/ BLOG / A brief moment with the Asus eeePC

I’ve been looking at getting an Asus eeePC for about a week or so now, but tonight was the first time I’ve actually got one in my hands. My first thought was “good lord this is small”, which whilst being very stupid is also a fairly valid statement. When you measure up it size on paper it appears reasonably sized, but in the flesh it is ridiculously small.

Sadly this is a problem. I do want something in the ultra mobile to small portable arena that runs linux and a number of other OS' well, but I want to use it for coding, etc. This is where the eeePC would let me down I fear. The keyboard and keys are very, very small and I was having an interesting time using it on the shop demo unit even for browsing to websites. Now I’d undoubtedly get used to this, but there are other concerns. The screen is small, which wouldn’t be a problem in Vim, but going from a desktop running 2560x1024 to that running 800x480 was a hell of a culture shock that I’d not prepared myself for. Multi-tasking was a very interesting thing to do. My final gripe was the touchpad. It’s really, really small. Also a given when you consider the size of the entire thing, but it looks like the only way you can get around the “simple” gui is to set the sensitivity high (too much so for my liking naturally, others may find it perfect).

However, all said the demo unit was still in one piece and looked very solid and clean, and was very responsive when you consider it’s specs.

Would I get one? Almost certainly, but not for the reason I actually was looking to get one in the first place. The eeePC would make a perfect web browser on the move, if you’re around lots of WiFi hotspots, and want the ability to do more than you could on a PDA, smartphone or iPhone. It’s also perfect if you’re new to Linux, or computing in general. If you’re a veteran of the IT world then there’s use in it for you also as it’s very hackable (as demonstrated by the clever folks over at eeeuser.com). However, for almost anything else I’d suggest that it’s a toy or novelty. The screen is the biggest problem for me, which I honestly found very surprising. Perhaps running a different window manager, such as Enlightenment, or (Flux|Open|Black)box, may resolve this. When I get one I’ll certainly be replacing Xandros at least!

However this means that I am still on my hunt for a decent, well built, primary use laptop with good support for a wide range of OS'. I’ve been considering a Macbook as I really like the quality of the hardware. Who knows though.