Things you should know before buying an Asus EEE PC

April 2nd, 2008 by lucas

I’ve been using an EEE PC since december, and people keep asking me if they should buy one. So here are some things you should know before making a decision.

Screen

The screen is small, but that’s OK. I couldn’t find many applications that didn’t work in 800×480. And for the remaining ones, you can usually use hacks such as running the app in a larger virtual desktop. Not ideal, but it works. Regarding usability, it’s not a too big problem. Jut expect to use many apps maximized, and use scrolling and virtual desktops a lot. (Important note: Xmoto doesn’t work!!)

Keyboard

The keyboard is probably a bigger problem than the screen (I hadn’t expected it to be a so big problem before buying the laptop). Every other keyboard seems to have HUGE keys after typing on the EEE PC keyboard. But with some training, you can type quite fast, even if probably not as fast as with a full size keyboard. The layout of the “special” keys is quite good (esp. the PgUp/Down, Home and End keys on the arrows. I should remap my other keyboard like that).

Battery, power consumption

One big problem with the EEE PC is that it consumes a lot of power while sleeping (using suspend to RAM). If you leave it sleeping for more than a few hours, expect the battery to be empty. That really sucks, especially since suspend to disk isn’t really a good option on such a device. Another problem related to power is that charging the battery is quite slow.

SDHC card reader

If you want to expand the storage capacity of your EEE PC with the SDHC port, choose your SDHC card carefully. There are only a few cards that work. The other ones will cause write error (they will work in read-only mode, so I’m using an external card reader to write, which sucks). A list of supported cards is available in the EEE PC manual.

Random Q&A

Q: I don’t have a laptop. Should I buy it?

A: If you want to do a lot of real work on it, it’s probably not a very good idea. There are faster (but bigger) laptops at around 450-500 EUR. They are probably a much better option. The EEE PC is perfect as a the second laptop you only bring to places where you want to stay connected, read email and surf on the web (like conferences and meetings).

Q: Does the VGA output works well?

A: Yes. And it uses an Intel video card which works like a charm with xrandr. I already gave several presentations and classes using it. The laptop can output 1280×1024 (maybe 1600×1200, not sure). The only problem is that you will only have the top-left part of your slides on the laptop’s screen, because of the smaller resolution there. Annoying if you plan to read your slides.

Conclusion

So, should you buy one? If you can’t wait, go ahead. If you can wait, it might be a good idea to wait until Asus fixes some of the problems (the SDHC card reader and the power consumption while sleeping are the most annoying ones).

13 Responses to “Things you should know before buying an Asus EEE PC”

  1. Tester wrote on 04/2/08 at 9:18 pm :

    You make it sound like its more a massive (as in size) competitor to the N810 than a real laptop?

  2. Henry wrote on 04/2/08 at 9:31 pm :

    Xmoto doesn’t work

    Well, that pretty much kills it for me.

  3. lucas wrote on 04/2/08 at 9:42 pm :

    @Tester: no. You can write emails/documents on the EEE. The above blog post was written on it, at a reasonable typing speed. I wouldn’t have written that using the N810 keyboard.

    @Henry: I have a patch, but the problem is that the menus are hardly usable. They should change the layout of the menus to use less space on the screen.

  4. oskude wrote on 04/2/08 at 10:35 pm :

    interesting,

    i ordered mine a week ago, but i assume (according to media i read) it’s still gonna take a while until we get any new eeepcs in germany at all, no ?

    your post makes me wonder about the hardware, the software i will be replacing with other FLOSS software anyway :)

    do you know if that suspend-to-ram memory consumption is a software or hardware “failure” ? same for the card reader, software or hardware ?

    thanks for your thoughts!

  5. mauro wrote on 04/2/08 at 11:32 pm :

    the ibook uses the keys (FnKey+ARROW) for pgup, pgdown, etc. that’s just freaking cool

  6. lucas wrote on 04/3/08 at 9:07 am :

    @oskude: I have wondered about hardware vs software for the suspend-to-ram and the sdhc problems too, but don’t have an answer.

  7. jd wrote on 04/3/08 at 9:43 am :

    Not very agree on the SDHC part seems I’ve bough the first I found and it works like a charm.

  8. lucas wrote on 04/3/08 at 10:06 am :

    @jd: you were lucky :-)

  9. Links for April 3rd, 2008 at wolfgang.lonien.de wrote on 04/3/08 at 12:13 pm :

    [...] NAS Performance Comparison Charts Build a Cheap and Fast RAID 5 NAS xmoto The Flip Phoronix Test Suite Released Things you should know before buying an Asus EEE PC Flip Video Ultra on Linux Evaluating Fibre to the Home My first (real) Debian repo Download Video from the Command Line [...]

  10. Rex wrote on 04/3/08 at 2:21 pm :

    Which EEE model are you using?

  11. lucas wrote on 04/3/08 at 3:01 pm :

    @Rex: 701, 4G SSD

  12. cripppler wrote on 04/11/08 at 8:25 am :

    Huh… Slightly addled, but on the whole I like this post. You’ve got some fresh ideas. But please, write more lucid.

  13. Mic wrote on 04/19/08 at 4:03 am :

    fnow this doesn’t fits into your blog but am a First time laptop user …

    struggling over a 14″ Lenovo, 12″ Compaq and a 7″ EEE.

    using for homework, any comments :-)