Eee PC review (part one)

The ASUS Eee PC has been greeted with much anticipation in the smartphone and gadget world and with good reason. On the face of it, we have a well specified device at a very low price point and a design which looks more than acceptable in the publicity photos. Mine arrived yesterday and for the first part of this in-depth look into the Eee I will concentrate purely on the hardware and the bits and pieces that come with the device itself.

In the box

In the box you get a couple of small manuals, a DVD, power charger and a slip case plus of course the EeePC. Nothing really jumps out as being of startlingly good quality but the EeePC itself feels well built and strangely, heavier than the specs suggest. The slip case is just a bit of material which covers the Eee and as such, offers very little protection. Having said that, it is good to have a case included because many manufacturers still fail to do so. There is a feeling of good build quality married with an almost toy like appearance, at least in the white version. This may sound silly but I couldn’t help but liken it to a kid’s laptop in appearance.

Dimensions

The size of the Eee is striking and will be perfect for those of you who want to be able to work and play when away from home, yet not have to carry a full sized laptop around with you. The depth of the unit is fairly good but the battery does add a little to the overall dimensions and handily adds a nice slant to the Eee when typing on a flat surface. There is a strange side effect to the size in that when you are typing on your lap, your knees have to bend inward and the resulting stance is a little strange:)

Keyboard

The keyboard is an area that warrants some criticism. Despite the small size of the Eee, I expected the keyboard to be more useable that it is. When compared to the keyboard on the aged Psion 7, it feels cramped and difficult to type on. This is a first impression though and time will tell as to how accurately and quickly I can knock out future articles on it. The mouse board is pretty standard and the vertical navigation strip is very useful, but the select key below the board has proved to be quite stiff and difficult to activate at times. It could just be my model, and it may loosen up, but initially this whole section of the Eee has proved to be a touch disappointing.

Screen

I really like the screen- it is small at 7” but the resolution is just about right to produce clear images and enough real estate when working on Office documents and spreadsheets. Outdoors it appears to be quite clear but sadly we have had a few days with little sunlight so I will update on it’s practicality in a future part of this review.

Extras

Having Wi-Fi included is a major bonus and the main reason this will present a tempting purchase to some but Bluetooth could have topped the package off nicely. Allowing communication with a mobile or smartphone out of the box would have increased the potential of this device. It is likely that this is still possible and I will experiment to see what works best. The 3 USB ports are quite generous in such a small unit and the external sound was a real shock when playing music. It was genuinely comparable to my iPod music dock, if not quite so loud.

The Web-Cam is fairly standard at only 0.3MP but again, this is an extra that should not be expected at this price point.

I have deliberately not gone into too much detail yet and will present a much longer follow up on Monday. As usual, I will concentrate on how the device works in the real world and how practical it really is. The Eee has created a very positive first impression though and hopefully, the little niggles I have can be overcome in the first few days of proper usage.

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

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