I have to say I’m impressed. The Eee netbook, out of the box, is a little bloody stunner.
At $399 all up, it got off to a pretty good start with me from the moment I paid for it. They’re normally $499 but I chanced on a special at Harvey Norman, who do great specials (well at least one) but have an utterly useless web site. Take it down or do it up guys, purleez!
Back to the Eee. ScrEeech (sorry) into the driveway, sprint inside. Rip it out of the box, plug it in and turn it on, and that’s it. No, wait – I had to assign myself a user name and password and timezone, and I had to tell it my network password when it asked me. Too easy. It’s almost disappointing if you like to play round configuring stuff.
It’s the size of an A4 page folded in half and if I chuck it in my backpack in the mornings with my other A4 pages folded in half, it’ll weigh me down by 0.9kg plus the power pack.
Battery life is meant to be around 5 hours – sounds great – but I haven’t found out for myself yet. The flash drive is only 8GB so I won’t be storing my photos on it but it’s big enough to hold the internet as far as I can tell. And it draws 12 watts so my running costs are are a whopping 0.3c per hour.
It’s not entirely without drawbacks. The screen is limited to 800 pixels wide (on the Linux model at least, but maybe not), so you run into a bit of horizontal scrolling on sites hard-coded for bigger screens. But that’s precisely the reason for my occasional but impassioned rants about building fluid web sites. I’ll count that as a cross against web designers, not against the Eee. Sites like this work beautifully.
And the keyboard is pretty cramped so it’s fairly easy to make typos [note-to-self: Use spellchecker]. That’s the only real downside of the Eee in my eyes. I can live with it, I’m not a high-speed typist anyway. I’m typing this post on it and we seem to be getting along OK (in a text file, though – the WordPress editor crumbles at 800 pixels wide. Irony strikes unexpectedly…)
The Linux version’s default Xandros desktop is a class act. It’s so intuitive that I suspect my wife and friends who are maybe more in the mainstream of computer users than I am would use it quite happily. It’s about the nicest Linux desktop I’ve seen so far, for ease of use anyway.
It feels a little too locked down for me though and my other Linux gear is Ubuntu, so Xandros is probably going overboard in favour of Eeebuntu.
But for the sake of four hundred bucks, I’m not arguing. I’ve got myself a cheap, lightweight, very portable and very usable web platform and, increasingly, that’s all I need. And Asus have got a very happy customer. Well done, Asus.