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View Full Version : New Toy - Asus eee



starbase1
12-01-2007, 06:53 AM
I got myself one of the new Asus eee PC's yesterday, and I must say my initial impressions are very good indeed.

For those who have not heard about it, the most distinctive features are that it's about half the size of a normal laptop, comes with a version of Xandros Linux, no internal hard disk but 4gb of solid state disk. You can stick other operating systems onto it - it comes with instructions for getting XP onto it, and some people have even got the Mac OS onto them.

It's a bit low powered to deliver serious performance on XP, and I'm not sure what I will end up with. Though as it can boot from SD cards or USB memory sticks, there's nothing to stop me having a key ring with a variety of OS'es on...

As you might expect the keyboard is a bit small to say the least, but I found it surprisingly easy to use - perhaps this is because I am a fairly rapid 2 fingered typist. I suspect it would be a bit cramped for someone who types properly.


It's got 3 USB ports, wi-fi built in, lan cable sockets, monitor connection, built in web cam, one SD slot. The screen is 7", a bit small, but the desktop is well laid out using sets of large icons, and I found it very easy to use despite having rather dodgy eyesight.Small enough to slip into a normal bag, build quality feels excellent

I don't get on so well with the touch pad, which seems to like a finger more than a fingernail, and I find that a bit difficult to use with precision.

Loads of open source applications provided, including open office, and all the basics to get you going.

Best bit though is the price, at 220 it's a real bargain.

Nick

Stooch
12-04-2007, 09:21 AM
nice find! perfect computer to tune my car with. really good price. but the price seems to have jumped a bit. will wait a little for it to subside.

starbase1
12-04-2007, 12:29 PM
nice find! perfect computer to tune my car with. really good price. but the price seems to have jumped a bit. will wait a little for it to subside.

Understandable - and it looks like we will see a LOT of competition at the cheap end in the near future!

It's a lovely little machine though, and I am very glad I got it. I still hate the touchpad, but today on the way to work it made for a great way to watch some video on the bus!

bjornkn
12-04-2007, 01:40 PM
I'd love to have one too :)
The main use for it would be to control my cameras, particularly for lots of automatic bracketing steps when shooting HDR panoramas.

TheDAve
12-05-2007, 06:17 AM
The eee looks very interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing yours at one London get together.

If you want to 'pimp' your eee check out this link http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/04/the-20gb-eee-pc-mod/ to add 16GD storage and bluetooth.

DAve

starbase1
12-05-2007, 10:10 AM
Thanks for the suggestion - I intend to just use a small wad of SD cards and USB sticks!

starbase1
01-18-2008, 05:12 AM
I got to use the Asus eee a lot more on my recent trip to Moldova, and it was really useful, hard to see how I managed without it.

The hotel I was in had free wifi, which helped a lot. Connection to the wifi network was fast, simple, and reliable. I had a USB hard drive and various cards and memory sticks - really useful for transfering pictures out of my digital camera, and checking what had worked. Although the screen is small for a PC, it's big for a media player, and it's really good for playing vids on long flights! I had no need to use the built in web cam or skype, but I can see how they would be very useful for many travelers.

Of course, it's not a powerful machine, so you can't do serious graphics work on one. But it does all the basics really well. I particularly like the way it's small enough to slip into a normal bag, so you can avoid that 'mug me' look that conventional laptops provide so effectively. I got used to the small keyboard pretty quickly when it was my only machine, but it is small.

There are a few glitches and irritations. I hate the touchpad. The application tied to MP3's can't play MP3's! (though the video player can?!) The spelling checker in open office doesn't seem to work. The screen is a bit cramped for some web pages, but this was less of a problem than I expected. (And some clever people have knocked up simple drivers that will provide an effective larger size sampled down.

If you want a small, tough, cheap, immensely portable, basic computer at a low price, it's currently in a class of it's own.

So far I have stuck with the supplied Xandros software, but I'm feeling ready for some experiments!

Nick

Lito
01-18-2008, 08:04 AM
I am very interested in the device but I wish they had a model with 2 x 1gigabit ethernet ports on it. Then I could use it as a great and quiet linux firewall box that runs 24/7 :).

PIZAZZ
01-19-2008, 10:05 AM
I also picked one up recently. It is an amazing little guy. I went into the store I bought it at to purchase a OQO after already trying a Samsung Q1Ultra. I was ready to pay the $1800 for the OQO but ended up paying $400 for the EEE. Nice feeling walking out.

The mods available are becoming more and more easier as more people tinker with them. I plan on doing the internal Bluetooth and 16gig Ram stick as soon as possible.

Only thing I haven't been able to find is a way to make my Sprint Broadband USB adapter work. That would be nice to have since we do not have that many free Wifi zones around.

cresshead
01-19-2008, 10:09 AM
i'm just waiting for a step by step tutorial being online for putting xp on it and also having 1gig ram installed...i'd like to have it dual boot linux and xp and would be using a couple of 8gig sticks for memory and having the xp o/s on one of them....

