DigiLegend case for EEE

February 5, 2008

Unlike the other cases which I have reviewed, the Digilegend case is a satchel-style, with a shoulder strap (but no shoulder pad). This makes it absolutely ideal for carrying around; with the weight of the EEE, it would be very easy to sling the case of your shoulder and forget about it. As one might expect, the shoulder strap is adjustable, so you can make it as long or as short as you wish (within reason!); it’s worth noting, though, that you cannot remove the strap completely without modifying the case, as it is sewn firmly in place at one end, although you could tuck it into the bag. However, if you do not want a bag with a shoulder strap, then, this probably isn’t the bag for you, really; the shoulder strap is a useful selling point, to my mind.

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The case has relatively thin padding all on all sides, and is made of reasonably sturdy canvas-like material, which should protect your EEE from most scratches- it is a robust case. However, I would not expect it to offer much, if any, protection from a fall, although, it is not advertised as being shock-proof, or anything like that; in this respect, it does, however, offer more protection that the Asus slip-case supplied with the EEE, it would seem, although, if you really were concerned, you can just about fit the EEE in the slip case into this Digilegend case, although, it is a tight fit.

In terms of keep the case firmly shut, Digilegend employs a clip fastener, which is a very good idea – it has a good, solid action, and feels sturdy, so I would not be worried about it coming undone accidentally. This is pretty important if you a planning on chucking the case over your shoulder, and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only case for the EEE which incorporates this type of clasp. As well as being secure, it is quick to open – when your computer boots in 30 seconds, you don’t want to have to spend a minute or so trying to get the thing out of the case first!

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The flap comes completely over the top of the case, and, in what I think is a clever design, the top of the bag part of the case is slightly tapered; the EEE can be easily slipped in and out, but means that none of the EEE is exposed- a very nice touch. The interior of the case is split into a main pocket and a front pocket, both of which are under the flap. The main pocket will hold the EEE, and the front pocket a small external hard drive, or, with a noticeable bulge, the AC adapter. Because of the way the case is held shut, I’d be confident carrying around the EEE and the adapter without having either falling out. In fact, I was able to hold all my EEE accessories in this case (including my spare battery), although, as you can see from the photograph, it was a bit of a push. If you are out and about, and want to have the EEE with you, though, it’s certainly doable.

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The case itself is relatively light, and does not add substantial bulk to the EEE. In this respect, it’s great for keeping all your EEE’s accessories together in one place, ready to grab and go. Other than the printed Digilegend motif on the centre of the flap, the case is matte black, which is excellent if you do not wish to draw attention to it. Because of its size, it does not really look like a laptop case, which I think is a bonus, although it does look a little more corporate than, say, the Fabrix cases. I’d certainly have no qualms using this case in the office, or in my personal life.

The price also goes very much in favour of the Digilegend case- it is $17.50, with payment due via PayPal. At the current exchange rate, this makes the case less than £9, which is pretty remarkable, all things considered. Certainly, I’d be happy to carry my EEE around in this case, both in terms of practicality, robustness and looks, so I think could be a very good investment for those who want a case with a shoulder strap.

The review was prepared with a sample supplied by 3eportal. You can purchase directly from 3eportal.


Fabrix Case for EEE

January 28, 2008

If you like the idea of the slip case which comes supplied with the non-Surf EEEs, but want something which offers more protection, and a whole load more personality, you are going to be more than interested in the Fabrix cases for the EEE… Certainly not for the shy, retiring types, the two cases which I have are nothing short of beautiful, even if colours and patterns are not necessarily to everyone’s tastes. The cases come in two types: the basic “sleeve” case, and the “Delux case”, which is similar in design to that of Asus’ supplied slip case, with a couple of additions.

