back to article Asus Eee PC 4G sub-sub-notebook

Asus' diminutive Eee PC 4G 701 micro-laptop is here. It's garnered an amazing welcome from computer users looking not for the acme of performance but for a highly portable wireless notebook with a decent battery life. Will they be disappointed? First, for anyone's who's missed the Eee PC hoopla, Asus' little laptop is like a …

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Anonymous Coward

LAMP

Can you get a LAMP stack running on it?

it would make a perfect development server as i could take it with me when im on the road.

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Fun, but too low res and limited battery power

Perhaps it's ok for running Linux, but modern versions of Windows don't fit into 640x480 without minimising the task bar.. It really needs more than 480 vertical pixels. Screen is too small, too.

3.5 hours also fails the 'pick up and go' test. I have two palm devices I still use occasionally. One is colour with SD slots etc, manages 3-4 hours battery and gradually reduces over time. The other is mono, much slower, can be left for weeks at a time, and has a long runtime. Guess which gets picked up more..

Still, it remains quite tempting, regardless. Even if my first thought about purchasing one is 'How does this compare to a refurbished/2nd hand Thinkpad X series with a new battery?'

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Go

Swap

Waitaminit, 512mb RAM and about 1.2gb HD left? So don't write anything down or there's no swap space? Or did the 2.9gb usage already include swap space?

As for battery drainage, comparing Ubuntu to MacosX, you can dim an ibook's or powerbook's screen to pure blackness under the second but only marginal dimming (and hence energy savings) under the first. So obvious power savings can be made in future.

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Stop

I give up

Couldn't resist could you. Nope no way. You just had to use the picture of the blonde one more time.

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2GB vs 4GB

Any idea what's cut out on the 2GB versions, given that the default installation seems to take almost 3GB? Not that I would consider the 2GB one these days, but it might indicate where some "trimming" could be done to release a bit more SSD space on the 4GB one.

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RE: Swap

Every linux install I've ever done, you have to set up a specific partition for swap when you install the system, so I would imagine that the quoted amount of space free is what's left after that.

Could be wrong though.

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Alert

ASUS EEE - waterproof?

My ASUS EEE just got shipped today, I can't wait to see it on Monday. A serious question, as it has no moving parts, how waterproof is it if it falls in the bath? Cellphones seem to survive after a 3 day dry out. Anyone tried it?

Lyndsay Williams www.lyndsayw.com

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Paris Hilton

RM

Looks as though RM has got them even cheaper for 'educational' purposes, including the 2Gb version

http://www.rm.com/LEA/Products/product.asp?cref=PD1030046

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SDHC

Just by sticking a 16/32 GB SD card in there It suddenly becomes much more useful, especially considering there are no moving parts, so you can carry it about without worrying over a ruined HDD. The rumored 10' model would be a lot better, but by then we're aproaching decent budget laptop prices.

This is what I hoped SSD would give us. But for now my plan is still to stick a 32GB SSD into a X61 tablet for browsing on the move.

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Happy

A few links would have been nice

If you google around a bit, you'll find that this thing is being hacked the hell out of it already. You *can* install Ubuntu, XP (easy) and even OS X on it (if you're brave).

By adding some more servers to the software repository list you can install many Debian packages. Of course you can install Apache and friends.

512MB RAM seem meager today, but with Linux this is more than enough, there's no need for swap space (which isn't wise to use on a flash drive anyway, too many write operations to be healthy in the long run).

The three and a half hours of battery juice is indeed a bit disappointing, but the charger seems to be small enough to toss it in the bag along with the machine, so you can top up the battery as soon as you find something to plug it into.

*Very* tempting, that thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Windows

Why do people want XP on this?! It will be near unusable by the time you have installed office and patched it. Think of it like the Nokia tablet, but in laptop form factor.

@ Marvin - There is no swap partition (or file) on an eee. Just as well with a SSD.

@ LAMP - you can put a LAMP server on this if you so wish.

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Happy

Nothing but good things to say.

I have to admit I have been looking forward to this thing, but then I am an early adopter and I picked mine up on Monday. Today you find me down the pub with a laptop I can put in my pocket while I buy a pint, sure it's limited but for pure compact browsing power, online access, quick and dirty tool you can whip out and work with on the spot you can't beat it. This is not a desktop replacement, this is not a laptop, this a tool and it is an absolute joy.

