Eee PC, 4 Months Later

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You may recall about 4 months ago, I reviewed the Eee PC. As it turned out, the computer was actually a gift from my wife, so unlike many of the other products I review, I got to keep it. I'm going to give you the quick rundown of how those 4 months have been with the little lappy at my side:

Early on, I formatted the hard drive, and installed a full version of Ubuntu. I felt the original operating system was too limiting, and I wanted more power. It worked fine, but unfortunately, it did increase the startup time, and a few things never did work quite right. (Mainly, battery notification and hibernation.) I considered the EeePC a full blown laptop, and I wanted it to behave in just that manner. And, it did. The problem was that I really never used the Eee as a full blown notebook, and rather would only use it to surf the web and do some occasional text editing.

So about 2 months ago, I formatted the hard drive again, and reinstalled the original Xandros-based Linux it shipped with (editor's note: Shawn loves reinstalling distributions). The boot time was amazing, and it turns out the simple design worked very well for the things I used the EeePC for anyway! I think my original problem is that I saw the interface as a stripped down laptop instead of a souped up "mobile device." When I think of my EeePC as a Palm Pilot on steroids, it's actually extremely useful...

Pros and Cons from an Old Hand

Here's a quick list of the pros and cons after owning and using the EeePC for quite a while:

Pros:

  • Extremely portable. It's like carrying a paperback book.
  • Fast boot time, especially with the original OS.
  • Apps, especially games, come pre-configured for small screen.
  • Plugging into a monitor gets full size goodness without a reboot.
  • Everybody thinks you're super cool.

Cons:

  • The keys really are a bit too small.
  • The screen is annoyingly small when browsing some sites.
  • The battery life isn't horrible, but it's not great either.
  • There's no way to determine the battery charge level externally.
  • Updates are awkward at best, and rare to arrive.

So in the end, do I still like the Eee? Yes, for sure. I'll admit that the small keyboard and short battery life has kept it from becoming my full-time laptop, but it's still something that I'll grab if I'm headed to a bookstore or a coffee shop. The thing that surprised me the most, however, is that the EeePC is apparently sized perfectly for my kids! They range from 7-11 years old, and don't seem to have any problems using the keyboard or small screen, except for those few web pages that demand more real estate. Especially the Webkinz site, that one won't even let them scroll side to side. :o)

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Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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I like asus eee pc

Anonymous's picture

I recently bought this item. I love the color, blue, and it is a great little computer. I am in the health care field and I use it to type notes when I am traveling. Its size makes it perfect for typing in the car.

There is one problem though with the touch pad. When you use the keyboard the curser is still active and it jumps around on the document you are trying to type on. This is annoying and time consuming.

I went to my PC tech and he said that most computers have a program that shuts down the cursor while you type with several seconds time delay. But my Asus PC 1000HE did not have that program. The solution he recommended was to delete the touch pad software and install basic touchpad software that shuts the cursor with several seconds delay when you use the keyboard.

Now it is working great without a problem but I did have to pay labor charges to have it taken care of.

Also, it came with and XP support DVD. However, if you want to use it you would have to purchase an external CD ROM drive. Maybe they should have put the info on a flash drive instead.

These issues aside the ASUS is a good little PC for my purposes. They could however improve on the product to make it even better.
you can visit site for more review.
http://www.bestshopbrand.com

dial-up

Divakar's picture

Is it possible to use dial-up / wired broadband with the Eee? I wanted to gift one to my parents but wireless networking is not so commonly available in India.

Eee is an awesome machine

genesiskiith's picture

I have been using an Eee PC 8G for just over 4 months now, and I must say I love it.. my friends' faces when they saw compiz fusion on the little Eee was priceless haha

The laptop is perfect for killing time in boring lectures heh, nothing beats scummvm games and roms. For the OS, the first thing I did was formatted the HDD and installed OpenSuSE 10.3, I installed most of the dev packages and the total size was just over 3.2GB. I have a 16GB SDHC plugged into the Eee, so I could fit movies and animes on to it.

There are just a couple of things to note about the Eee though:
- Like Shawn said, the keyboard is small, not just that, the mouse pad is also really small... alot of the times you accidentally
- Some new video formats, such as H264 are sluggish, this is especially true for high resolution videos. Over clocking does help, but only to a certain extend

distributions

Peter Roopnarine's picture

I've had mine now for about a month, and I absolutely love it! It's perfect, as you said, for hauling to a bookstore of cafe. I'm a scientist who does a lot of field work, and it's also perfect for that; can't beat the replacement price!
As for the desktop, have you tried unlocking the full KDE system that's already installed?! Fairly straightforward, and you get the added functionality of KDE, though the Xandros version seems to be missing a few things.
I agree about the updates; few and far between. Also, you cannot just install vanilla Debian updates, as these can sometimes break a few Xandros Eee PC programs. But you can active the main Xandros repository, and this gives you many more options. I've even installed Gimp, and it runs just fine.
There are a number of other Eee PC-specific distributions out now, including ones from Puppy Linux and Ubuntu. I plan to try the Ubuntu version in a few weeks.
Finally, I suggest that many of us should try the alternative distributions, or find ways to enhance the default desktop, in anticipation of the XP release. I need not go into why it simply will be less than satisfactory, but I for one would like to see the Linux version continue to dominate!

