Netbook revolution

Asus EeePC 901I’ve been paying attention to the market for portable internet enabled devices recently as I’ve been wanting a device that allows me to read news feeds, browse the web and manage emails while away from home. Most of the devices I’ve seen so far have been frustrating to use for one reason or another. I have a Windows Mobile handset which is fine for reading short plain-text emails or checking train times but anything else is likely to lead throwing either the handset or myself from the top of a very high bridge! At the start of the year I  bought a Nokia N800 “internet tablet” but soon found that the screen was still not a high enough resolution, and there was a lack of thrid-party software (which was impossibly difficult to install anyway). I fount the N800 just too slow and clumsy when browsing web pages or scrolling through RSS feeds. I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to make do with a “mobile internet” experience, I want the full internet (including ajax, flash etc) but in a portable form-factor.

Six months ago a friend bought an Asus EeePC 701. He soon returned it becuase he found the keyboard too cramped and the 7″ screen too small, but I was sold on the concept. Asus have since saturated the market with a plethora of devices and model numbers which  serve only to confuse the consumer but the latest model, the EeePC 901, is significantly improved from that first model and I think has the potential to be just what I’m looking for. The important features for me are:

  • 9″ screen
  • 1024 pixels wide so almost all webpages will fit without horizontal scrolling.
  • Intel Atom mobile CPU running at 1.6GHz – low powered and cool running.
  • 802.11b/g and n WiFi and bluetooth built-in
  • 1.3megapixel webcam,
  • 20GB solid state disk (SSD) if you go for the Linux option, otherwise 12GB so no moving parts and better battery life than a conventional hard disk.

In fact, it’s claimed that with some clever CPU performance management it’s possible to eek out 8 hours from a single charge.

So, just over a week ago I bought one, and put the N800 on eBay. I’ve been playing with the Eee901 for a while now, I’ve used it on the train, taken it when I went away for the weekend and shown it to several friends and colleagues. So far I’ve been very impressed with the hardware, design and build quality but disappointed with the Xandros Linux operating system. However, I made one big change yesteerday which has completely transformend the Eee901 and resolved almost all of my concerns. More on that in my next EeePC post…

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