Asus eeePC 700 Review

Discussion in 'Reviews and Articles' started by tweakmonkey, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    My eeePC arrived today. Here are my impressions so far.
    The stock Xandros install just felt very lacking and has limited expandability for other programs, so I tried Windows XP using an external optical drive.

    Windows XP installed very quickly (under an hour including all the drivers, which install from a single click off the CD).

    Then I decided I'd try Linux, so I put Xubuntu for the eeePC (there's a distribution packaged for this gadget), but I ran into plenty of issues. I had issues getting the sound to work, then it couldn't install Flash no matter how many attempts I made following various guides, then I had issues getting Skype to work. I had enough after about 3 hours of screwing with it and went back to XP I'm sad to admit. :)

    OSX sounds nice, but on the eeePC there are currently no drivers for the wifi, ethernet, display (so you don't even get 800x480, you get 640x480), webcam, or mic -- making it totally not worth it.

    XP runs damn well with 512 MB since it's all stripped out. I ran all the basic tweaks I know, turned off the background image and special effects, etc. The whole install took a minimal amount of disk space since I downloaded a "performance" edition instead of going straight off my XP Pro CD.

    What else so far... The touchpad is tiny, but there's no gripes here. It works fine despite its small size. The resolution doesn't bother me much once I switched Firefox to small icons and hid the bookmarks toolbar. I set the XP taskbar to auto-hide, scoring another 50 or so pixels. I use the browser in full screen mode and prefer alt tabbing to another browser over using tabs (since they take another 40 pixels of vertical space or so).

    Youtube videos run fine, even maximized. I haven't tried music but I'm sure it's okay. Skype runs pretty poorly and with video it put the CPU at 100% without any hope of use (at this time). I'll try making more tweaks to it later.

    The only real complaint I have is the keyboard which is obviously tiny. I can type pretty fast on it (>80 WPM) if I look down every now and then, but I type almost twice as fast on a full size keyboard. With practice I'm sure I can get my speed to a reasonable rate. The shift key on the right side is tiny which is really annoying, and the backspace key is undersized (larger than the shift key at least). Practice probably makes perfect. I'll have a lot of time to evaluate all of this before I write a formal review.

    Here's a pic of the eeePC sitting next to my brother's 15.4" Toshiba. It's amazing how big a "normal" notebook is next to this cute little thing. :D
    [​IMG]

    Edit (added at 7:34 AM the next morning): I discovered a few cool things since I posted this.

    I went to bed around midnight but was so anxious to test some software (like iTunes and open office) that I shamelessly played with the eeePC while laying down before going to sleep.

    This notebook is great for using in bed! Since it weighs practically nothing, does not put out a ton of heat, and can be rotated and moved around at will without regard for its solid state drive, it's the perfect bed-side companion. I discovered last night that you can rotate the screen from landscape to portrait using the CTRL-ALT up/down/left/right keys.

    Once you find a document you're interested in (I set my homepage to Google Reader), you can rotate the screen 90 degrees and read it like you're holding a book. The only downside is that the touchpad and arrow keys don't also "rotate", so your "left" becomes "down", and so-on. You can get used to it though. :)

    It also worked great this morning. I rolled over trying to go back to sleep around 6 AM, but had too much on my mind. In the past when this happens I'd get out of bed and start writing, either on paper or on my desktop. This time I reached over and grabbed the eeePC, which despite having nearly 30% battery life remaining at this point, was sufficient to let me squeeze out a few pages of writing before I finally decided to wake up.

    BTW, I tend to ignore the shift-key and apostrophes, at least at night, when typing on the eeePC. They are both way too hard to find at this point and I find that I make too many typos. Thankfully, OpenOffice Writer fixes all my major errors on the fly producing some nice coherent text. :)

    Update (July 3, 2008):
    I recently sold my eeePC because a friend needed one to travel. I was offered about what I paid for it and knew with the 900 out (901 just around the corner), I should make the upgrade. I will buy a 900 or 901 soon though.

    Over the period of January to July, I put hundreds of hours of use on my eeePC. Here's my lasting impressions:
    The 700 model's screen is great but the resolution is simply too low for daily use. The 800-pixel width is a problem on many sites as they are just too wide. Opera's "Fit to Screen" feature was ideal for this situation. The 480-pixel height was insufficient for several reasons (not nearly as frustrating as the width), mainly because it required tons of scrolling or pagedown'ing.