Whereas the Asus case is made of thin fabric, each of the Fabrix cases is padded- it is heavily cushioned, which should offer the EEE increased protection against accidental bumps and knocks. It remains, however, a fabric case, so I would not expect it to save the EEE from a substantial drop, or a particularly hard life – for my day to day travelling (both walking to the office, when I just put the EEE, in its case, into a larger bag, and also flying to various countries, in which case it comes with me as hand luggage), it would be more than sufficient, but, I’d probabaly prefer something a little more solid for a hiking holiday etc, although, as the EEE is a pretty robust machine of its own right, you may well be absolutely fine. Fabrix is very upfront and honest about this – the cases as described as protection against “scratches and light bumps”.

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The fit is very good – these cases are clearly designed for the EEE. With the flip-over top / retaining strap in place, the EEE is held very snugly; there is no room for movement. Equally, this means that there is no room for accessories; whilst it might be possible to slide a portable harddrive into the case, you do run the risk of scratching the EEE, as there is no interior partition, or space for one. There is, however, a small pocket on the back of the case – this is fine for a small notebook, or a CD, spare SD cards etc, but nothing more than that. At a push, you could fit your AC adapter, but, I personally wouldn’t do this myself, as it would ruin the lines of the case.

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The Delux case has a “traditional” flip-over top (very similar to the supplied case), which fastens securely with Velcro. The style offers greater protection over the sleeve, as the EEE is completely enclosed. However, it is not possible to add handles to this design. In short, it is a padded and brightly-coloured version of Asus’ slipcase. It’s priced at just under $39.

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The Sleeve style has a small flap, for holding the EEE in place; this does secure the EEE, but, leaves the edge somewhat open to the elements; the flap covers around a third of the top of the EEE, as the photograph more clearly shows. The key difference of this style, however, is the ability to customise the case to your requirements- you can choose whether the case is landscape or portrait (portrait would offer greater protection, as there is less EEE exposed), whether it has a back pocket (similar in design to the back pocket on the Delux model) as well as the option to add handles (long/short, fabric/leather) to either side of the flap. This turns the case into a handbag, which might make it less appealling to some, but, it’s entirely optional. The handles are firmly attached, so I’d be confident carrying the EEE around in this case, and, for those who tend to carry a handbag, this could be an attractive option. Without any options, the case is just under $33; the case as shown in my photographs had small fabric handles and a back pocket (it was horizontal, for the record, but that does not change the price), and is just under $53.

It is, without question, the fabric which makes these cases unique – whilst I have not gone out looking, I cannot recall seeing any laptop cases that look anything like these at all. Whilst the patterns and colours pictured here may not appeal to everyone, there is little doubt that they are stunning, with vivid colours and designs; they are beautifully made, and, according to the packaging material, “handcrafted.” I find that the EEE is a very personal device, because it is so small, and I tend to carry it round with me (like my smartphone), and, as such, I think there’s a good argument for having a case which is just as personal – there are plenty of generic, boring cases on the market, so, having something which stands out may be no bad thing. Fabrix supplies the cases in a variety of designs, so, there should be something to suit most tastes, with a very smart-looking pin-stripe being the most conservative. Here, the Delux case is “Black Amber”, and the Sleeve is “Black Flora”.

The Fabrix cases offer the benefits of padding (which does, it must be said, add a fair bulk to the case), and, optionally, handles, but, most of all, offers a degree of personality which the corporate Asus case cannot hope to match. With the fully-customised sleeve (the more expensive of the two cases here) at approximately £27 at today’s exchange rate, the prices are not cheap, but neither are they unreasonable- these cases are well-made, with solid stiching and good construction. Shipping is an extra $9, so this should be factored in also – however, as the cases come from Singapore, this is not excessive, in my opinion. If you want a case for your EEE which is aesthetically somewhat out of the ordinary, Fabrix could well be the case manufacturer for you.

This review was prepared with samples supplied by Fabrix Cases. You can purchase the cases directly from the Fabrix website, or else find details of resellers.


