Monday, December 8, 2008

Why Asus eee 901?

I ordered a black Asus eee 901 last week, and it should arrive in two days. Here I make some notes on how I decided on the Eee.

Reference reviews:

I have tired of carrying my Thinkpad T61 to conferences after a few trips, and news comes that everyone is making 9" "netbook" now. I read about Asus' news release before their first Eee PC a year ago, but a 7" screen on a 9" frame discoraged me. Now the 9-inches comes out and it's time for me to jump in. In fact, I have quite a few to choose from: Asus Eee 901, Acer Aspire One, Dell Mini 8, HP 2133 MiniNote.

First thing first, what I'm looking for in a tiny computer?

i) able to run Linux. All four models have linux version, so this is not a problem.

ii) using SSD rather than magnetic HD to save weight (sorry, HP). HD capacity is not very import to me -- I'm not going to carry all the simulation data with me, and a few Gig for programming and document writting is enough. In this case, the added weight and vunerability is a big minus.

iii) size and weight. The wasted boarder on the screen panel does not make any sense to me, although this would allow a slightly bigger keyboard. In this regard, the HP is the worst, followed by the Acer.

iv) Battery life. The Eee comes with 6-cell battery, which might last 6-7 hours. The Aspire also has a 6-cell battery option, but only with the HDD version. Dell and HP come with 4-cell and 3-cell, which is not good although the Dell weighs less. However, 1.04kg and 1.1 kg do not really make a difference when sitting on your knees; the added 3 hours' more computing time is much more attractive.

v) Intel Atom processor preferred. Intel's latest processor consumes less power, yet it's performance comprimises little. Again, no HP.

vi) upgradable/expandable. 12-16 Gig of SSD is probably not enough, and 1GB of memory is definitely not.

vii) display resolution. For a 8.9" screen, 1024x600 is enough. The HP has a 1280x800 screen, but you will most like using a larger font to make it readable. It's a plus, but only by a little bit.

viii) I hate glassy coating on any computer screen. This pretty much rules out everyone except the Eee.

So now,
HP 2133 MiniNote: no SSD version, using non-Atom processor, large, short battery life;
Acer Aspire One: glassy finishing, large, short battery life;
This two are out of question, which leave me with
Dell Mini 8: glassy finishing, short battery life but light;
Asus Eee 901: heavy but much longer battery life;

First of all, why any one still want to buy from Dell? Besides, the 12GB version of Eee 901 was on sale at at the time of my purchase ($350), and M$ live search gives 10% cashback. I would very like to get the 20GB linux version, but it's $150 more. I also ordered a 2GB kingston memory and a 8GB A-Data SDHC card from the Egg for the total of $30. These should meet my immediate need.

One of the biggest complaint about the Eee in most reviews is its undersized keyboard. Many people claim that they have to resolve to two-finger typing. Although my hands are not huge, they are not tiny either. We will see how it feels.

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