8gig sticks are around 20 and 16gig sticks 40 from amazon.co.uk

once that's available i'll def go get one...
maybe someone will do a youtube vid on installing xp on it so i feel more confident that it's doable without lots of hassle.

the cpu is a 900mhz celeron running at around 600mhz which would be fine for editing scenes in 3dsmax and lightwave
whilst on the bus!...with a mouse of course!

cresshead
01-19-2008, 10:24 AM
looks like is can squeeze 3dsmax onto the small screen of the Asus eee pc
800x480 i'd move one of my old 3dsmax installs to it...maybe max7.5 [subscription version]

re lightwave i can't seem to get it to crunch down to 800x480...so is lightwave going to be do-able on the eee pc?...ie does the ee pc support a larger irtual desktop that push scrolls near the edge of the screen?

http://www.cresshead.com/wip_wait/eee_pc_grab.jpg

PIZAZZ
01-19-2008, 10:29 AM
WOW! A little more digging and lots more work and BAM! I got my WAN modem working perfectly.

This thing just keeps on rocking.>!

cresshead
01-19-2008, 10:33 AM
here's a grab of max crunched down to work at 800x480 res ready for the Asus eee pc.

can lightwave be edited to work at 800 x 480?

achrystie
01-19-2008, 11:26 AM
When they first advertised this thing before release as $199, I thought "fantastic" I can even outfit an entire classroom with these, then they came in at "minimum" $299 and I was a bit disappointed. My impression is that they could have hit $199, but because of the "buzz" decided to put it out initially at a higher price. Perfectly sound business decision, but it put it just "over the top" and annoyed me enough not to buy it.

I have a feeling when the initial purchasing is done worldwide prices on these first models, and the next gen models, will drop, so I suggest those that don't "need" one for travel hold off for the future.

As someone else said, I think there will be a lot of competition in this low end market soon.

That said, making it light, loaded with linux, and running of solid state memory is a great idea. I envision that magnetic media hard drives will die some day, as soon as the flash memory can support "enough" for the regular user and the write speeds increase a bit more. I also suspect that newer versions will be really good on power because of the lack of a rotating hard disk, but these first models aren't really there because they went really low end on the battery technology itself.

I have visions of having one of these for myself some day, a set of 24 for a classroom, and a NAS drive for storing files. Then I can port my entire teaching to digital and be a lot more efficient.

Some day, hopefully soon. :D

ABC

starbase1
01-20-2008, 04:49 AM
It comes with full instructions for installing XP. There are plenty of alternative OS'es too, in particular with various customised Linux versions available to download - just stick one on a SD card or stick and set it to bootable.

Worth visiting the eee user site forums to see what people are doing:
http://www.eeeuser.com/

There's also a lot of talk about XP pre installed very soon.

I think this is a mistake though - it does not have the horsepower to make a good CGI system. Similarly for the storage - it's not a lot more on the bigger models, and you are still going to need external...

Lovely little machine though!

cresshead
01-20-2008, 06:12 AM
well when i get one, it'll def get windows xp on it and have max installed!
...i made 4 books with 3d illustrations on my old sony celeron 600mhz with 256ram so having 512 ram and more hard drive space will be neat [my old sony had a 10gig hd] and i'll be putting a 4gig or 8gig sd card and a 8 gig usb mem stick.

just sorting out which on to get...seems the coloured ones have no camera and there's a a and b version out which the b version is missing a minipci
slot inside...

what i'm looking for is:-
4 gig base version with camera,
mini pci [so version'a'] and dual boot it with linux and windows xp then add a 4gig sd card
a 8gig usb mem stick
extra battery or the 6 cel battery
usb mouse

i woudn't mind a touch screen either but i think that's sort ''out there'' for me just now!

tis a cool idea of a mini pc and alot more interesting a device than say the macbook air

starbase1
01-20-2008, 10:46 AM
well when i get one, it'll def get windows xp on it and have max installed!
...i made 4 books with 3d illustrations on my old sony celeron 600mhz with 256ram so having 512 ram and more hard drive space will be neat [my old sony had a 10gig hd] and i'll be putting a 4gig or 8gig sd card and a 8 gig usb mem stick.

just sorting out which on to get...seems the coloured ones have no camera and there's a a and b version out which the b version is missing a minipci
slot inside...

what i'm looking for is:-
4 gig base version with camera,
mini pci [so version'a'] and dual boot it with linux and windows xp then add a 4gig sd card
a 8gig usb mem stick
extra battery or the 6 cel battery
usb mouse

i woudn't mind a touch screen either but i think that's sort ''out there'' for me just now!

tis a cool idea of a mini pc and alot more interesting a device than say the macbook air

Don't think dual boot - think in terms of installing an OS to a bootable SD card.

starbase1
01-20-2008, 10:48 AM
Here's a message reporting on how I got on with it on the eee on an extended trip to Moldova, as recently posted to the eee forums.

Asus eee, a field report.

I've just got back from a long trip to Moldova, with my Asus eee, when it was my only PC. This is also the first time I have only had access to a Linux machine, (my Linux experience is pretty basic too). So I thought it worth putting together a report on my experiences.

So far it is pretty much as straight out of the box, no extra software installed. It's a white, 4Gb model.