I expect great things, there is already a large online community developing, check it out...

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Swap + Flash Usage

I got one of these for my wife to do some light browsing and check her email from the sofa - works amazingly well for those uses.

About the previous comments:

Swap:

There's no swap at all - and you don't really need swap space on Linux to run the type of apps that are on the Eee anyway.

2GB vs 4GB:

I expect they've simply removed the restore partition that takes up quite a bit of the flash on the 4GB version (it's not really needed anyway, as you can restore the OS from a USB key or external DVD drive anyway).

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Coat

I don't understand what all the fuss is about...

Circa 2000 I had a Parkard Bell Easymate 800. I know it wasn't a celeron, I know it had piddly RAM/ROM but it did have an 800x600 screen and a compact flash slot for storage and a dial -up modem, BUT this was 7 nearly 8 years ago!! At the time I thought it was great, I could synch it up with my PC and transfer docs across that I had created on Office CE pro and it had great battery life... It was touchscreen and not trackpad but to be honest I would prefer that on a machine this size.

I think if I spent money on the Eee PC I would feel a bit let down as if I allowed 8 years of advancements to go on top of the Easymate 800, I would expect more than what the Eee PC is now.

You may compare the selling price of both machines and say the Eee PC is much cheaper, but then again a standard desktop of that time would also be far more expensive than a standard desktop is now (my desktop then was a Dell Dimension XPS600 and cost around 1200-1400 quid - Still going strong by the way!).

I'll step back and prepare to get flamed then...

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Anonymous Coward

Keyboards fine

but I intend to get a pocket mouse for it soon as I can I was impressed that open office started so fast. Need to get a thumb drive to run LAMP but as far as memory is concerned it's got enough for that. BTW I'm pretty sure your not going to get any more battery life from XP I think the author is mistaken.

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Gold badge

Letdown?

"I think if I spent money on the Eee PC I would feel a bit let down as if I allowed 8 years of advancements to go on top of the Easymate 800, I would expect more than what the Eee PC is now."

That's why it is £220 pounds, yes that's right, a fraction of most UMPCs. Even a second hand 12 inch Apple Powerbook is bigger than this laptop and will still cost more.

If you don't know the concept of ultramobile then you probably don't need an ultramobile device.

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Happy

Happy eeePC users!

I've had mine for 2 weeks and my gf has had it for about a week now and I must admit that we both love it!

Hers is running XP + Office 2003 and it's ideal for her report writing and checking email. (After customisation, XP took up just over a 1.2gig on the SSD).

Mine's running Ubuntu (around 2gig in size) and Compiz-Fusion works very very well on this tiny machine... There's a youtube video of someone showing off Compiz on the eeePC somewhere.

The battery life is a tad shorter on these OSe's, and in general, but enough for one or two sessions when you're out and about. Anyway, reports are that ASUS will bring out an 6 cell extended battery which I'll happily outfit the eeePC with and still not complain of the extra weight!

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Anonymous Coward

Maths

7in, 100dpi, LED-backlit, 800 x 480 screen....

hmm.. 8inch? 700x480? or 115dpi?

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So why

is the battery life so rubbish?

My MacBook Pro has a 5500mAH battery and that lasts around 3hrs normal usage, but it has a 15" screen and a hard disk.

Is it really poor energy efficiency of the OS or is it poor choice of energy efficient components e.g. the screen?

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One major omission

Shame there's no Bluetooth, or it might get my money instead of the new Nokia N810.

An ultra-portable is great if you have wifi, but if not, you need a BT tether to a phone.

Alistair

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WiFi != good battery life

The iBook here has far better battery life with WiFi turned off, and I suspect the same would be true here, independent of the OS. And typically Linux sucks less power on a desktop, but those pesky cron jobs may wake it up too often and unnecessarily. So just a little "obvious" tuning and I bet battery live would improve.

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Old Tech?

The reason that I have an EeePC in my bag is simple. It has replaced my IBM TP240, because I can see the screen. Although smaller it is so much clearer!

