Review: Asus EEE PC 701 4G

It’s been a while since I did a review on my blog, the last one being the iPod Touch 8Gb, and seeing how I’ve just a new toy I thought now would be the perfect time to do the second one. Click below to carry on readying…

Asus EEE PC-701 4G

(click image to enlarge)

I recently acquired an Asus EEE PC-701 4G, from a very very kind person (you know who you are). I’m not sure whether it’s classified as a sub-notebook or a handheld computer, or what. I know it’s not a UMPC as those have very specific specifications, into which the EEE PC does not fit, either way it’s bloody small. Standing for ‘Easy to Learn, Easy to Work, Easy to Play’ the EEE PC is designed for those who aren’t perhaps as tech savvy as some people, the marketing is aimed towards education, and older people and priced to match with models from £189 to £239.


“omfgz robotchicken ftw!!!111”

I have the 4G model, the range comprises of the 2G, 2G Surf, 4G, 4G Surf and 8G models. The number denotes the size of the SSD (solid state drive) storage, and the Surf models lack a webcam and come with a lower capacity battery. It is initially available in ‘Galaxy Black’ and ‘Pearl White’ with ‘Powder Blue’, ‘Lush Green’ and ‘Luscious Pink’ to follow soon.

Specifications
CPU: 900MHz Intel Celeron
RAM: 512Mb (expandable to 2Gb)
Storage: 4Gb SSD (Solid State Drive)
Screen: 7″ LED backlit TFT (800×480)
Wireless: 802.11b/g
Ports: 3x USB 2.0, VGA out
Other: SD/SDHC card reader, VGA webcam

First impressions
On taking it out of the box the first thing that hits you is how light it is. At 890g it’s less than 30% the weight of my MacBook, and the MacBook isn’t a heavy laptop. Popping it on top of my MacBook (as you can see in the photos below) it’s also got a much reduced footprint, whilst being pretty much the same thickness. The finish ‘Pearl White’ isn’t quite as glossy as the MacBook, it’s more off white with a silkier sheen to it. The battery simply snaps into the back of the unit, and the mains charger is more like something you’d get with a mobile phone than a laptop – very compact for travelling. I popped it on for it’s initial charge which took about 3 (very painful) hours whilst I went through everything else in the very small box. You get a small neoprene slip case which is quite handy if you plan to carry it in your backpack, a Quick Start Guide, a thicker User Manual and a Restore CD containing extra drivers (we’ll get to those later).

Asus EEE PC-701 4G
Comparison with MacBook
(click image to englarge)
Asus EEE PC-701 4G
Comparison of width with MacBook
(click image to enlarge)

Using the EEE PC
Once the charging light had gone out, I unplugged it, brought it over to the sofa, opened it up and turned it on. It was one of the quickest boot times I’ve ever seen, 13 seconds from pressing the power button to being ready to use. This is partially due to the rapid read/write speeds afforded by the SSD, but largely the custom built Linux distribution installed on the EEE PC. Yes, I said Linux. The EEE PC runs a custom built variant of Xandros, which itself is a variant of Debian. Over the standard Xandros KDE desktop they’ve implemented an application launcher called ‘Easy Mode’. It contains nice big icons and a simple tabbed layout, giving you access to pretty much anything the average user would need such as FireFox, Thunderbird, Pidigin (IM), Media Player, Internet Radio, Google webapps, Open Office and a handful of games. If you’re so inclined you can have a fiddle around in the console (alt+shift+t) to enable the full desktop, and the familiar task bar, desktop and start menu. Obviously with it’s diminutive form factor the keyboard and trackpad have been made smaller, however unlike the Toshiba Libretto of days past this keyboard is actually usable, sure it takes a bit of getting used to, but I can touch type comfortably on it after a little practise. It was able to handle pretty much anything I threw at it including YouTube, networking, and film trailers. Finally, should you manage to mess something up somehow on the EEE PC, simply reboot and hold down F9 and it’ll restore the main drive back to ‘out of the box’ condition in seconds. Out of the box you’re left with 1.3Gb of space on the SSD.

Easy Mode on the EEE PC

Easy Mode on the EEE PC

 

Hacking the EEE PC
It’s only been available for a month or two, but the EEE already has a large fan-base, and a healthy portion of those (including myself) have been exploring alternative uses and ways of running the EEE PC. EEEuser.com is the largest online fan base, covering all manner of hacks from turning it into a car computer, to making it touch screen or running Windows 3.11 on it if you so wish. My chosen hack in comparison is rather vanilla, but was still adventurous. I initially had a nightmare making a bootable USB drive, but then after a bit of googling it turned out the tools recommended on the eeeguides.com tutorial which I used don’t play friendly with Vista or Mac OS X, so I ended up creating a XP install on my MacBook using BootCamp just to make the USB stick! Anyway, so once that was done I followed the guide to the letter, and ended up with my nlite’d version of Windows XP on my EEE PC. Thing is I hadn’t installed anything and I already only had 1.2Gb of space left! So I followed this guide to Slimming Down Windows XP and managed to cut about 650mb of crap out of my install. Then once I reduced the page file to 250mb I had a whole 2.5Gb to play with. After installing cut down versions of Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe Photoshop and a few other choice tools I’m left with a much more manageable system and 1.9Gb free! See some of the screen shots below, click the images to enlarge.

Asus EEE PC-701 4G running Windows XP Asus EEE PC-701 4G running Windows XP Asus EEE PC-701 4G running Windows XP


Conclusion

Insanely small, incredibly well built, speedy, fun to use and cheap. Asus aims this product squarely at the general public and education in specific, and it certainly fits that market well, but I feel the Asus has more potential than that, and so do many other consumers, so much so that it’s near impossible to get hold of one in the UK at the moment. With it’s lack of moving parts, small size and solid build quality the EEE PC is perfect to throw in your backpack to take camping, or on a business trip, or anywhere else you fancy going for that matter. With a 24 month warrantee, features you wouldn’t expect for a laptop at this size or price point, and an undeniable air of cool the Asus EEE PC-701 is a hit with me.

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~ by youbrokemytaco on February 17, 2008.

8 Responses to “Review: Asus EEE PC 701 4G”

  1. i have one – and i love it. Installed Windoze on it, but might go back to the Linux OS, which was a breeze to use, especially the integrated google apps.
    Getting used to the trackpad was a bit of a bind, but in the end i went out and bought another mouse. Got mine back in November when they came out, so i think mine is a 2G one – it certainly doesn’t have that sticker

  2. You and I are scarily similar, you know that right? :-p

  3. Thanks for the review! I am actually looking into buying a 8g model pretty soon for my birthday! Pretty excitied!

  4. Nice review. I got the 4g version back in November. Your photos we’re very classy. The wine glass was a nice touch.

  5. Hi, I am a novice user. I know nothing about computer. Linux, what is this?

    I am a stock trader, can I use EEE PC for this purpose?

    Is there any software like Metastock, Amibroker or anything else running on this EEE PC?

    What about software which can manage my portfolio? Is there such software running on EEE PC as well?

    By the way, how much time the battery can hold?

    Please share. Thanks

  6. hi can anyone help me on how can i fit my entire desktop screen on the screen of my eeepc i tried diff resolution but stil doesnt fit. i need to drag my mouse up or down to see the upper and lower portion of my screen.

  7. There is a hack to change the screen resolution up to 1280×976 at http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=14588

    I plan to give it a try as soon as my Eee 4G arrives any day now.

  8. I am new with the 4G eee pc. Have a problem loading photots from usb drive. What are the steps new to linux OS.

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