I must say I really like this little machine, and the more I try stuff with it, the better I like it.

The most distinctive physical characteristic is, of course, the size. And there's no getting away from the small screen and keyboard. I have to say up front, this is going to be something you are going to have to live with. If you want a small machine, it's unavoidable, and if you think this is a problem then you should probably look elsewhere. It's also important to note that this is in no way a powerful machine, so forget anything like heavy duty graphics rendering or video editing.

Physically it is very well built indeed - this was perhaps the biggest surprise when I got it - I really did not expect a machine that came in at such a low price to be so sturdy. I fell over on ice a couple of times, and it is just fine. I also think it looks very nice - and have had some admiring attention in bars when I have been using it.

One advantage of the size that is not immediately apparent is that you an just chuck it into a normal shoulder bag, and no one will know you have one. It's got to be good to lose that 'mug me' look when traveling.

The wi-fi worked superbly, and was pretty much idiot proof, at least as far as this idiot is concerned. There was good wi-fi in my hotel, and it was very handy to be able to use the net to check local attractions and airport info at my leisure. Also, owing to some local issues using chip and pin bank cards, it was very handy to be able to get at online banking - I felt much more comfortable and secure about using my own machine for this rather than one in a crowded Internet cafe.

Most web sites looked a lot better than I expected at this screen size, though I did have problems with a few, mainly those with the irritating ads that float over the top of the content. In one case this was bigger than the screen, and impossible to close! Time to install the ad block plug-in...

The eee seems well thought out for travel use in general, not least because it comes with Skype and a built in microphone and web cam. The web cam did not deliver a good image in the low light of my hotel room, but otherwise seemed fine - I did not have occasion to use it in anger.

The power supply is nice and compact too - more like a bulging plug than a big heavy black brick. It even has the option built in of switching between flat style 2 pin, and UK Style 3 pin built in. This is typical of the way the little details are nicely handled.

I also found it made an excellent media player - before leaving I had put some films onto a few SD cards, and it was great for the long flights. Worth considering that although the screen is small for a PC, it's actually very big for a media player at this price point! It played pretty much every video file I through at it, so you are unlikely to need to install extra codecs to get t going. I also had a chunky USB hard drive powered from the ports, but I avoided using this when the mains power was not connected. For in the hotel room, I also found it handy to use for audio without headphones - the built in speakers were OK for speech, though not up to good music reproduction.

One thing I was really keen to use the eee for was checking over my digital photos, and shuffling them around. I like to take panoramas by stitching together large numbers of images, and this can seriously stretch the memory card capacity. It was really very good for this, letting me check the quality of images much more thoroughly than the screen on the camera allowed, and letting me clear down the card onto the USB drive every evening. Indeed on the first day it showed I had accidentally knocked the focus settings to a dodgy setting, and I was getting slightly soft focus. It would have been horrible to discover this on every shot after getting home...

Now at this point I must admit it would have been great to have a seriously powerful machine, so I could actually try stitching the images. I've not tried any Linux stitching software, but I think it would have to struggle with the available memory, and even if it coped with that, I think the USB hard drive would have slowed it down to unacceptable levels.

I also used it to take notes with Open Office. This was fine, and I soon got used to the small keyboard. The included games are very basic, but even so I found myself enjoying Frozen Bobble. All the included applications, (and they cover all the basics), ran at perfectly acceptable speeds.

There were a few niggles.

* MP3 files are by default associated with an application that can't play MP3's. Silly when there is another program on it that plays them just fine.
* I could not work out how to turn on the spell checker in Open Office - particularly important when getting used to the keyboard.
* The layout of the keyboard is a bit unusual, and I did have problems finding control keys rapidly, though I am sure this will improve with practice.
* I still absolutely hate the little touch pad, I find it very fiddly and can't get on with it. A small cheap USB mouse fixed this.

Overall though it's an absolute bargain. Though it's not an all round powerhouse machine, it's good enough to be VERY useful in a lot of areas. It's strong, easy to use, and well thought out for use by those who travel a lot.

If price or size have stopped you buying a laptop before, buy this one without hesitation. Its the first computer I have been excited about since I bought my Atari ST many years ago!

* I will be looking to change a few things in the near future:
* I want to fix the software niggles I mentioned.
* I want to install a nice game emulator, (maybe I can get a megadrive emulator working!)
* I want more levels for frozen bobble!
* I want to buy it a nice case, the Brando leather one looks like it will protect well without bulking things up.

Essential extras you are likely to need from the word go:
* A USB mouse.
* Some SD cards or USB memory sticks, to store files and media, if you don't have them already. These will also let you try booting from other operating systems.

I really don't know if I agree with those who are waiting for a more powerful version... There is a very real danger that an eee with a big screen and more storage will be expensive enough to compete with a conventional laptop, and a significantly bigger screen would also make the whole PC larger, losing the key advantage of ultra compact. But with a bit of clever design there is room in the same size lid for a somewhat bigger screen, and that would be cool if the price doesn't go up too much.

Overall I'm absolutely delighted I got this machine, and I expect it to get a LOT of use in the near future!

Nick