Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

An Eee PC

7th October 2010

Having had an Asus Eee PC 1001 HA for a few weeks now, I thought that it might be opportune to share a few words about the thing on here. The first thing that struck me when I got it was the size of the box in which it came. Being accustomed to things coming in large boxes meant the relatively diminutive size of the package was hard not to notice. Within that small box was the netbook itself along with the requisite power cable and not much else apart from warranty and quickstart guides; so that’s how they kept things small.

Though I was well aware of the size of a netbook from previous bouts of window shopping, the small size of something with a 10″ screen hadn’t embedded itself into my consciousness. In spite of that, it came with more items that reflect desktop computing than might be expected. First, there’s a 160 GB hard disk and 1 GB of memory, neither of which is disgraceful and the memory module sits behind a panel opened by loosening a screw so I am left wondering about adding more. Sockets for network and VGA cables are included along with three USB ports and sockets for a set of headphones and  for a microphone. Portability starts to come to the fore with the inclusion of an Intel Atom CPU and a socket for an SD card. Unusual inclusions come in the form of an onboard webcam and microphone, both of which I plan on leaving off for sake of privacy. Wi-Fi is another networking option so you’re not short of features. The keyboard is not too compromised either and the mouse trackpad is the sort of thing that you’d find on full size laptops. With the latter, you can use gestures too so I need to learn what ones are available.

An Eee PC

The operating system that comes with the machine is Windows XP and there are some extras bundled too. These include a trial of Trend Micro as an initial security software option as well as Microsoft Works and a trial of Microsoft Office 2007. Then, there are some Asus utilities too though they are not so useful to me. All in all, none of these burden the processing power too much and IE8 comes installed too. Being a tinkerer, I have put some of the sorts of things that I’d have on a full size PC on there. Examples include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader and Adobe Digital Editions. Pushing the boat out further, I used Wubi to get Ubuntu 10.04 on there in the same way as I have done with my 15″ Toshiba laptop. So far, nothing seems to overwhelm the available processing power though I am left wondering about battery life.

The mention of battery life brings me to mulling over how well the machine operates. So far, I am finding that the battery lasts around three hours, much longer than on my Toshiba but nothing startling either. Nevertheless, it does preserve things by going into sleep mode when you leave it unattended for long enough. Still, I’d be inclined to find a socket if I was undertaking a long train journey.

According to the specifications, it is suppose to weight around 1.4 kg and that seems not to be a weight that has been a burden to carry so far and the smaller size makes it easy  to pop into any bag. It also seems sufficiently robust to allow its carrying by bicycle though I wouldn’t be inclined to carry it over too many rough roads. In fact, the manufacturer advises against carrying it anywhere (by bike or otherwise) with switching it off first but that’s a common sense precaution.

Start-up times are respectable though you feel the time going by when you’re on a bus for a forty minute journey and shutdown needs some time set aside near the end. Screen resolution can be increased to 1024×600 and the shallowness can be noticed, reminding you that you are using a portable machine. Because of that, there have been times when I hit the F11 key to get a full screen web browser session. Coupled with the Vodafone mobile broadband dongle that I have, it has done some useful things for me while on the move so long as there is sufficient signal strength (seeing the type of connection change between 3G, EDGE and GPRS is instructive). All in all, it’s not a chore to use so  long as Internet connections aren’t temperamental.

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