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Lee

3G upgrade

"Turn the Eee PC over and there's a large cover. If you're willing to invalidate your warranty, you can open it up to expose the memory slot - the 701 has a 512MB 400MHz DDR 2 DIMM in place already, but it'll take a 1GB module - and the expansion bay. The latter is presumably where the anticipated 3G connectivity module will go."

So you can buy the 3G module separately? Any ideas regarding availability and costs?

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eee vs. OLPC?

Is the screen bright enough on this to really read it on the beach? Or is the advertising pic with the blonde just marketing garbage*

Compare this with the One Laptop Per Child "XO" which was designed from the start to have an "outdoor" screen and an infinite battery life - just pull the rip-cord and keep going.

I SO wish the Give One Get One scheme http://laptopgiving.org/en/index.php was available in the UK!

*and please can you show the pic again so we can study it further...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re. 3G upgrade

Asus tells me the 3G upgrade's coming by the end of the year and that it'll be offered on its own, as an upgrade technical users can perform themselves.

There's no word on price yet.

Anyone waiting the 8GB model isn't likely to see one before the new year - Asus' Eee PC production is current focused entirely on the 2GB and 4GB models, I'm told.

The other colours - pink, green and blue - will be coming in 2008 too.

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Power Saving...

Those of you with EeePCs may be interested in this fine website: http://www.lesswatts.org/tips/

They offer tips and tricks for optimising power consumption on linux-based computer.

The problem with power drain whilst sleeping sounds suspiciously like misconfigured or faulty ACPI...

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Silver badge

Mini PCI-e socket missing on newer models

Some of the newer 701 Eee models don't have the mini PCI-e socket soldered onto the mainboard, which I'd take as putting a stop to any rumours of a 3G mini PCI-e card for the 701, or even SSD memory expansion.

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Jobs Halo

Its cute but....

The battery life is not what I'd hoped for in a unit of its size, and I like that its Linux. But they couldn't have even pulled 800x600? Tried to view a webpage in 640x480 recently?

But I'm going to watch and wait. Apple, has a sub notebook aimed at this market share coming soon that is going to blow this out of the water with power and features.

I'm waiting on seeing how bad the PRICE on the Apple is is before I look into one of these. I love the people going "It would be great if it only had windows" I consider its lack of windows its strongest selling point, and frankly so did everyone else at the display where I was playing with it.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re. Screen Size

The screen resolution is 800 x 480, folks - not 640 x 480 as quite a few posters are stating.

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Go

No more internal Mini-PCI-E slot

The 3G modem accessory must be external. On newer revisions of the hardware build, people over on the EEEUser.com forums are reporting that there is no connector on the board for the mini pci-e slot.

(Plus, we've seen some photos around of a device which looks rather like an Asus-branded Huawei 3g usb modem - the same technology that Three and Voda supply as "mobile broadband" products).

It is fairly easy to hack your way out of the Easy Mode interface as shown (big icons etc.) and in to "Full Mode" - a KDE desktop environment but which still has some nice GUI utilities for adjusting a load of settings. It's ideal for me as an intermediate meddler-with-linux.

The SD card slot will take SDHC cards too, but SDHC is surprisingly slow to use. It also gets on just fine with my 4gb high-speed usb flash drive. It plays XVID video very nicely indeed, no conversions needed - just bring your AVI files!

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Happy

2 happy eeePC users

I've had mine for 2 weeks and my gf has had it for about a week now and I must admit that we both love it!

Hers is running XP + Office 2003 and it's ideal for her report writing and checking email. (After customisation, XP took up just over a 1.2gig on the SSD).

Mine's running Ubuntu (around 2gig in size) and Compiz-Fusion works very very well on this tiny machine... There's a youtube video of someone showing off Compiz on the eeePC somewhere.

The battery life is a tad shorter on these OSe's, but enough for one or two sessions when you're out and about. Anyway, reports are that ASUS will bring out an 6 cell extended battery which I'll happily outfit the eeePC with and still not complain of the extra weight!

At the end of the day it's a small portable laptop that you can easily carry around, can be customised with your own OS, quick at the programs it was intended for, and a compromise to travelling with a conventional laptop considering the price involved.

