Eee PC – 1st Impressions Review

This morning my brand new 4gb Eee 701 PC was delivered :) * (for details of my order please read my previous post)

I’ve only been playing around with it for a few hours and this post represents my initial impressions of the laptop so far ie. I haven’t used it extensively as yet so please bear this in mind when reading this review.

I have taken pictures of the unboxing, the initial configuration screens and the default xandros operating screens so that potential eee pc owners can have a preview of what they can expect. If you click on any of these pics in this article you can see the full sized image (1,000 pixels).

Unboxing the Eee PC

It will come as no surprise to most that the box for a laptop with a 7″ screen is equally as small.

The box contains :

  • The Eee PC
  • The Eee battery
  • A plug which has a UK 3 prong and a USA 2 prong connection (very handy!)
  • A quick user guide
  • A user manual
  • A warranty for your Eee

Even though I knew the Eee would be small, I was surprised at how small and compact this device is. It really is a cool notebook and although I finally decided on getting a black Eee, I’m happy with the white one I ordered. The plastic casing does feel a bit cheaper than the casing on some more premium notebooks but that’s expected from something which only cost £249.99. Don’t get me wrong though, whilst it does feel a little cheaper, it’s still got a good build quality.

Unboxing the Eee : Pictures

Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC
Unboxing the Eee PC

One thing I was impressed about was the power adaptor. The adaptor comes with a UK 3 prong connector however if you remove this it reveals a USA 2 prong plug connection. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m taking my Eee to New York in a few weeks so this is an incredibly handy feature and it makes you wonder why more UK companies don’t offer this with their products.

The UK power adaptor
The USA power adaptor option

Initial Setup Screen

When you power up your Eee for the first time you need to agree to Asus’s terms and conditions and enter your name and set the time etc. Theres only 5 screens and start to finish will probably take you less than a minute!

Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens
Initial Setup Screens

The Xandros Operating System

The Eee comes pre loaded with the Xandros operating system, a linux variant which has been modified to suit the Eee’s needs. The software has a childlike feel to it and looks like it would be more suitable in a PDA or even a childrens computer (which Asus actually market this as too!). This is not neccessarily a bad thing when you think of it as the majority of people mainly use their computers for email, messaging and browsing the web and all of these are on the first screen.

In total there are 6 tabs :

  • Internet
  • Work
  • Learn
  • Play
  • Settings
  • Favourites

The Xandros operating tabs

Xandros Operating System
Xandros Operating System
Xandros Operating System
Xandros Operating System
Xandros Operating System
Xandros Operating System

It is possible to install XP on the Eee however you may want to try out the Advanced Desktop Mode which has more in common with regular desktop environments (The default xandros setup with all the graphical icons and tabs etc is known as easy mode).

So what’s my overall experience with Xandros? Well, so far so good. The Eee had trouble finding my router at first but after deleting the profile and creating it again it works perfectly so any problem was just me setting it up wrong (although I have heard some people having issues with it). It is all in all a basic interface but it works well and does what you need it to do.

Using the Eee

Browsing with the Eee is quite good. The default resolution is 800×480 pixels. Everything is clear however browsing most sites results in horizontal scroll bars but that’s kinda unavoidable with a laptop this size (although the Vye S37 has a 1024 resolution and also has a 7 inch screen).

Here’s an example of browsing on the Eee using it’s default browser Firefox (Mozilla) :

Browsing the internet

The keyboard is obviously small which results in a slower typing speed. Some of the keys (like the return and space bar) are a little too small for my liking. I don’t think I would ever use the Eee to type for a long time so it isn’t going to be a major concern for me and there is always the option of hooking up a usb keyboard or even a portable bluetooth keyboard if travelling.

Typing on the Eee
The Eee PC
The Eee PC
The Eee PC

I think the Eee is going to prove to be great for watching movies on and for messaging. The speakers are louder than I thought they would be and the webcam is very impressive. Perhaps my expectations were low for the Eee but I have to say I am pretty impressed with it so far.

Right out of the box you only have 1.368gb left for storage but the SD card slot allows you to back everything to that (I’ve got an 8gbSDHC). Also, there are 3 usb ports so hooking up an external usb drive will be simple too.

Storage left from 4gb

Upgrading the Ram to 2gb

The 4gb Eee 701 comes with 512 mb of RAM however it is upgradeable to 2gb. The upgrade was ridiculously easy, all I had to two was unscrew 2 screws and insert the 2gb RAM stick (here’s a video explaining how). Asus had put a sticker over one of the screws which usually means your warranty will be voided if it is removed but they confirmed recently this is not the case.

2GB Corsair Ram
Upgrading the RAM
Upgrading the RAM

Although the bios recognises the ram upgrade right away, the default Xandros installation has a limit of 1gb in it’s kernal. This means you need to either change your operating system or update the kernal. Thankfully, Eeeuser has a guide explaining exactly what you need to do. I’ll do this in the next few days when I get some time :)

Overview

I’ve only had the Eee a few hours but my initial impressions of the laptop are very good. It’s not the most powerful notebook you can get but it’s not meant to be your main pc and does everything I bought it for and for 250 quid, how can anyone complain.

I am going to mess around with it a lot over the next week to get to know it better but I feel safe in saying that if you are looking for a budget laptop for travelling or even one for using around the house to browse the net or watch movies, the Eee should definately be on your shopping list.

If you have any questions about the Eee, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

cheers,
Kev

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