I Gave Up My Notebook For An Eee PC: Day One

hunchback.jpgThe Eee PC 4G Surf arrived in office to much fanfare. My colleagues gathered around my cubicle and took turns passing around the two-pounder. The gentlemen labeled it as “cool,” while the women-folk universally agreed that it was “cute”. Not too many products gain such positive reactions right off the bat. But since this diary is all about me, I quickly pried the Eee PC from their grubby little paws and went about chronicling my experiences. My initial impression? This is one travel-friendly notebook. It’s a little larger than a paperback, and about as heavy-it just feels perfect in hand. When I popped the top on this puppy and powered on the unit, I was quite impressed with the startup time; it took about 15 seconds for the system to boot courtesy of the lightweight Xandros Linux operating system and a small, but peppy, 4GB solid-state drive. Arriving at the home screen is quite a different experience than with Mac OS X, Windows, or even other versions of Mac OS X. Instead of arriving at the traditional spacious desktop environment with small icons or a dock for launching applications, the Eee PC opts for a tabbed interface (Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, Favorites) with relatively huge icons.It makes navigating and launching programs a cinch, but has a strong “in your face feel” that made me want to just clear the icons and work within a traditional desktop.I guess that was a wise way to go, as Asus originally positioned the Ee PC as the tool for children and grandparents, not 30-something year old tech writers with a fetish for all things electronic. As expected, the keyboard is small-very small. Large-bodied, lion-pawed typists like myself will inevitably come to resemble Quasimodo as they hunch over the machine to peck away at the keys, and the tiny mouse button and touch pad didn’t help matters. The miniscule Tab and Delete keys nearly drove me to the brink of insanity as I crafted this very post in OpenOffice (trying to write directly into the CMS was a visual nightmare). While on the topic of software, the Eee PC comes nicely packed with some of the best free tools on the web: the Firefox browser, GIMP photo editor, and fast links to all of the popular web-based e-mail services (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc). I was able to swiftly connect to our office Wi-Fi signal to check mail, read the latest tech-related headlines, and “test out” the Eee PCs compatibility with YouTube and other Flash-based websites. Eee PC 4G Surf? $349. Firefox browser? Free. Slacking off on company time? Priceless. Although the Eee PC aced the Flash test, the web-surfing experience was not perfection. Many sites optimized for higher resolutions required horizontal scrolling to take in everything-even on our very own www.laptopmag.com. Quite the annoyance. But as there was some copy due to the editors, I decided to once again assume the hunchback position and get to work as keeping my job was a tad more important than reading The Gothamist on Asus’ small wonder. Tomorrow I take the Eee PC to the streets, and also attempt to turn it into a multimedia hub.

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  1. Brad Linder Says:

    I’ve had mine for about three months now, and I have to say the small keyboard grows on you. I can type just about as fast on the Eee PC as I can on a full desktop. In some ways, the small keyboard is actually helpful, because your hands and fingers don’t have to reach as far to hit the keys.

    The small screen on the other hand, gets old real fast. As you mentioned, typing into most Blog/website CMSes is quite difficult, because they’re just not designed for an 800 x 480 pixel screen. Hitting the F11 key to view Firefox in fullscreen mode helps, but only a little. Asus has announced plans to release an Eee PC with an 8.9 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel screen. I can hardly wait.

  2. bob the builder Says:

    MR Wilson you are nuts. I don’t see how Asus really can market this for gramps, its to small? If it is for kids how is it with games?

  3. Widdy Says:

    I am currently typing with the eee one handed lying on my back with a 1600 wide virtual desktop – plenty wide enough to centre this website on the screen….

    developers really should learn to stop making non reflowing sites.

  4. Richard Says:

    The Eee PC is indeed a marvelous Laptop. There are a lot of people who do some cool mods to the Eee PC.

    http://eeepc.itrunsonlinux.com/the-news/1-latest-news/46-modding-the-eeepc

  5. Derek Says:

    bob the builder sez:

    “MR Wilson you are nuts. I don’t see how Asus really can market this for gramps, its to small?”

    And since I have a 13 year old grand daughter, I qualify as “gramps”, and this little computer is a GEM!

    I’ve already enabled the advanced desktop/s, but I’m currently trying out 3 other small Eee PC LINUX distro’s booting off of CF cards.

    All I can say is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY COOL, this box ROCKS!

    You, bob the builder, are the one who should be checking their sanity.

  6. Cas Says:

    bob the builder Says:
    If it is for kids how is it with games?

    Great, in fact it’s fantastic and defiantly worth enjoying while you travel :)

    Examples:
    http://scalegamer.com/2008/01/23/quake-3/
    http://scalegamer.com/2008/02/04/eeepc-overclocking-with-eeectl/
    http://scalegamer.com/2008/02/05/grand-theft-auto-3/

  7. Derek Says:

    Thanks for this series of articles. My Eee should be here tomorrow, courtesy of UPS! I can’t wait to be a part of the Eee community!

  8. Rick Says:

    Welcome to the ground breaking world of EeePC. Your write up was a great first look at, what I think, an industry shifting product. I bought one about three weeks after they were released wit the thought I could eBay it if I didn’t like it. But, no one can pry this little conversation starter and productivity enhancer from my oversized fingers! In fact, we covered all of CES this year with only EeePC’s!

  9. Richard Says:

    Asus showed at the CeBIT tradeshow in Germany a new version of its EEE PC laptop with a wider screen; 9 inch(!)

    http://eeepc.itrunsonlinux.com/component/content/article/51-eee-pc-900-with-9-inch-screen-announced

    Also new specs are mentioned, like bigger memory & flashdisk.

  10. trojan Says:

    THE WHOLE WORLD CANT WAIT FOR THE 8 OR 9 inc SCREEN OF D EEEEEEEEEEE PC… it shud b coming nxt month

  11. Vicki Says:

    I own one and I love it. I’m planning on using it in college to take notes so I don’t have to take out my gigantic Toshiba out of my dorm room. BTW, the picture of the author of this article (who is a big guy) hunched over this tiny tiny computer is hilarious :)

  12. anna Says:

    Thank you for the great article! I own the 7inch EeePC model, waiting for an article on how you can get the webcam to work through Skype if it’s already built-in to the system (without having to upgrade) that part of the laptop if it’s not necessary.

  13. cc Says:

    Customer service is not that great. I let a friend use my EEE PC and he drop it. Well… The screen broke… Now I’m trying to find someone to do the repair. It’s been very hard. C/S for Asus said go to the web site and find the price for the screen.. Ok I went to the site. Guess what? They don’t sell them on Asus web site. Ok I call back and got 3 other stories. Then I was told send it in (I pay for shipping to & from) then the service department will look at it. Then they will email me the cost to repair the screen. If I don’t want it replaced by ASUS I would have to pay for the EEEEEE PC to get shipped back to me. I could not talk with the repair shop, supervisor or manager. It was a total waste of time. Total time 1 1/2 hours for nothing. So the search is on for a repair shop…

  14. cc Says:

    Sears have new Asus Eee 900 for $229. To have it repaired here in town is $150. Go figure…

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