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Anonymous Coward

battery life

suss it out - how often will you need a portable for only 3.5 hours? That's half a trip. Until someone puts a real battery into one of these things (not necessarily a eee thingy) they're useless.

Now if it could give me say 6 or 7 hours battery I'd be willing to spend a premium on it.

And that's the only thing this is missing as far as I'm concerned - just give me the battery life and I'll buy one.

Even if it costs me another £100 it'll be worth it becouse with that kind of life it has a real use, although it wont get me to Japan. ( you got the train to the airport the 3 hour wait, the 10 hour flight) 3.5 battery is just a waste of my time.

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Boffin

Not using Xandros...?

Be careful if you're installing an OS other than the default one; because the EEE PC runs on an SSD it suffers from limited write cycles. I believe the pre-installed OS features a wear-levelling filesystem which helps to improve the lifetime of the SSD, but if you install one that doesn't, you can kiss the lifetime of your SSD goodbye!

You could put in a SDHC card and install your alternative OS on to that, install the bootloader (grub/lilo/ntloader) on to the SSD and tell it to boot from the SHDC. That way you're ruining your SDHC (relatively inexpensive) rather than the SSD (really expensive) and you can take it out for security if you wanted to.

Not that I won't try to install Xubuntu+Beryl on it, of course...

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Mac devotee likes eee pc

As a journalist, I have been praying for a lightweight thing to write on, when on my travels.

I have two heavy cameras when I'm on a job, so my iBook stays at home most of the time, because my back can only take so much lugging on and off trains and cabs.

I have ordered the little Asus from Micro Anvika. Hope they get stock again soon.

Thank god it DOESN'T HAVE bloody Windows on it. The less Microsoft I have in my life the better. I am sure this Linux thing will be fine. I am not tempted to fiddle with the thing and break it. Not even sure what these "distro" things are people talk about all the time. If I buy a washing machine, I really don't want to know what rubber bands are inside the thing, as long as it washes my socks!

Alex Mac

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Waterproof!?

I hope you're joking! It's got a fairly standard laptop keyboard, speakers, etc.; it's not as rugged as a mobile phone and would definitely let water right through it. Don't harm your eee PC! There should be an organisation preventing cruelty to these little beauties.

Oh ... and, Windows XP? Got to be kidding. It'll get discontinued shortly for Vista anyway, and THAT bloated shit will never run on an eee PC. Why would you want buy a nice, neat unit like this and install that bag of turds? I prefer my nice, new machines to work.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't blame Linux for Asus' default settings.

The battery drain while sleeping issue that you had isn't some fault of Linux, it's just a configuration option that Asus set. There are multiple sleep modes in machines with ACPI - apparently they chose "suspend to RAM" which allows for extremely fast wakeups but uses some power rather than "suspend to disk" which takes longer to wake up but uses no power. Windows and Mac OS would behave the same if configured this way.

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Unhappy

OS affecting battery usage while suspended?

Why would the OS affect the battery life while the machine is suspended?

The CPU is shut off while asleep, and things are controlled by the laptop's embedded controller. If the Eee PC drains half its battery overnight while suspended, that is likely to be true of whatever OS you install on it.

Assuming that it isn't a an unfixable hardware bug, this is the sort of thing a BIOS upgrade would be likely to fix.

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Boffin

Asus EEE Black or White? and MoGo Bluetooth. Mousepad 'tap'

The black Asus eeePC is matt black (not galaxy black) and is much nicer than any of the press photos show. It is not two tone but completely matt black. The white is a glossier 'sheen' white that shows finger prints more. There is not really much between the two, if your an Apple Fan you will probably prefer white, if corporate is your colour, black. I actually prefer the black but mainly because I didn't expect it to be so nice. Both are rock solid in terms of build quality.

Had a couple of glitches with the file manager over the network to a Buffalo Linkstation, and video in skype doesn't work out of the box - installed the Skype 2.0 Beta for Linux (as easy as a windows install), and enabled the camera in the bios - to get it to work, it worked really well.

For Bluetooth: the minature 4mm 'Plug and leave' MoGo Bluetooth Adapter looks like the Asus eeePC's perfect partner.

http://www.newtonperipherals.com/mogo_dapter.html

Spoke to Newton Peripherals, they think it is a great oportunity and they would like to provide support out the box on Asus, and possibily in different colours to match Asus's pink,green,blue.

