Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ASUS EEE PC Overview Review

A friend of mine recently asked what I thought of the Asus EEE PC so I took the time to write out my basic thoughts. I've included them here because other people might be curious as well.

To be honest, the EEE PC is the wickedest piece of computer I've ever bought. I heard about it from a friend at work who bought the Linux version (without the webcam) and he installed Windows XP on it. Works great. It even does this weird "Smart scroll" think that happens when you can't see the task bar or bottom portion of the screen on such a small display. UPDATE: One of the great things about the EEE PC is its solid state hard drive which has no moving parts (so no head-crashes or damaged plates). No CD-ROM, put it has 2 USB ports for storing data or connecting other devices.

We bought ours in the spring because my wife wanted something that would allow her to work more flexibly at home. We've got wireless to her office upstairs, but the room gets too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. I don't keep track of the model numbers, but Asus EEE PC is white, with a webcam, and pre-installed with Linux. However, the interface is just a collection of icons and tabs. This is perfect for what my wife does with it.

It contains some fun games, has a PhotoManager and should also contain the GIMP but at the moment you can't access the Gimp from the Photo Manager. I haven't bothered trying to fix it yet.

The Work tab contains icons for Web (which will open Firefox to a default page), Mail (which will open another tab, and it contains icons for various web mail hosts {Gmail, Yahoo}... they all open Firefox). As well as a Documents icon (which opens Firefox and takes you to GoogleDocs).

At first I was worried if my wife would be able to use Linux (since I hadn't seen the EEE PC run before) but I knew at least that I could install XP if I had too. But after 1 week she asked "Why do we even need Windows?" :) In reality, using the EEE PC as a user has nothing to do with Linux, as everything is point in click. Even setting up the wireless wasn't difficult, though if we have power failures due to storms (which happens a lot at my place) then it can take time to re-initialize the WiFi connection if our router goes down). However, you wait a few minutes and it comes back.

There are also plenty of sites that talk about hacking it. You can set the machine to boot to a standard Linux desktop (Start button, no tabs, clean desktop) and if it ever screws up you can easily reboot it to factory defaults (which clears the hard drive from what I understand).

You can easily get to a Linux console and edit some config files (in a program that looks like Pico... GNU Nano I think!) and alter the icons and tabs. There is also a CTRL-ALT-DEL feature to kill processes that might hang. Doesn't happen often, but some websites can be stubborn or try to do weird things.

This article contains links to 3 or 4 reviews:

So there you have it. If you have any specific questions just ask.

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