ASUS Eee PC S101
The sexy new netbook from ASUS.
- Design, build quality, hybrid storage including SSD, decent battery life
- Price, lack of Gigabit Ethernet port, right shift key too small
ASUS' latest Eee PC is a sleek and stylish unit that packs enough punch for basic tasks. The solid-state storage, premium finish and reasonable battery life are all excellent features, but the price is a little steep for a netbook.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Netbooks are all the rage at the moment. The company that kicked off the sub-$1000 craze — ASUS — has introduced its latest and greatest: the Eee PC S101. It is a sleek, slender unit aimed at fashionistas, and it boasts enough power to get the basics done. Unfortunately it’s a tad pricy, almost breaking the $1000 mark.
ASUS claims the S101 is modelled on a "glossy fashion magazine". It is a superb looking netbook, flaunting a premium finish and glossy hinges. Further enhancing the fashion theme is the colour-set — the S101 is available in Brown, Champagne or Graphite models. Despite weighing just one kilo, the Eee PC's build quality is impressive. The screen exhibits minimal flex when twisted, the case feels solid and sturdy and the finish of the cover and the keyboard surround is top notch.
Also impressive is the keyboard, though there is one glaring fault — the right shift key is tiny and almost impossible to press if you touch type. Thankfully, the left shift key is a normal size. The rest of the keyboard is well designed and the keys provide excellent tactility. The slight glitter finish on the keys will probably divide opinion. We weren't too fond of the touch pad: its surface feels a little sticky and our fingers didn't glide across it as smoothly as we'd have liked.
Like the Eee PC 1000H, the S101 runs Windows XP rather than the Linux operating system used in earlier Eee PC models. It is powered by an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor and has a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD) and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. Because the S101 only has a 16GB drive, ASUS makes use of hybrid storage. The unit combines a 16GB SSD drive, a 4-in-1 flash card reader that supports MMC, SD, Memory Stick and MS-PRO, and 30GB of what ASUS calls Eee Storage. This encrypted Internet storage facility provides a free online space to store and share files.
In our iTunes test it took the S101 7min 18sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. This is not a great result when compared to more expensive, regular notebooks, but media encoding is not what this Eee PC has been designed for. The result is quite good for a netbook with these specifications.
The Eee PC S101 has a 10.2in screen with a native resolution of 1024x600. The display is LED backlit and performs well, though both horizontal and vertical viewing angles could be improved. Other features include Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi, as well as a VGA webcam above the display.
The S101 includes a D-Sub port, three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks and the afore-mentioned 4-in-1 card reader. There is also a Kensington lock slot. The lack of a Gigabit Ethernet port wouldn't be a terrible oversight on lower priced netbooks, but when you consider the S101 commands a price of almost $1000 it’s a disappointing omission.
Battery life is fairly impressive, like with most of ASUS' netbooks. In our battery test, where we loop a video file with the screen brightness at its highest setting, the S101's 4900mAh, 4-cell battery lasted just over three hours. The 6600mAh, 6-cell battery of the Eee PC 1000H managed to last over four hours — but of course, that notebook isn't as sexy as this unit.
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