Case Logic HDC-1

December 29, 2007

Case Logic Hard Drive case

I was looking for a case for my EEE, which would offer more protection that the supplied slipcase, allow me to carry my power supply, hard drive and other small accessories, but without the bulk of a “full” laptop case. Case Logic’s hard drive case (HDC-1) caught my eye, and, through an Amazon Marketplace vendor for £13.50, I decided to give it a go, and see whether it would suit my needs for carrying my EEE or not.

The case is nicely made, with a substantial feel to it. The external colouring of the case is quite understated, being a mixture of black and reasonably dark grey, with a variety of materials used in the construction. The inside of the case is a bright yellow colour, but, as this is hidden away for most of the time, this doesn’t bother me. The zip feels solid, and the ends are padded, in case you accidentally knock into something. The body of the case is made from reasonably thick material, but, the whole thing encourages me to trust it holding my EEE. The hand is small, but is also padded, so it is unlikely to cut into your hand too much. My preference would have been for a shoulder strap, but, perhaps the number of people who wish to carry their hard drives over their shoulder is limited; in any case, it would be possible to add a loop to the handle, to give me this capability, should I want to do so in the future.

The inside of the case has a vertical divider, which is stitched on one side, and held in place by Velcro on the other. I’ve found that this divider is best kept “floating”, so do not bother to attach the Velcro; this approach didn’t seem satisfactory at first, but, with the amount that I want to carry in this case, it ended up being the only practical approach. So, what do I have in my case?

Contents

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  • Asus EEE
  • Power supply
  • Western Digital Passport 250GB HDD
  • Bluetooth dongle
  • USB corded mini travel mouse
  • Spare battery (checked by removing my current battery, for when my spare battery arrives)

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It’s a bit of a tight fit, but not to the extent that I am worried about breaking, or even scratching, any of the items. For smaller items (in my case, the mouse and the Bluetooth dongle) there is a small, zippered compartment in the top of the case (the flap which opens), which would be suitable for storing memory cards and the like; I didn’t notice this at first, although, it is clearly visible in the photograph above. With all my kit in position (everything goes in the same place each time, and there is a packing order to get it in correctly), the zip fastens without a problem, but, the case does bulge slightly. Without the extra battery, this is significantly reduced, so, should be absolutely fine for most people.

Zipped

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Overall, and notwithstanding the slightly bulging sides, I am very pleased with this case, as it means that I can have everything to do with my EEE in one place. The price was very reasonable (even after delivery at about £4.50), and I am now carrying me EEE around with me, with confidence that it will not come to harm, and with the advantage of all my accessories being in one place – I just need to remember to grab the one bag in the morning.

The case appears to be available from PCWorld and the like, as well as online.


Brando Eee PC Case Review

December 15, 2007

Eee PC owners have had to wait a while for the first cases to appear but finally they are starting to ship. The Eee PC is so portable that it simply must have a case because it is likely to be carried on a train, dumped in a briefcase and go through the rigors of it’s owners for a large proportion of the day. My ideal case must keep the portability of the Eee PC itself and thus act as a protective skin, without adding too much bulk.

The Brando case is designed to carry the Eee without adding any bulk, yet still affords good protection thanks to the fairly rigid leather structure. The front and back are protected well but there is little protection on the sides and back. To be fair, this is a logical compromise because the Eee has a lot of ports that the user will require access to and the Brando case leaves them all open for use when in situ. The ‘in situ’ ability of this case is what I like the most because I can use the Eee 100% with the case attached, as I am now, and I strongly suspect that the Eee will be spending 98% of it’s life shrouded in $38 of leather for here on in.

On the underside are 5 sets of air vents which is good to see. Those of you who own an Eee will know that it can get a bit hot during prolonged periods of use and thus ventilation is essential. The Eee is held in place by a strip below the keyboard that surrounds the trackpad with holes for the front LEDs, SD card slot and headphone/mic jacks. Fortunately this strip is thin enough to not interfere with the trackpad and actually feels more comfortable when resting your hands on it than the bare Eee PC.