If anyone has a contact at Asus or from Asus is reading this; might be worth getting in touch with Newton Peripherals to make this happen.

Currently it supports Windows/Macs according to the blurb but they are very keen to provide Asus/Linux support. I haven't tried a larger bluetooth adapter with the Asus yet, might be it just need the bluetooth software support/might already be built in.

This is the equivalent of the BMW Mini in terms of build quality, design, how it 'drives', usability - all the talk of bigger displays, more internal storage, bigger keyboards - it all has power trade offs. Its like asking to turn it into a 5 Series, you lose what you had, which is a well made, solid all round little workhorse at a price point, that makes it a little gem. Put £200 in perspective - it costs £50 to fill up your car, and thats if you drive a Mini.

Last Point: A little known fact, the mouse pad does allow you to 'tap', so the button isn't really needed half as much as the reviewer states.

Adam

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Silver badge

Price comparison

Eee is $400Cdn, 'Normal' laptops start at $450Cdn.

I'm not sure if the price point is quite right.

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Thumb Up

It's great!

Typing this from one now!

The screen is 800*480 but it's still a bit narrow for some web sites. The best fix for this is to install Opera (you'll need to use the "Other distrubutions" version) and use the "Fit to width" option. This works exremely well.

As others have said there's no swap as it'll bugger the solid state 'hard drive' too quickly. It seems to tick over fairly happliy on 512Mb with a web browser and Open Office open at once but I suspect that a 1Gb SODIMM would be a wise inventment going forward.

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Thumb Up

Great toy

Went up the TCR today for a play with a demo model - and it looks perfect for what I want it for. It's a remote access weapon I can take to the pub when I'm on call. A real laptop is too heavy, too bulky and too much of a "mug me" sign in SE1, and if I lose or break a machine that costs £200 I'll just buy another one.

Only slight problem is that nobody has any left. But I've put my name down for the next batch of stock.

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Heart

No Bloatware!

Wanted to add the Asus eeePC's has none of the usual Bloatware/slow loading associated with Cheap Windows PCs, and Asus should be commended for this.

You switch it on it loads the desktop and your away, wireless is just a case of entering the Pre shared key if its a secure network. No installing patches, removing programs that you didn't need or want, 10mins trying to force over your IE7 Live search to Google, (yes I am really sure?), having to register software before I can use it, or activate it over the phone, because the network firewall refuses, then to find the internal phone system won't let me dial a number in Ireland. What there is to miss from 450CDN 'Normal' pcs!

I'm starting to feel paraniod - are negative reviews (across several sites) being posted by MS Employees? Surely MS isn't scared of the sweet little Asus eeePC? Maybe they are just wondering if people will actually pay for a Windows XP Version when the Linux does its job pretty much perfectly, without effort - those sales figures could be embarrasing. This is more a knock at all the hours setting up Windows, with the 81Patches out the box, and the patches on patches, but the Asus does just work out of the box, with everything you need, so it is pretty easy to knock Windows.

Really it doesn't need XP (its not a drug - you can live without it). Maybe this little Asus has come from clever angle with Asus/Linux combi and hit MS where it hurts, Windows Mobile dead in the water? and to be fair the Apple iphone too. Afterall there were no questions raised about SSD drives when Toshiba launches the R500? (using Windows Vista)

Get yourself a Nokia 6300 PAYG and an Asus eeePC, save on the iphone contract, and the £35 wil buy your wife flowers every month for 18months. (And if its your husband - well get him a decent haircut, for a start)

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Thumb Up

Happy with mine....

Sure there are limitations but that goes with the spec. It does what I expected.

@install LAMP - have nearly got XAMPP working (all seems well but see an error message).

Just need to get a CVS client installed. Any pointers most welcome.

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Thumb Up

Why XP on EeePC?

For me, it's simple. I ride a motorcycle, and thus the SSD - vastly more vibration proof than any hard drive - makes perfect sense. But one of the major apps I want on my traveling companion is MS' _Streets & Trips_, and there is nothing remotely comparable available for Linux. From what I've seen, WINE is not an option, not least because (as one might expect of something like this from MS), S&T obtains road construction updates via Internet Exploiter.

