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.
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!!)
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.
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.
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).