    The keyboard's size becomes rather annoying on long trips. During this period I took a 2-week trip to the bay area and did plenty of forum and blog posting, which continually tested my patience and endurance. The problem is that the keyboard's so tight, your hands can become uncomfortably cramped if used in this fashion. I have pretty small hands (I'm a small guy) but it was just too much after 2-weeks. Even a few days into the trip I was becoming slightly annoyed.

    The best use of this notebook is for a great travel companion in a pinch. I packed it into my bag with all my clothes, shoes, etc. for two week stay. Normally I'd have to take two bags with my 15.4" notebook, but the eeePC made it quite easy to carry everything I needed.

    I would definitely consider the eeePC 700 for traveling, but with the 900s now out in retail, the extra resolution seems more than justified with the extra cost. And of course, the longer-lasting, bigger SSD 901s are just around the corner...

    Summary
    Good:
    - Extremely portable and lightweight
    - Clear screen
    - High-quality construction
    - Affordable
    - Handles most tasks without problems
    - Good battery life

    Bad:
    - Low-resolution screen makes some web sites almost impossible to navigate
    - Slows down severely when watching videos or using many web tabs
    - Tiny keyboard may lead to cramps and discomfort with extended use

    Score: 3.5 out of 5 (70%)
  2. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Oh and I should've mentioned... it's obviously very lightweight, has good battery life so far from what I've seen (probably about 4 hours on a full charge) and is typical of Asus quality -- it's a top notch product for build quality and materials. Also the included software is excellent and the documentation/box/cover are all nice.
  3. mistawiskas

    mistawiskas kik n a and takin names

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    Sweet, I'm looking forward to the formal review.
  4. Torx

    Torx Indigenous Nudist

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    the "bed-factor", is what i like to call it, the defining awesomeness of that little bugger. I cant blame you for wanting to stay up to play with it, lol i know i would too. This is a reason why im interested in this too.

    holy shit that thing is smaller than i thought! next to a 15.4" lappy too!! gah!
    how is the display again? i mean, is it nice or does it feel like a late 90's laptop lcd?

    edit: and you also mention it folding over to being "book like", how do you think software like comic book reader would be like on it?? or any book reader app? flipping pages, etc..
  5. MSP

    MSP Haunting a dead forum...

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    Very cool. I've already pulled up the Asus website, pointed, and said to my daughter "If you need a laptop for school this is what you're getting..." I'd love to have one just to dick around with.

    What size flash drive did you get? Sorry if you said and I missed it.
  6. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    It's very high quality. It's right up there with my Dell 20" widescreens (fpw2005).

    I'm sure it'd be better for this than any other notebook that's larger. It's so skinny that if you hold it in "book mode", it's about as thick as a book. It's pretty close in weight, too. I mean, it's a lot smaller than a typical bible or something. :)

    It's pretty easy to reach random keys for scrolling or flipping pages like this, too. I imagine if you had software made for this purpose (maybe a PDF reader?) it'd be ideal.
  7. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    It's got the 4 GB SSD. After Windows XP "Performance Edition", Open Office, Firefox, Skype, Trillian, iTunes, DIVX support, Flash, and a few other critical applications it's still got 2 GB free -- plenty for now I'd say.
  8. sims

    sims walls of text

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    sweet! I'm strongly considering getting one, if for nothing else so that I can surf the net well I poo!

    I'd like to check one out in person though, I'm still a little concerned with the size of it. also I can pick up a pretty basic Dell for around 500 and I currently don't own a laptop whatsoever
  9. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    I gave the eeePC the cafe test today, complete with my new Tweak3D shirt. :)

    I have never sat at a public establishment and used wifi with a notebook of my own before, so I was interested to see how it'd go.

    I ordered some veggie Panini sandwich thing, and while I waited for 10 minutes or so I was surfing Tweak3D. I made a number of replies to the forums during that time, did some IM chatting, and read through some of my news feeds.

    I had two random people approach me to talk about it. One was a middle-aged woman who carries around a 15.4" everywhere and was saying how she'd love it so much. Everyone is very surprised by the price when I tell them it was only $400. They are also pretty surprised when I show them it has Windows XP running on it.

    An older man came up and started talking tech. His son worked on Xandros, yet he didn't know this thing shipped with it. We talked about random tech stuff and I showed him how RSS feeds worked and how they could be read in Google Reader.

    The battery life "in the real world" seems to be about 3-hours of steady use. Since I had shut it down and carried it around a bit, hibernated a few times, etc., I figure this isn't too bad. I imagine you could stretch out to the mid-3 hour range or even longer if you kept the brightness low or weren't pushing it hard enough to keep the CPU fan active.