When closed the case is secured by the now standard magnetic circular set up and is placed far enough in to stop accidental undoing when picking it up. It is difficult to write case reviews at the best of time because they are ultimately just pieces of leather designed to suit a particular device. If they are designed well, made of good quality materials and good value for money then they deserved to be recommended. In the case of the Brando case, I am pleased to say that it ticks all 3 boxes and would be a good purchase for any Eee owner. The inclusion of 4 SD slots and a slot for credit and business cards is an added bonus. I suspect my search for a case for my Eee is now well and truly over…

Available from http://shop.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=02253 for US$38.00


Brando Eee PC case

December 15, 2007

My Brando Eee PC case has just arrived- expect a review tomorrow. First impressions are good value at $38 and Brando is offering free shipping until 8th January.

Brando Workshop Leather Case is made of fine genuine leather. The leather case offers high protection for your device. It features a slim, perfectly fit and stylish design.


Eee PC Review (part 3)

November 10, 2007

Over the past 5 days I have been using the Eee PC for all of my article writing and freelance work and can confirm that the keyboard is perfectly useable for extended periods of time, without cause undue strain to your fingers. If you have particularly fat fingers you may struggle but your fingers would need to be rather fat indeed (no offence to fat fingered people meant:))

The screen is small, as I have mentioned before a few times, but it is more than adequate for word processing and most business activities. There is a video port as well, should you wish to hook it up to a larger monitor to save your eyes a bit. Talking of ports, there are more than enough for most users with 3 USB ports, a network port, security port and an SD card reader. A quick test with my SHDC card was positive and with the price of these cards dropping quickly it should be possible to add a further 8GB quite cheaply.

The Eee feels robust and more than sturdy enough to cope with daily demands although the top now has 2 small scratches on it. It is slightly tricky to open first time and the person I stupidly showed it to dropped it onto my desk at work whilst opening it up. It fell on top of a stapler and then bounced onto my laptop- 2 small scratches is a good price to pay for that stupidity and is hopefully a sign of a tough tool for my daily work.

It does become hot after prolonged use but not unreasonably so and there is a strange whirring noise most of the time. I can’t say that this whirring is any worse than other laptops but it is noticeable. With time comes familiarity and within a couple of days I felt completely at home with the Eee and love the fact that I can do so much on such a small unit. The Psion 7 was my idea of the perfect mobile workhorse, but the lack of communication and up to date functions holds it back in 2007, which is understandable. The Eee is a worthy replacement for a Psion 7 and it has been of benefit in ensuring that I am much more productive than I have been for a long time.

The Eee itself is not the only reason I am now more productive- any device in this new genre would be advantageous to people like me and I genuinely believe that there is a BIG market out there for this kind of device, even if Palm (Foleo) and others do not agree.

The discussion of PDAs being laptop replacements has rumbled on for many years but I have never bought that idea, not for one minute. Even the latest Smartphones struggle to cut it for long periods of data creation- my TyTN II has a decent keyboard which is great for emails and the like but the small screen and keyboard are not really of use for laptop type work. The Nokia E90 is bigger but again, it is far from a laptop replacement and more of a device you use when your laptop is not available.

I think of all smartphones as being devices that are ideal for communication and organisation when out of the office or away from home.

I think of laptops as not being portable enough to use in many locations.

I think of the Eee as the ideal bridge between my desktop and smartphone, and it is what I have been waiting for since Psion stopped innovating in the consumer market.

ASUS have put the Eee together extremely well and created a unit that works with the owner. You need little knowledge to get started, it is quick to use and in my opinion is a genuine laptop replacement. Barring the physical limitations of the smaller than average screen and keyboard, it does everything I need and I am starting to feel strangely attached to it.

There are some niggles such as limited battery life but hopefully these will be overcome with extended accessories soon. For now, it is a great great device and at just over £200 is a complete bargain. There is no way on earth I am letting this one go back!

Available from www.clove.co.uk.


Eee PC Review (part 2)

November 10, 2007

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.