For anyone who is tempted to suggest a "regular" laptop - obviously they've never packed a bike for a long trip. Space is at a premium, another point on which the EeePC excels.

An EeePC, a wee USB GPS module and S&T under (nLite-ed) XP - fantastic for what I want.

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Flame

minipci?

apparently no black variants have the minipci socket, and the newer white ones are also missing it - look for the B in the serial number so I'm told.

I still think the nanobook is more interesting.

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Boffin

Bluetooth

Instead of Newton Peripherals, how about Princeton:

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/adapters/tiny-bluetooth-adapter-is-mostly-usb-smallest-ever-293856.php

Is tiny.

Runs with Linux.

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Coat

@Dana W

"Tried to view a webpage in 640x480 recently?"

Eh, I view webpages at 320x240 all the time (yeah, gotta love Opera mobile on the TyTN 1").

As for the Eee PC itself, well, I'd rather have one with anything but an Intel CPU, particularly if it's a Celeron.

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Thumb Down

Remember why it's small...

It's designed for kids at school (also why it's cheap) - RM is branding it as their own I believe. That's why the keyboard is sized for a 5 year old's fingers :-)

Also, re people saying there is not moving parts - I take it you don't count fans as moving then ? Asus's newer 8Gb model is supposed to be fan free though.

Really want one but my Lenovo X60 has a 12 inch screen, 1.8 processor,3Gb RAM,120 Gb hard disk, lasts 8 hours on battery and has the 'nipple' mouse. Also only weighs 1.3 kg, .5 kg more than the EEE.

And if you see Nikon's latest flagship digital camera, it's 3 inch LCD on the back is very clean and viewable VGA (640x480) size so a 7 inch screen should really be at least 1024x768 nowadays.

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Flame

Comparative size pictures?

If someone is going to review a device where the major feature of the item is its size then can we please have photos that show it in a real world setting with reviewers hands on keyboard, on laps or next to other desktop items. Regurgitating the the marketing pictures of the blond on the beach was just lazy and doesn't count.

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Happy

Another perspective...

Well, My XP Pro install couldnt have gone more smoothly... nlited out all the nonsense (legacy drivers, media centre components, movie maker) and disabled a load of useless services. I should highlight that this was VERY easy with Nlite (happy to provide the nlite config for anyone who wants it!).

Installed size it a hair over 1GB.

First thing to do once it boots up for the first thing is to ensure that Swapfile is disabled (saving space and protecting the SSD drive). Also, consider disabling the indexing servince, system restore, and backgroud defrag. All of these will otherwise:-

A) Use memory

B) Use Hard disk space

C) Use CPU Time

D) Eat idle battery

Now... my eee is running (with all drivers) at 0%CPU idle, ~90meg Ram usage, and is EXTREMELY reponsive.

I feel that despite the solid percentage, the el'reg reviewer is beating down on the unit a bit hard. Contrary to most users, I found the built in "appliance" frontend a bit crap, totally locked down and generally unresponsive in opening apps. It also runs at 256 meg idle ram usage!

the 900mhz (actually running at 630 due to lowered FSB bus speed!) CPU copes beautifully with a neat XP build, and the 512mb of ram is also perfectly adequete (without any swapfile noless!). No doubt I'll look at sticking a 1GB or 2GB chip in there at a later date - but not as soon as I expected I'd want to.

Finally, I want to highlight that for a mere £220 quid (inc vat!), I have a responsive, unbeatably versatile, eye catching, highly mobile device that delivers a solid 4 hours usage (with wireless disabled and screen at a readable 60% brightness) and which I can slip in my bag for plugging into remote networks, Cisco switches, light web usage (as previously mentioned, a hell of a lot better than a 320x240 phone screen!), light picture manipulation and office app usage, and really whatever else I find I need it to do while on my travels. I feel that Asus have missed a trick on this one - its being pitched as a mobile web access machine, but its real calling is in the hands of IT users who'll stick on a real OS and wiil be using it to run hyperteminal, RDP onto servers, and as a troubleshooting terminal while out in the field.

#Phil

PS - Did I mention that the mains adaptor isnt a block - its like a Nokia phone wall charger! - hardly a nightmare to carry around!

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