Hands-On With ASUS Premium Eee PC S101

It seems like not a day goes by that we don’t report on a new Eee PC model, but the Eee PC S101, which we had the opportunity to play around with for an hour this morning, is a like no Eee PC we have seen before. If the former Eee PCs are of the Gap or Old Navy variety, the Eee PC S101 is the Prada. Priced at $699, the S101 really does have that ultra-sleek exterior that has been touted in the company’s marketing materials and Web site. We had to see it to believe it but the S101 is by far the slimmest and most stylish netbook we have seen. Check out or first impressions and our first hands-on video and photo gallery below. Slim and Stylish Is In As you can see in the video ASUS has no shame in saying “Slim is In” with its S101 branded T-Shirts. We won’t comment on the appropriateness of this comment, but will say we have no problem with slim laptops and the S101 is definitely one of those. Measuring 10.3 x 7 x .7-inches and weighing 2.3-pounds, it felt extremely light in our hands and just about the same weight as the original Eee PC 701. Available in a copper brown and black graphite (also in champagne in other countries), the glossy lid looks chic and planted on the hinge is a Swarovski crystal. The style leads under the lid to a brushed metal palm rest and touchpad. The keyboard  remains black, but is offset by metal accents. If you are into how your laptop looks, the S101 screams “I am in to style.” Keyboard, Touchpad All the style in the world couldn’t keep us from focusing on the keyboard and touch pad of the small notebook. The keyboard on the S101 looks exactly like that on the Eee PC 1000H and 1000; the keys are large enough to not mistype. In fact we thought the keyboard looked more solid than that of the 1000, but that could have just been the stronger manufacturing build surrounding the system.

The touchpad is a bit different than we have seen on past Eee PCs. The pad is wider and there isn’t too much friction, but ASUS went back to the single mouse bar which lacks a divot for separating right and left  buttons. This isn’t a deal breaker, however, as the bar is easier to press and isn’t as stiff as the one on the Eee PC 901 or 1000H. 10-Inch LED Display The Eee PC S101 has a higher quality 10-inch LED backlit 1024 x 600 resolution screen. The screen is glossy and when cranked up to full brightness looked vivid. The LED lights should also afford the system some battery savings. Performance Though the S101 got all dressed up on the outside, its inside still sports the usual netbook components. A 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB SSD give the S101 its internal thrust. Running Windows XP (the Xandros Linux version won’t be available in the U.S.) the S101 seemed to handle normal netbook such as launching applications swiftly and surfing the Net. The SSD booted the system in a decent 50 seconds. Early Verdict The Eee PC S101 is the best looking Eee PC to date and if you like snazzy laptops you will like ASUS fashionable netbook. But $699 is pricey for a system that won’t deliver the full performance of a notebook. ASUS also has put out the N10 which also runs an Intel Atom processor for $599-$699. The N10 buys you discrete graphics and more of the typical notebook ports, however. Either way, we are impressed with the look and feel of the Eee PC S101 and plan to have a full review soon. [flv:/flvs/EeePCS101.flv 480 360]

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  1. Baz Says:

    Sorry, but ASUS has lost it, insofar as their ‘Eee’ range is concerned – and this only helps confirm that.

    A year ago this month, ASUS released its original Eee 701 4G. In doing so (and even without it being the $200 device they had promised), they created a product that hit a ‘sweet spot’ – creating a small, fairly functional subnotebook at an unheard-of price – and in the process, created a market where none had existed before.

    People picked it up in droves – some the original market that ASUS had intended for it (“My first computer”) – but many were Linux fans, professionals and students who got past the basic desktop and discovered the true capabilities of the Eee.
    In doing so, certain ‘issues’ were discovered, but rather than fix those – ASUS, so overwhelmed by its success, decided to spin out more and more models of the device (2G Surf, 4G Surf, 8G, 900, 901 , 1000, etc – with SSD or HDD, Linux or XP), all the while cranking up the price as they went.

    Other manufacturers have, over the course of the year, come onboard with their own netbooks – none perhaps more competitively than Acer, with their models mostly in the sub-$400 range – but ASUS is now presenting a $700 Eee? They are rapidly in danger of losing the very market (and market share) that they created.

  2. Matt Says:

    I disagree. They realize there are people the 701 and 901 don’t appeal to. The only way to grab more people is to offer more options. It took full fledged laptop manufacturers years to realize people wanted lots of choices. Asus just sped up that process. A couple of years ago I wanted a very mobile laptop without breaking my wallet. There were no netbooks, so I settled with a Dell XPS m1210. Sure, it’s suited me ok over the years, but I really want something smaller but not too small. This is merely my mobile computer; I have a desktop at home. Netbook sales aren’t slowing down at all. Eventually they will make something that I will buy. They came close with the n10 and the s101. Put the guts of the n10 in the case of the s101 and they have my money.

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