Eee PC Review (part 2)

I talked on Friday about my first impressions of the Eee PC and since that time I have written all of my 247 articles and freelance work on the Eee itself. I have also used it to capture and manipulate images, compress them and email them. This is a genuine laptop replacement and the amount of software included in the package is enough to cover the vast majority of people’s usage. Here is a run down of what is included and comments on each application-

INTERNET TAB

Web Mail- a simple shortcut icon to Gmail, HotMail, Yahoo and AOL.
Web- Mozilla Firefox v2.0.0.7 (very quick and versatile- perfect for this device)
Information- an icon shortcut to iGoogle
Messenger- PidGin messenger (compatibility with the most popular IM services- works well and looks great)
Skype- you all know what that is (works surprisingly well)
Network- network connection manager
eBook- a simple link to your eBook folder (pointless?)
Google Docs- another link to a specific site
World Clock- a graphical representation of the world with mouse over time and location details for many cities
Wikipedia- a simple link again
Internet Radio- a simple link to mediaU (the service worked without a hitch straight away- a nice introduction to internet radio)
Wireless Networks- access point manager

The internet tab does contain a lot of links to sites but they are carefully chosen and the full appications are gems. Firefox, Messenger and Skype all work extremely well and provide essential tools for any power user.

WORK TAB

Accessories icon (includes calculator, PIM and Screen Capture)-Calculator (a simple interface hiding a powerful range of functions- it includes Light Speed calculations,  Atomic Mass  Units and Earth Accelleration among many other functions- superb!)
PIM (an Outlook style application with Mail, Contacts, Calendar, To Do list, Journal and Notes plus a Summary view. The various windows can feel cramped on the smaller screen but this will feel familiar to all Outlook users- I love it)
Screen Capture- this is ideal for people who need to take screenshots and has some thoughtful aspects to it’s implementation. One example is that when I took my first screenshot I called it eee1.PNG. The next screenshot offered me eee2.PNG and so on- simple but clever stuff. All of the most common image formats are supported as well.
Documents (part of the OpenOffice suite and my preferred application for document creation. All of my most needed features such as selection word count and lots of formatting options. Perfectly suited to the Eee screen.)
Spreadsheets (also from the OpenOffice suite and as good as Excel in my book).
Presentations (it is not Powerpoint but some would consider that a good thing- I like to see a presentation that looks a little different and this is adequate for basic presenting work).
PDF Reader (Adobe- enough said).
Mail (Mozilla Thunderbird- excellent!)
File Manager (a simple file manager with printer folder support and Windows network and NFS Network support- good enough)
Dictionary (the Longman version with over 88,000 definitions. Very basic but very quick- a useful addition)
Notes (basic post-it note style application. Does the job and little else)

The Work Tab contains the powerful applications which will be used most of the time and it goes to show that a lot of the free applications are just as good, if not better, than their commercial equivalents.

LEARN TAB

Science: Periodic Table (graphical table with data plotting and all sorts of other functions that go straight over my head), Planetarium (a visual guide to the stars including a telescope wizard, manual focus and lots of other bits and pieces). Both are impressive and would be vital if I understood them properly:)
Language: Typing (a fun game with a penguin. Sounds silly but could be useful for two finger typists), Letter Game (very simple word scramble game which is fun for about 3 seconds), Hangman Game (needs no introduction)
Maths: Fraction Tutorial (this game took me back to my school days and is extremely testing), TuxMath (a brilliant little space invader / maths game- my son loves this and it will really benefit him), Geometry (if you need this kind of visual tool you will greatly appreciate it’s inclusion- very impressive), Function Plotter (quite specialised but once again, it impresses greatly).
Paint: Paint (a basic image application which is much more feature packed that MS Paint, TuxPaint (this is a playful painting tool for children which was highly rated by my 3 year daughter)
Web Learn (a simple link to skoool.ie)

The Learn Tab contains many useful little tools and some of these are perfect for children. My son will benefit from the maths and word games and this adds yet another unexpected use to the Eee.

PLAY TAB

Games: Solitaire (standard implementation of the classic we all know and love), Frozen Bubble (Bust-a-move with good graphics, nice anomation and really good sounds- love it!), Crack Attack! (a different version of Same Game- very simple but strangely addictive), Penguin Racer (reminds me of an old VIC20 game- quite sweet), Sudoku (standard Sudoku game. zzzzz), Potato Guy (lovely little game for children), L Tris (standard Tetris clone).
Media Player (a video and audio player with many features including subtitles and a wide range of supported file formats- the performance is excellent, especially for video playback)
Music Manager (a surprisingly feature rich tool with cover manager, stream support and a half decent equalizer)
Photo Manager (excellent tool with a variety of features to make the most of your collection. Despite the relatively low resolution, the images are very clear and display well)
Video Manager (average tool which is liitle more than a file manager)
Webcam (mine appears to be broken- it made me look fat:) A nice addition though)
Sound Recorder (rather basic with a few options- first tests of the recording capability could be better, will experiment further)

The Play Tab includes some basic tools alongside the more advanced applications. The video and music playback are highlights of the Eee and this makes it a potential portable entertainment centre.

SETTINGS TAB (selected items mentioned)

Anti-Virus (KDE Anti-Virus tool which is difficult to judge at this time)
Printers (configurationa and installation tool for a wide range of models)
Personalization (change name, password, desktop theme and keyboard layout)
Diagnostic Tool (includes System Infoand System test)

FAVOURITES TAB

This is a simple tab on which you can add and remove your most used applications and games.

Listing the bundled software took a lot longer than I originally expected because there is just so much pre-installed, Most of it is GPL and thus available for free but the selection is intelligently put together and covers many common and not so common needs. I particularly like the educational applications, which my sone is already benefitting from and this has opened my eyes to the Linux operating system. I have a lot to learn with regard to tweaking it but out of the box, ASUS has created an environment that Windows users will be able to understand immediately– Linux lovers will hate me for this but at times I struggled to tell the difference between the two.

I found that the Eee had no problem coping with the resources needed for each application and that general speed was acceptable at all times. Considering the fairly low specification, the Eee coped well in general use and I would consider it to be faster than any other laptop I have owned, including my MacBook.

Tomorrow I will look at the practicality of the Eee and assessing how well it copes with daily use and how complete a unit it really is.

Available on pre-order from www.clove.co.uk.

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