Reviewing the Asus Eee PC 4G
Giddy for the Eee
Excuse us for a sec, OK? We'll start the review momentarily but just need to switch into our Professional PC Critic Veteran Reviewer Voice Omigod! That is like the cutest thing EVER lemme see lemme see! Oh I so have to get one of these RIGHT NOW only two pounds could you DIE? Four C's you WISH, come on no way WAY, $400? Omigod I am like losing it right here. Hello? Paper bag? Breathe into?
Ahem. The Taiwanese tech heavyweight Asus, best known here for motherboards and other desktop components, has introduced a $400 laptop with most of the capability of a $2,000 Sony or Fujitsu subnotebook; the convenience and usability missing from members of Intel's Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) club; and the goofiest name of the year.
The Eee PC -- named for "easy to work, easy to learn, easy to play"; you may also enjoy the Asus motto "Rock Solid, Heart Touching" -- is a two-pound traveling companion for anyone who'd like basic office productivity and WiFi Web and e-mail access in a system slightly bigger than a stack of three DVD cases (about 6.5 by 9 by 1.4 inches).
Does it really compare to a status-symbol slimline notebook? Feature for feature, of course not. Instead of an 11- or 12-inch LCD, the Asus has a bright but bitsy 7-inch display. If you want a CD or DVD drive, you'll have to plug in an external USB model.
And instead of a roomy hard disk, it has no hard disk at all -- the 4G is named for its 4GB solid-state (flash memory) drive, only 1.4GB of which is available after Asus installs the operating system and 40-odd applications. For extra storage, you must plug an MMC/SD card into a slot or a flash drive into a USB port.
But can your Vaio or XPS shrug off the bumps and jolts of travel with the no-moving-parts panache of a PC without a delicate hard drive? Can it boot from a cold start to be ready for work in 25 seconds? Or shut down in 10? Is its AC adapter a seven-ounce, palm-sized plug?
The reasons why the Eee is sensational are simple: Other notebooks as easy to carry cost a lot more than $400. And other notebooks that cost $400 weigh a lot more than two pounds.