ASUS Eee PC 900 (Windows XP version)
The popular ultraportable notebook is now bigger and also available with Windows XP
- 1024x600 resolution, 12GB solid-state hard drive, easy to use, quiet, very easy to carry
- Sometimes-sticky touchpad, no Express Card slot, smaller storage capacity than the Linux version
Physically, it's the same as the Linux version, and it has less storage space, but it does feel a little faster and it's much better suited to playing videos.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
The Eee PC is back! This time around it's bigger, more potent, and also available in a Windows XP version. Called the Eee PC 900, the new model sports an 8.9in screen, 1GB of RAM and a 12GB solid state drive (SSD).
It runs an Intel Celeron M Ultra Low Voltage CPU, which cruises at 900MHz, so it's not going to be ideal for relatively taxing tasks, such as editing music or photos, nor is it going to multitask too well. However, it's perfect for getting online, running typical office applications, and even for listening to music, viewing photos and watching videos.
It's a solidly built ultraportable notebook, and because it uses flash memory-based storage, there aren't any moving parts in it apart from one cooling fan. Its hinge is solid — so you can position its 8.9in screen exactly how you want it, and it will stay there — and the hard plastic shell of the notebook feels like it will withstand accidental knocks and drops without breaking.
For connectivity, there are three USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone ports, a D-Sub port, a 10/100 Ethernet port and an SD memory slot. A 1.3-megapixel webcam is built-in to the top of the screen, and it does a good job of capturing video, even in low-light conditions. The only thing it could use is an Express Card slot, but there isn't any space for it in the chassis.
As a learning aid and a tool for students everywhere, the Eee PC 900 with Windows XP is probably an even better choice than the original (Eee PC 701 4G), and that's mainly because of the larger screen — which has a 1024x600 native resolution — slightly bigger dimensions, and higher storage and memory capacities. Its performance isn't stunning, but it will let you work on its pre-installed office applications and Internet applications without appearing sluggish.
Because it's based on Windows XP, this Eee PC gives you a lot more freedom to run the applications you're already used to. However, because it isn't a fast notebook, you can't just install anything and everything. You'll also have to consider its 12GB of internal storage, which is much smaller than many digital music players on the market, for example.
It doesn't have any moving parts, so it runs very quietly and it minimises the chances of you losing your data if you accidentally drop or knock the notebook.
For workplaces, the Windows XP version is better-suited than the Linux version of the Eee PC 900, mainly from familiarity and compatibility perspectives, but businesses thinking of rolling out the Eee PC for their workers, due to its low cost, might find it a little limiting: it doesn't have an Express Card slot, for example, and multitasking will be slow.
As for its functionality, the Eee PC 900 is basically just like any other Windows XP-based computer. It connected to our wireless network without any problems, using WPA encryption, it ran videos smoothly and it recognised all of our external hard drives and USB keys.
For watching video, the Eee PC 900 is actually very good (just make sure you pre-load all the codecs that you require). With dimensions that are similar to a portable DVD player (22.5cm wide and 17cm deep), it's very easy to hold, and its 8.9in screen has relatively good contrast and brightness. Its viewable angles are also wide and it doesn't suffer from noticeable motion blur. Also, in our worst-case scenario battery test, it lasted 2hr 32min, which is about half an hour longer than the Eee PC 900 (Linux version).
While it's crunching video data, the Eee PC 900 does get a little warm, and the warmth travels up through the keyboard. A fan is present in the chassis, to extract the warm air; this is the only noise the notebook makes while it's running.
As a travel companion, the Eee PC 900 is an ideal size and with a weight of only 1.3kg, including its power supply, you can carry it with you everywhere in your backpack. You can set aside some of its internal 12GB capacity (11.2GB formatted capacity) for a selection of videos and music to entertain you while you travel, and you can use another portion to store the photos from your digital camera.
Despite being bigger than the previous model, the Eee PC 900 remains difficult to type on due to its small keys, but you do get used to it. Its touchpad device can be a little sticky; single taps sometimes got 'stuck' and caused dragging. You'll have to fiddle with the settings in order to minimise this effect. It's not a typical touchpad, however, as it can recognise dual inputs; using two fingers, gestures can be made to zoom in and out of a Web page, as well as scroll.
Overall, this is a convenient ultraportable notebook that's no longer just for students. With Windows XP installed, business users can also consider it as a tool for catching up on work while on the road, and travellers will love its small size, low price, and functionality.
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