I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to test a number of ultra portable machines recently, including MacBook Air, Fujitsu P8010, Toshiba R500, HTC Shift and Fujitsu U1010. Since all these machines have gone back, I’ve realised how nice it was to carry a compact and light laptop, as opposed to my MacBook Pro.
Looking around, I came across the good old 7” Eee PC for the unbelievable price of AU$341, so with not much to lose I picked one up this weekend. This is the first time I’ve actually used one of these things, and I have to say for the price it is pretty impressive. The build quality is good, the screen is nice and bright (although low res), and I can touch type rather well on the keyboard.
I wasn’t really interested in running Linux on it, so I immediately loaded up Windows XP, which was smooth and painless. The included driver CD installs all the drivers automatically which is handy, no fussing around installing each separately. I had a 1GB stick of RAM lying around from when I upgraded my MacBook Pro to 3GB so I swapped out the original 512MB stick.
As it stands now, it is quite nippy, and handles multitasking very well. I loaded up Office 2003 and it too works flawlessly.
Since I bought the 4GB model I picked up an SD card to augment the internal storage, which is now pretty cramped with the XP install (I need to tweak that a bit more). I was stunned to find an A-DATA 16GB SDHC card for only AU$75, bringing the total cost of purchase for machine and card to AU$416, not bad considering most stores here sell the Eee for over $450 without any extra storage!
I have my USB HSDPA modem setup ready to test this machine out this week on the train, at the coffee shop and at uni, I’m hoping that it will satisfy my needs until I have the dollars to get something with a better screen. I’ve loaded a hack that bumps the screen res up to 1000×600, similar to how the HTC Shift faked it’s resolution, which makes the 7” screen a bit more passable.
Wish me luck!