cost terminals and with the basics to function .
The problem is that Asus is still not clear about which versions it will bring to Spain or at what price . And this is a determining factor when evaluating such a peculiar product. But we will put this issue to the end. Before we will tell you what we have found a model of this family with its pros and cons. To start, nothing better than to take a look at its design.
An elegant and discreet minicomputer
To the get the Eee PC out of its box, one realizes that it is more than just a portable ultralight : dimensions 225 x 165 x 21 mm and less than a kilo of weight (much lower than other ultralight Acer , Samsung , Dell or from Asus itself ). To understand each other, a device the size of a paper diary. Of the varied range of colors , we have chosen white, which was the first to come out and has a sober and elegant air .
At the opening, one appears 7 - inch screen ( 800 x 480 pixels ), flanked by two speakers elongated side and topped with an integrated webcam at the top, poor 0.3 megapixel resolution (VGA). At his feet, a very small QWERTY keyboard (for a laptop) and a touchpad with a microphone just below.
Design minimum , not minimalist, affecting up to one 's own power supply . Instead of connecting one cable from the computer to the source and another from the source to the wall, this Asus uses a charger similar to that of a mobile phone .
When you turn on the computer, it opens the operating system in just 20 seconds and it is silent like few others . This is because its internal components also are minimal .
The important thing is inside
And the interior of the Asus Eee PC 4G is characterized by its simplicity: Intel 900 MHz processor and 512 megabytes of RAM . Just enough. Something like the Sunday man who goes on a field trip with a bottle of beer and a can of sardines.
Despite these limitations, its operation is quite agile and correct , without errors or long waiting periods. Part of the fault is its operating system: a special version of Xandros that, like all Linux worth its salt, makes the most of resources.
The hard disk is solid state ( SSD ) and, indeed, it is also minimal: 4 gigabytes of space and more than half "eaten" by the installed software . For a decent storage with this Asus , we will have to connect an external device (be it a pendrive or an external hard drive ) to one of its three USB ports or use the SD memory card slot .
The computer does not have an optical disc reader (CD, DVD) , but we can make a recovery "disc" on a conventional USB memory.
The connections section is completed with headphone and microphone jack inputs , VGA output for external monitor and Ethernet port to connect to the Internet . Something that we can also do wirelessly through Wi-Fi . It is clear that it is not a high-performance laptop, but a machine that is committed to simplicity in components to reduce its price .
Tightening the nuts
Its handling is also extremely simple. On the screen we find six upper tabs that identify six areas for the user: Internet , Work, Learn, Play, Settings and Favorites . In each one, icons to access programs ( Skype , OpenOffice , instant messaging, games , educational programs in mathematics, science ...), websites ( Google , Wikipedia, Hotmail, Yahoo ...) and specific tasks ( documents, sensitivity control of the touchpad, connection to printer …). All good "chew", as they say.
It is designed to do basic things and without breaking our heads too much. Is it a children's computer? We would say yes. But Asus wants to demarcate this product from others like Negroponte's hundred-dollar computer (actually it costs more ), which is part of a Third World educational program ( OLPC ). The Eee PC , however, is intended to be useful for any type of user. As long as this user does not demand much of his machine.
And it is that as we try to do more complex tasks, inconveniences begin to arise . The screen, being so small, condemns us to have to use horizontal scroll bars on almost any web page. And no, you can't change the display settings. Solution: connect a larger external monitor to it .
When running on a version of Linux , its compatibility with programs is limited. We can install Windows XP , but of course, there is no reader for the CD or DVD. Solution: connect an external reader and enter the BIOS to use it as a boot drive and thus be able to install it .
External devices to have more memory, keyboard connected to USB if the size of our fingers does not allow us to type comfortably ... To function as a real computer, the Asus Eee PC needs more accessories than a Barbie. But it is that it does not want to be a normal computer, some will say, but a second PC, a "support machine" for executives with mobility needs or bloggers who want to post anywhere and at any time. Agree. But at what cost?
At first, the intention of Asus is to sell a model in Spain for 300 euros and another for 400 (one of the two could go out during January ), without specifying which (in this link you can see the basic characteristics of its four versions).
And hopefully they pull down, and are even closer to 200 euros . Because today, for about 500 euros, we can get much more capable laptops , especially if we are attentive to offers and sales in computer stores. And we are talking about computers that, unlike this Asus , do not have a free operating system, but the Windows license is included in their price . One could object: "but these computers are not anywhere near as portable, and in fact the prices of ultralights start around 1,000 euros and go up much more".The answer is simple: these ultralights are powerful machines, with considerable space on the hard disk and screens much more comfortable to look at (11-12 inches). In other words: a transhumant executive, the kind who needs to carry the office all day long, doesn't even have an Eee PC to begin with .
Who wants this Asus Eee PC 4G?
It is a good option as a computer for children , in fact its size is ideal for small hands (as are educational programs to see the periodic table, draw functions or study the constellations of the universe). For adults, we would recommend it whenever they seek, above all, ease of transport and very basic applications . As long as, as we have said above, Asus opts for a reasonable price range. We'll see.
The lightness, portability and speed of loading are unappealable attractions of the Asus EeePC , along with its careful design and how extremely quiet it is while it works. It also has other good details, such as the simplicity of the charger or the good integration of the camera and microphone for video calls, which are hardly seen.
It can improve
They could have put the speakers elsewhere to get a bigger screen size . This seems fundamental to us, and we certainly do not see logic in the fact that the available space is not used to the maximum. We have also been surprised that it does not automatically connect to our home wireless network or memorize the password . Instead, every time we start we have to search for Wi-Fi networks and enter the password ourselves, all manually.
Also, such a device should be equipped with Bluetooth for the sake of convenience. Finally, the autonomy is a bit short for a computer so small and that consumes so little: 3.5 hours with a 4-cell battery. Of course, a larger battery would end up protruding too much from the back of the laptop, breaking the lines of its design a bit.
|screen||7 ”TFT LCD WXGA (800 x 480 pixels)|
|Weight and measurements||225 x 165 x 21/35mm|
|Processor||Intel Celeron Mobile 900 MHz|
|Operating system||Xandros (Linux)|
Installed software: Open Office, Mozilla Firefox, Pidgin
|Compatible inputs and connectivity||3 USB ports|
SD memory card slot
S-Video / TV output
3.5 mm jack connection for headphones and microphone
Telephone line output and Ethernet connection
|Graphic card||Intel MGA900|
|Autonomy||3.5 hours (4 cell battery)|
|Price||399 euros (unconfirmed)|