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Portables Hardware

First Full Review of New Asus Eee PC 900 266 266

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the several-hundred-more-than-before dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After months of rumors, the new 8.9in screen Eee PC is out in the open and the first review is online. As well as the larger screen you get 1GB RAM, 20GB Storage and a multi-touch touchpad. It costs more than the old Eee PC, but it definitely sounds like it's worth the extra cash." I always thought the appeal of the original was the ridiculously low price, coupled with the ease of hacking. Not sure if the sequel will meet that challenge.
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First Full Review of New Asus Eee PC 900

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  • by lixee (863589) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:41AM (#23089336)
    AFAIK, there are already 7800mAh and 10400mAh batteries on the market.
  • Re:xp? (Score:5, Informative)

    by edremy (36408) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:45AM (#23089406) Journal
    I have XP on my eee since I couldn't get it to talk to my school's 802.1x network. I honestly don't see many problems with it that the Linux version also doesn't have. It's all of 5 seconds slower to boot, it hasn't crashed and the screen size issues appear with any program that assumes a normal screen- there are dialog windows that run off the screen in Linux apps too.

    I do miss the nice tabbed interface, but most of the bundled apps were pretty worthless and those that were actually useful are free downloads anyway.

    The one thing I really want is a 2nd battery pack and external charger- the battery life on an eee is pretty maarginal.

  • Re:the photos (Score:4, Informative)

    by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:47AM (#23089432) Homepage
    I'm 6'5" tall and have big hands. As I type this on my Asus 701 4G I can say I've had no problems with keyboard size. For what I do with the laptop it just works.

    Screen isn't too big of an issue either. For sitting in meetings and taking notes it wins hands down compared to other laptops. I wish I had this when I was taking college courses and lugging around that old Dell Inspiron 8000. This thing would have blown that out of the water back then.
  • Re:the photos (Score:2, Informative)

    by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:52AM (#23089544)

    At 329 pounds, that's about $650.00 bucks. You can get a full-sized laptop with twice the ram, more than 10x the storage, a bigger screen, etc., for under $500.00

    Smaller electronics have traditionally cost more even as they offered fewer features (think what you could get in a desktop for $500 these days). Perhaps people balk in this case because this machine has so many features that they simply don't think it is worth more? Wait. . .
  • Re:xp? (Score:2, Informative)

    by thewaker (1249320) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:54AM (#23089586)
    There are XP drivers available [] for the 2G and 4G models, and given that the hardware has not changed much I am sure they work on the 20G model. As well there is a great user forum dedicated to Xp on the eee PC []
  • Re:xp? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Amouth (879122) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:57AM (#23089632)
    all the XP drivers are included on the DVD you get which is also the restore disk for the base linux install.

    my boss has one of the orginal ones.. and putting xp on it was no issue driver wise.. now cramming XP and office 03 on it for him .. that was a fun chalange.. ended up sticking in an 8gb sd card and maping it to the program files folder

    but drivers where no issue at all
  • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cadallin (863437) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:02AM (#23089690)
    No, you don't have a regular laptop. At 2lbs, the Eee 700 or 900 is about 2/3 the weight of a Thinkpad X61, about 1/2 the bulk, and about 1/2 the price as well. An X61 is a very small notebook by most peoples standards to begin with. It's already half the weight of the "average" ~5lb notebook, and much smaller than 6-8lb desktop replacement monstrosities. The Eee wins, even at the ~$500 I expect the US release to be priced at, by being a notebook you can literally carry in your (man)purse. Like a lightweight messenger bag.
  • by mollymoo (202721) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:05AM (#23089732) Journal

    (yes, I know what a USB keyboard is)
    Haven't you heard of USB keyboards ?

    Like, huh? Seriously, huh?

    (aside: The keyboard on the Eee I'm typing this on missed six keypresses during the typing of this post. Make that seven, no, nine.)

  • by mollymoo (202721) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:51AM (#23090506) Journal
    In addition to the fairly poor battery life the power consumption on standby is huge (for the 70x anyway, I doubt they've fixed it for this as it has essentially identical internals). If you go to bed and leave your half-charged Eee on standby don't count on being able to boot it in the morning before plugging it in.

