ASUS Eee PC 901 Mini-Review
After unboxing the Eee PC 901, I finally sat down with it and put it through the paces. Granted the Windows XP OS is in Chinese, but I was still able to get a good feel for the performance of the Intel Atom powered netbook. Check out the video hands-on and read through my mini-review to find out what I think of the system and if I think it can rival the MSI Wind. Updated: Read our full review of the Eee PC 901. Impressive Hardware Redesign I never had any complaints about the original design of the ASUS Eee PC, but I gladly welcome the redesign. The matte coating on the lid has been replaced with one that has a glossy shine to it. It actually doesn’t seem to be getting too smeared in finger prints, but it has already gotten a small scratch. I am pretty pissed about that since I have been keeping it in the included felt case at most times. (The case isn’t that swim suit lycra anymore). I am impressed with the new circular, silver hinge. The system has also been rebranded; you won’t find any ASUS logos just the Eee script logo on the right hand corner of the lid and under the screen. Same Cramped Keyboard, Improved Trackpad Under the lid lives the same size keyboard as found on the Eee PC 900. It is still a bit cramped for my tastes and I much prefer that of the HP Mini-Note or the MSI Wind. The trackpad is a whole different story. It has been expanded and is now a few centimeters wider than the Eee PC 900. It also feels much smoother than before and has a grainy coating. As with the 900, the pad is responsive to multi-touch finger swipes. I can zoom in on pictures by pinching my fingers, but cannot move back to a previous Web site by swiping my finger. Perhaps taking a tip from me (and other reviewers), ASUS has added two dedicated right and left click buttons; no more single bar with a divot! It doesn’t hurt my right thumb anymore to use the left click button for continuous scrolling or what not. Bluetooth Included The Eee PC 901 is the first of the Eee family to include Bluetooth. I didn’t have a Bluetooth mouse handy, but I did have the Lenovo X300 with internal Bluetooth. I was quickly able to transfer a few pictures and a word document from the X300 to the Eee PC 901 and visa versa. Dolby Sound I have always been impressed with the speakers on past Eee PCs; the sound is always loud and clear. ASUS decided to up the ante and include Dolby Sound Room speakers on the small system. I loaded on a bunch of my MP3s. Aerosmith’s “Dream On” sounded extremely full and with volume pumped all the way up I could hear it from another room (over 25 feet away). I must say the improved speakers are a sweet addition. Atomic Performance?! Of course, the most important addition to the 901 is the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor. We haven’t run any benchmarks yet, but so far I have not observed an actual every day performance difference between the 900 (which includes a 900Mhz Celeron M) and the 901. Applications still launch very quickly and it handles multi-tasking flawlessly. Running Windows Media Player, Firefox, Skype, and Microsoft Works simultaneously had no hiccups. As previously mentioned, you can also put the system into a high performance, overclocking mode. ASUS’ Super Hybrid Engine overclocks the processor to 1.8 GHz. In battery saving mode, the processor down clocks to 1.4 GHz. Battery Life In terms of battery performance (with its included 6-cell battery) this is the best Eee PC to date. Running with Wi-Fi off I have gotten about 4.5-5 hours. Now that is not the 7.5 promised by ASUS, but it is still pretty damn good. I haven’t been in a Wi-Fi connected environment for long enough to test the endurance in that setting. OS Extras The 901 comes in a Xandros Linux flavor or with Windows XP. Both sport some new software additions from ASUS. The YoStore allots each Eee PC customer with 20GB of online storage space. A desktop icon on the XP version allowed me to login with my provided account and password. Early Verdict There is no doubt in my mind that Intel Atom and mini-notebooks are a match made in heaven. Longer battery life and reliable performance are certainly the outcome of the new 45-nanometer chip. So is the new Eee PC better than its latest rival, the MSI Wind? I can’t say until ASUS announces a U.S. price. The MSI Wind sports a 10-inch screen with a hard drive for $499. If ASUS can keep the price under $550 I think the system goes head to head with it, though the Wind has a larger screen and a larger keyboard. On the other hand, the 10-inch, hard drive option Eee PC 1000 is headed our way soon. Overall, the 901 packs more punch and computing power than the 900. Which begs the question, why was there ever a 900 model in the first place?