    I don't mind the low resolution at all using the mini-icons in Firefox, hiding the status bar, and trying to keep tabs to a minimum. The keyboard is not bad at all for my small hands. I admit I skip some apostrophes and capital letters.

    Here's my desktop background on it:
    [​IMG]

    I'll try and and snag some better photos and maybe desktop screenshots tomorrow.
  10. Chainblade

    Chainblade Junior Member

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    I've got to say. Thats pretty sweet. $400 isn't bad considering what you are getting. That thing is PERFECT for college student. Hell, I'd be interested in something like that. For basic stuff, that's great. Have you tested anything like Photoshop or Dreamweaver? I'd love to work on website stuff on the go with something that small.
  11. 86mcss

    86mcss Devouring your Soul

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    thats pretty nice
  12. jake

    jake Vagabond

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    Here are some steps for installing gOS if you are interested.
  13. Torx

    Torx Indigenous Nudist

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    whats the diff between 2g, 4g, and 4g surf?
    and you have to buy a usb cd drive if you wanna install software or an OS?

    and this guy pretty much stuffed everything you can think of into his eeepc
    Eee PC Internal Upgrades - ivc wiki
  14. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    The 4g surf has no webcam and I think a smaller battery.
    The 2g has a 2GB SSD instead of 4GB.
    The 4g is the one I bought. It has all the bells and whistles and the 5200maH battery.

    You can install an OS with a USB flash drive but it's a bit more work. Your best bet is definitely an external optical drive. I installed Windows in under an hour using one. I borrowed one from someone on Craigslist, but you could rig up your own enclosure for pretty cheap.
  15. Torx

    Torx Indigenous Nudist

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    how about installing an os over network, like a network install?? i never got around to trying this with linux

    the more im reading about this. this can be a perfect in car pc. especially since you said it can be flipped and closed like a book. If this modder guy puts together a tutorial on applying a touchscreen that would REALLY tickly my fancy to buy one. Im already close to getting one (4G now that you mention)

    i could build a eepc cradle stand in the car, use the eepc flipped over and touchscreened for music, gps, and whatever.. then when im done, just take it out and keep it with me.

    also, i read something about it having wimax built in??

    EDIT: how do you think this little bugger can handle cold and heat, winter/summer in a car?

    i could really enjoy internet tethering the eepc with my phone too

    EDIT2: talk to me about the supposed $40 XP that microsoft is offereing for it.. how does this offer/buy/install work?? You pay $40 for a serial or something and use an official xp cd?
  16. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    I guess it'd be the same pretty much as doing this with any notebook. I had an optical drive so I didn't bother researching this.

    Yeah, that's probably going to be a big application for this micro-computers. It would be great for a car, both for its durability and size. I imagine if you were to have a mounting system for it you could easily pull it out and use it as your notebook when you don't want to leave it there...

    It doesn't support WiMax. It has Wifi but that's about the extent of its mobile capabilities currently.

    I'm sure it would handle heat and cold just fine. I wouldn't leave it in the interior on a 110 degree day, but I wouldn't attempt that with any LCD. It'd be fine probably, but I could check the manual to see its recommended operating temperatures for the screen.
  17. Torx

    Torx Indigenous Nudist

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    alrighty.. has anyone managed to get a stripped vista installed on it? out of curiosity, lol

    man, i can imagine, a nice dual boot of a carpc UI, and windows or linux.. that would be ultimate.
    and now that its been about a week, is it worth the money to you, have you been using it like you thought, or is there any quirks youre noticing?

    EDIT: quick google search, someones already done a touchscreen mod
    jkkmobile: Asus Eee Pc with touch screen
  18. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Yeah there's a video of someone doing that, for some reason.

    Yeah but it'd take a lot of space. That's a big limitation, but you could install a bigger memory card.

    I don't use a notebook much, period -- because I'm at home so often and in my room most of the time. I've used it out of the house a few times though and loved it. The biggest weakness is the small keyboard which you can get used to. The touchpad's fine, the resolution isn't a big deal, and it runs great with what I've thrown at it so far.

    I'll wait to write a review until I've taken it on a real trip. I plan to make a California trip here within a few weeks, that'll be the real test. :)
  19. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    That site's cool. He said it costs about $60 to make it into a touch screen. And Asus will be making some next-generation parts with them built in, plus they'll have a bigger / higher resolution screen.
  20. Torx

    Torx Indigenous Nudist

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  21. Mr. Ali

    Mr. Ali Junior Member

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