    As an Eee 701 owner my advice is wait for the Atom version and the price drop when the competition hits the market. And hope they spend more than $0.12 on the keyboard next time (it's not the size, it's the quality). This market seems to be developing incredibly rapidly, even by computer hardware standards. Things will be different in two or three months time.
  • Re:xp? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:14AM (#23090934)
    The eeePC's "SSD" is some flash memory, not a smart SSD that balances writes between sectors so far as I know
  • by British (51765) <> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:18AM (#23091010) Homepage Journal
    I bought an EEE PC a month ago. Just last week I enabled the expert desktop mode after some fiddling around with a stubborn synaptic(ugh just purge the finicky entries, won't you?). I find it a lot easier to use than my Ubuntu server sitting downstairs(on a 700Mhz Athlon). Is it the speed? No. Ask me where I can set the mouse wheel scroll speed on the Ubunutu machine, and I won't know. Easily found it via the large-size Control Panel equivalent on the EEE.

    Initially, I balked at the idea of having Linux run on such a nice piece of hardware, thinking I would switch to Xp instantly. Nope, I will keep it, even after years of frustration trying to use Linux as a workstation before. I'm not running it out of Linux advocacy, I'm running it since it actually freakin' works this time. Actively using google's apps already(gmail, etc), it was a nice little touch to have them linked already on the little frontent.

    Sure, I can't quite get gcc running yet to compile downloaded apps, but I'm doing just great everywhere else. Hooking it up to a keyboard, mouse & monitor makes it a nice little workstation.
  • Re:the photos (Score:3, Informative)

    by tgd (2822) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:22AM (#23091070)
    I bought a $350 laptop (Dell B150) almost three years ago.

    Cheap laptops are nothing new, and anyone who bought an eeePC because it was cheap and not because it was small was probably unhappy with it, because even years ago you could get a full-size laptop for that price.
  • FREEEEE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yeb (7194) <`moe' `at' `'> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:27AM (#23091156) Homepage
    I am working on a project to "liberate" the EeePC so it runs only Free Software as defined by the Free Software Foundation.

    Already, most of the bits are there, but need to be patched in to the kernel (e.g. ACPI, "eee.ko", ATL2 ethernet). There is no free wifi driver working yet, but it is actively being worked on as a part of ath5k.

    The other main non-free part is the BIOS. Hopefully someday we'll be able to get coreboot running.

    My notes, docs, code, etc: []

    git repository of patched kernel:

  • Re:Multi Touch (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:27AM (#23091162)
    The original EEE could do this as well, if you enabled it in xorg.conf. Most linux distros have supported this for some time.
  • by domatic (1128127) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:32AM (#23091238)
    ASUS has recently released an SDK for these. It may be better and easier to install that on a larger machine and just transfer over compiled packages and install them. Also, I don't recommend this procedure for everyone but I got away with chucking in a source line for Debian Etch and did an "apt-get upgrade" NOT "dist-upgrade". This works well because the Xandros loaded on the unit is based on Etch. So anything I want now can be built on one of my Etch machines and installed easily. Basically as long as the KDE, QT libs, and any package that has "xandros" in the name is untouched, you can install anything built for Etch that you want.

    With a little fiddling, I also got OpenOffice 2.4, Acrobat Reader 8.1.2, and replaced Thunderbird with a FirstClass groupware client. And I'm still able to use all of that with the "Easy" interface.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:2, Informative)

    by AskChopper (1077519) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:46AM (#23091534) Homepage
    One thing that most never seem to mention, but for me was one of the biggest bonuses of the Eee, is that the charger is like a mobile phone charger.. The transformer part of it is in the plug itself, not another box with a load of heavy wires. It's a nice thin cable. The main prob with laptops for me in the past was the bulk of the charger once you wrapped the cable up around the transformer. It was hard to keep everything nice and compact. Not an issue with the tiny Eee PC and its small and LIGHT charger.
  • Re:Price difference (Score:3, Informative)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @12:04PM (#23091806)

    That sounds like and good incentive to encourage people to try out linux, but does that truly reflect the cost of XP? Is XP even worth 8GB of solid state memory?

    And wait until people figure out how easy it is in a Eee PC with Linux to NFS mount a drive to their older PCs running Linux with new 500GB drives.

    mount /movies
    cp /home/movies/hackers.mp4 /movies

    And if the newer 32GB USB drives are not enough as an adjunct, Seagate has even bigger portable drives. These are like portable DVD players, music juke boxes and PCs all in one.

  • by WhiplashII (542766) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @12:06PM (#23091852) Homepage Journal
    Although I only have the 701 EEEPC model (I'm using it to respond to you now!), my battery life experience seems to match what they said in the article - namely, about 2 hours when I am watching a movie with the wireless on.

