Saturday, January 31, 2009

The new ASUS netbook...

Eee PC 1002HA is a really, really cool piece of hardware. Really.

It comes with 1 GB installed DDR2 SDRAM but I added a 2 GB memory upgrade (~$20 and 15 mins) upon its arrival. It's small - having a footprint less than the area of a sheet of paper, it's thin - about one inch thick, and it's light in weight - just about 2.5 pounds with the battery. The brushed aluminum case is solidly made and is spiffy looking, and it has an ample keyboard (92% full size) though no keypad. The 10-inch screen is bright and clear and renders true colors. The teeny machine uses Win XP Professional operating system and boots quickly and quietly. Additionally, it automatically grabs wi-fi with a zest and is Bluetooth enabled. Here's the full spec sheet if you're interested.

Keep in mind that this is a netbook. While it has an internal 160 GB hard drive it does not have a CD/DVD drive of any kind. So to install software you either 1) download it directly, 2) use an external drive, or 3) mount a remote network drive. This limitation is not a deal breaker for me, but you should think about this before you jump.

But... (there's always a but) ... the right-shift key is located in an awkward place and will take some getting used to I'm afraid. I'd also like to be able to toggle the touchpad on/off using a function key. Instead you need to click on an icon in the tray on the task bar. Again, none of these minor issues is a deal breaker, but it does make one wonder if the people who design these things actually use them?

I have been using it for several weeks now, and so far I have downloaded Open Office (a free alternative to MS Office Suite), Picasa, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Google Earth among other pieces of utility software. I'm easily getting four hours per charge on the highest performance settings.

Netbooks are the fastest growing sector of the PC market right now and deservedly so. Be sure to look at one of these if you're in the market for a new laptop.

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