Battery

Douglas Gazineu's picture

Shawn:

The following command will give your battery remaining percentage:

grep remaining /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state | awk '{ print $3}'

Rgds.

Outside

Shawn Powers's picture

I meant while the case is closed, there's no button on the battery to show the charge level.

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

Con: Updates are awkward at best

Bruce Miller's picture

Can you provide some further detail on the comment in your summary of pros and cons that "Updates are awkward at best". Xandros Linux is based on Debian. Debian is easy to maintain. What is awkward in the case of the eee?

Just the implementation

Shawn Powers's picture

Really just 2 things:

1) The front end for apt is... odd in the Eee
2) The repositories seem to have very few updates

I absolutely love Apt though. Debian is awesome. :)

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

EeePC And "Real" Linux

Frihet's picture

Like you, Shawn, I tried several distributions to get a more traditional user interface, better application repositories, and to be free of the Microsoft patent issues that swirl around Xandros.

I ended up with Mandrake One 2008.1 with the Gnome front-end. It works really well on the Eee -- including out-of-the-box native driver support of wireless that is unbeatable.

The Eee certainly is not perfect, but overall, it is awfully good at what it does. Mine is with me all the time.

Asus EeePC 700 with 1024 x 768 screen (Virtual)

Sean Godsell's picture

All ubuntu and most other distro's now, use X. So all you have to do is add one line to you xorg.conf file. Add the line to the Display subsection.

Virtual 1024x768

With that line added you can now scroll around a virtual screen of 1024x768 so now your
webkinz site will work.

Good mobile device

Anonymous's picture

Still waiting to get mine. I travel a lot and am tired of logging my Thinkpad T61p. Use it almost exclusively for surfing WIFI when travelling in Asia. The Asus should be the perfect choice for me. Getting a larger keyboard and or screen would inevitable increase weight. I don't want that.

keyboard

Carlie Fairchild's picture

The HP 2133 Mini-Note PC is suppose to have a slightly larger keyboard (the device weighs more too which is the off set). Will the larger keyboard alone give HP the advantage here? I suspect not -- the Eee PC still has many "coolness" factors to it but I'd be curious to hear what you think since you're actually typing on the Eee often.

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.

It might be enough

Shawn Powers's picture

A larger keyboard might be enough to topple the Eee's kingship. If you were to add a 9" screen (with slightly higher resolution), the Eee might really be in trouble.

Pricepoint is where the Eee is hard to beat though. $299 for the Surf? That's unpossible! :)

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

HP 2133

gaspero1's picture

The HP 2133 comes with a 9" screen, and 1366x768 resolution. It also has an option of a 4GB solid state drive or a 120GB hard drive. Not to mention SUSE Enterprise Desktop Linux 10. At $499-549, yeah it's nearly twice the price of the ASUS EEE, but it's also quite a bit more computer. I like the EEE a lot, but the HP 2133 is actually swaying me away from the MacBook Air I've been drooling over the past few months.

HP 2133 - Great Linux laptop

Ben's picture

I'm typing this on the 1.2GHz/1GB/120GB SLED version that sells for $549. The machine is fantastic. Not only has it displaced my Eee, it's replaced my MacBook as my main machine. With the full HD and 1280x768 display, I can do all of my "real" tasks with it. It's a touch bigger and heavier than the 7" Eee (which I have owned for eight months now) but the design is worth the slight extra bulk.

The 3-cell battery gets a solid 2hrs, ACPI support in Ubuntu 8.04 is fantastic. With a few very minor tweaks I get perfect suspend and resume. I mean perfect. Also, the battery doesn't drain on suspend like the Eee does, so startup time may be longer than the Eee, but I never have to turn it off.

The worst part of the 2133 is SLED. It's a terrible fit for this device. I've never been much of a Suse fan, but even so the 2133 is beyond bad. I thought I'd stick with SLED for a week or two, but gave up and installed Ubuntu within the first two days. Unlike Asus, HP didn't spend _any_ time tailoring SLED to the 2133, and it shows.

I blathered on about it for quite a bit here, if anyone is interested:

Well the battery life of the

Anonymous's picture

Well the battery life of the HP is just nearly half of the eee pc

Eee 900

Jarrod's picture

The next generation (Eee 900) will have an 8.9" screen, with better resolution, and I believe they adjusted the keyboard, I know that the touchpad is larger as well. I think the pricepoint will be around $499.

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