Asus Eee review update

Bob asked why I am thinking of moving on from my Eee 701.

I have been using it as my only t’interweb machine for the last 6 months. There are a couple of very specific things I need Windows and IE for, and that amounts to less than once a month, those are the only times I don’t use my Eee for Web business. As my Windows box failed last time I tried to do an Office live meeting, or net meeting or whatever its called this week, even thats not a massive use.

I find that quite incredible – basically if I did anything for a living other than Microsoft/Windows/Excel/Visual Studio dev I would have no need for Windows, or any other MS product probably. Its one of the reasons I keep trying to prod MS to provide users with a compelling story. This situation would have been unheard of a few years ago.

The spec is totally standard 512 Mb RAM, 4GB SSD and the standard Linux distro. I use a 19″ monitor and an ergo keyboard (MS) and mouse. And in that set up the only issue is lack of horse power for stuff like all the new flash BBC content I have had a few crashes with content from Failblog too. Often it runs at 10 or less or zero Mb of RAM free and Open Office can take an age to open. Its needs more RAM and a faster proc too I reckon.

The screen at 7″ is just too small for extended use, especially spreadsheeting. I’ve done doc reviewing and it works well, but for grid stuff or IDE stuff its too small. But it will drive an external display up to 1600 x 1200. Presenting doesn’t work well when the machine screen and the projected one are at 2 different resolutions, ok for ppt yawnathons, but for interactive stuff it makes your head explode. The new breed are 8.9″ which I think will make all the difference. This is the key factor on changing it, if it had a 9″ screen I would just add RAM. Its great to carry around because its small, light, tough and replaceable.

The other issue is Linux distro, I’m still a noob having no real need to delve into the OS to get everything done I needed to on my Eee. But as I understand it if I were running a more common distie then there is a wider choice of apps ready compiled to drop in. eg I don’t think GIMP2 is available for the Eee Linux, or the latest OOo. So I’m thinking Ubuntu or SLED. In fairness I do have other machines that dual boot into those. But for 200 quid I’d rather keep those as they are and get an Acer Aspire one.

I think these netbooks are going to be the net appliances that Larry Ellison has been dreaming of for years. And MS don’t really seem to have anything for them. You can use their deprecated OS that is no longer for sale at retail (win XP), Vista the ‘operating system’ needs too many resources to operate these systems. As of Jan 14 2009 the only fully supported MS productivity suite will require at least 25% of the available vertical pixels for its ‘user experience’ (that would be cramped, wasteful, struggling to find commands, and can’t find the work because the effluent UI is in the way). Hints are this numpty UI will infect Visual Studio v.next, making that unusable, in general, and on smaller screens in particular.

What do you think?

Anyone got a Windows sub notebook? Anyone see value here for Office devs?

cheers

Simon

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9 Responses to “Asus Eee review update”

  1. Bob Phillips Says:

    So how do you find out which distro is a good distro? Amazon have an ACer Aspire netbook with an 8.9″ screen, but it has Linpus Linux. Is that any good?

  2. Harlan Grove Says:

    Linpus is a Fedora (Red Hat) derivative, so presumably RPM-based package management. If the specific Linpus version is using fairly recent kernel and X vresions, it should be OK. Simplest way to check is to download a live CD image, burn it, then boot it and try it out.

    That’s one of the key values of Linux – the ability to try out actual distributions for free on any computer capable of loading it. What a concept!

  3. Simon Says:

    Bob thats the one I’m thinking of getting. Go and have a look at Pc World they are well neat (and basically the same price to take straight home)

    The Eee is Debian based I think, but there seems some debate on where to get apps to download. I saw Xandros recommended as a source, then warnings about hosing your system with incompatible versions. Its just a bit too hard frankly,

    The issue seems to be Ubuntu is less than ideal for the flash based drives.

    In reality any of these disties will get more and more apps as people start using them by buying the netbooks, and the Acer is V well regarded at the mo.

  4. Simon Says:

    Bob, on my Eee opening OOo takes 20-30 seconds, on the Acer at PC World it took under 5. That level of improvement in overall sluggishness would be V welcome.

    I have re-emailed a couple of late paying clients with a view to a shopping trip to PCW

  5. Bob Phillips Says:

    My local PCWorld doesn’t have it, nor any within a 20 mile radius.

    Why is the Ab £229, whereas the Aw is £299. £70 for white, seems exorbitant.

  6. Simon Says:

    You’ve got to be careful of the numbers, and the description. I don’t think there is a price diff between colours for the same models. But the model numbers are pretty unclear
    I’m thinking of a Linux one with 1Gb RAM and a 8 GB SSD, but that doesn’t seem to have a fixed unique number

  7. Ross Says:

    The price differance is often about the HDD v’s flash (8 vb 120) and the 512 ram vs 1gb.
    Tescos also stock the Acers, i was in there today*

    * Your tesco might not be as cool and as hip as mine!

  8. Simon Says:

    Mine doesn’t even hvae calculators never mind the next big thing in computing. They do have a massive array of wellies though, it being rural and all that.

  9. Serio IT Service Desk & Helpdesk Blog » Asus EEE 901 PC Mini Review Says:

    […] alternative take on the ASUS eee is here (the earlier […]

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