    On the other hand, when I am on a plane with the wireless off and just typing or playing solitaire and listening to music, I get over 4 hours of life from it. So your usage pattern matters a lot.
  • by PeterBrett (780946) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @12:11PM (#23091908) Homepage

    Sure, but that's ridiculous to have to resort to giant batteries just to get a decent amount of battery life. The real problem is Linux's lack of decent power management, as well as the hardware manufacturers' reluctance to support Linux in any way. In this case, though, you'd think ASUS would have some incentive to work with Linux kernel developers to improve the situation. Sadly, though, Linux on laptops of any king is pretty abysmal when it comes to basic features like power management, suspend-and-resume, etc. windows Vista, sadly, is quite far ahead when it comes to this now. Quite usable on a laptop. Of course my 5 year-old PowerBook still beats it in terms of these things.

    Uh, do you actually use Linux, or just mouth off about it? Because while we're talking anecdotes, I can think of at least three distros which support the power management on my bog-standard Acer laptop better than the Windows XP it came with -- without any configuration hacks of any kind whatsoever.

    The real problem is people who pretend to know what they're talking about.

  • by tzanger (1575) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @12:12PM (#23091922) Homepage

    The real problem is Linux's lack of decent power management, as well as the hardware manufacturers' reluctance to support Linux in any way.

    This may have been true in the past, but I'm telling you, I get 3.5h out of this shitty Toshiba U300, without wifi, 2.5h with. Powertop is a wonderful thing, but even without it, turning the screen down and making sure the CPU hits C3 leaves me with what I'd consider acceptable battery life. Windows doesn't far any better on this thing.

    If it really was Linux at fault, wouldn't those people running XP on the eee get more battery life out of it?

  • Re:xp? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @12:29PM (#23092220)

    Of course on Linux you can easily hold the ALT key and drag the window to make the buttons visible. Not possible on windows without third party hacks.

    Alt+Space,m,[arrow keys].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @12:48PM (#23092500)
    I've looked at a *lot* of the eee competitors, and Asus is the only one using an Intel chip (Celron w/512K L2 Cache), AFAIK. The others all use the VIA chip, which only has 128K L2 Cache. Keep that in mind when shopping around for UMPC's.
  • by $random_var (919061) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:01PM (#23092660)

    On the other hand, how many people are buying this as a full time alternative to a full sized laptop?
    I can't speak as to how many customers use other laptops as well, but at 1 million units so far [] and the rest of the industry racing to catch up, I think the Eee is well past the point of a curiosity. It turns out that people actually like to buy light, cheap laptops! You're right, the battery life is an issue that will have to be resolved, but keep in mind that a lot of the highly mobile people I see using these (students, like myself) are hardly ever far from an outlet. Hopefully when they make the switch to Atom that will help the battery life.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by internewt (640704) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:18PM (#23092914) Journal

    Not any more, its a two piece power supply now. [] It looks like a figure-of-8 mains connection to the transformer, rather than a "kettle cord" or a clover leaf.

    But on the other hand, if you go to a country with different mains sockets you can take a different cable rather than an extra adapter.... but in reality you're going to want your home country's cable too, just incase.

  • I'm fairly fit, in summers, I cycle to work any time it doesn't rain, etc., etc.

    I hate carrying a heavy laptop around.

    My old 8.1 pound monster of an Inspiron 1100? :eek:
    My old 3.5 pound ThinkPad X21? Nice, very nice indeed... but it could've been lighter.
    My old 5.5 pound ThinkPad R51e? Too heavy.
    My 4.3 pound ThinkPad X61 Tablet? Could be lighter.
    My 4.9 pound iBook G4? Again, could be lighter.

    An eee (or something similar) would be GREAT for me to have at work. Something small enough to be pocketable (in a large pocket... but I have those) for running around work, for logging stuff? Perfect.
  • by ghostunit (868434) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:59PM (#23099064)
    I live in Japan and have been thinking on getting one of these cool UMPCs. I have been considering a Kohjinsha and the eee, but unfortunately they have serious drawbacks.

    The eee is shipped here only with Windows XP, which increases the price enough to no longer be attractive.

    On the other hand, the kohjinsha UMPCs are damn sleek pieces of hardware, double as tablets and have a very cool mouse-replacement similar to the Thinkpads (this and the touch screen being the best things of this machine). Unfortunately, the Windows XP model only has 512mb of ram and the mouse-replacement thingy is not as cool as the one in the Vista model, which has the 1gb and Intel A110. But come on, Vista? even if I can replace it on my own with XP, I feel kind of dirty paying for that costly Vista license.
  • Re:xp? (Score:3, Informative)

    by montyzooooma (853414) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:44AM (#23101766)
    Nope, it's a full on SSD.
  • by jhol13 (1087781) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:00AM (#23101818)
    Screen: 640 x 240 ... try to run Firefox or Netbeans on that. Something I do with EeePC without problems.

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