The Eee PC cuts the mustard at CES
Leaving Las Vegas
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) isn't quite over yet, but I'm heading home and it's time for a few post-expo comments on the computer that's been keeping me company here: Asus' Eee PC.
Having reviewed the elfin laptop last year, I bought myself a black 4GB model just before Christmas, impressed by its sheer portability and peformance for the kind of tasks I'd expect to put it to.
One such: writing on the move, and its baptism of fire would be a trip to the world's biggest consumer electronics industry event.
In almost all respects it's performed admirably. I still have a few problems mis-hitting keys when typing quickly, but that's more about not hitting them hard enough to register. And the battery life's no better than that of the 12in PowerBook I usually take to these events. In any case, the Eee's AC adaptor is light and easy to keep in a backpack, so I was never left without juice.
The Apple machine - and any other laptop, for that matter - has one advantage over the Eee PC for the weary tech journalist: an optical drive.
At last year's CES, hacks were deluged with USB Flash drives containing press releases, whitepapers, photos and the like. Not so this year - we were back to the (presumably cheaper) CD-R.
The problem was solved by asking fellow hacks to copy disc contents to a 4GB SDHC card I'd brought. But I'll need a slim USB CD/DVD reader next time.
Not that this is a problem likely to bug the average Eee PC user.
Asus' Eee PC: the weary hack's friend
But for taking notes during presentations, writing up stories, preparing pictures - I'd installed Windows XP so I could run Photoshop - and uploading it all to the Register Hardware servers, the Eee was almost perfect.
The screen didn't prove too small. With a 4GB SanDisk Extree III card installed permanently, I had plenty of room for data storage. The on-board Wi-Fi could pick up signals where a colleague's MacBook couldn't.
But most of all it beat lugging around a weighty 15in notebook and all the paraphernalia that go with it. Hurrah, no backache this time.
My next show's probably going to be 3GSM, or Mobile World Congress as it's now called. There's no question, I'm taking the Eee along too.
You can install an addon, cleverly named Gimpshop, that makes the interface look like photoshop. If you play about with it for at most an hour you should know where most things are.
I haven't considered my eee-pc for sorting or checking photos yet, because the sport season hasn't started, but would it be able to handle a Photoshop-like thing?
I have Photoshop - and Photo Mechanic for Mac, but obviously this isn't much use on the Asus.
Isn't Gimp a nightmare for non techy types?
XP just for Photoshop?
So you're not commenting on the Eee with its native Linux then, because you've put XP on it instead?
Wouldn't it have been easier to put Gimp on than XP? I'm sure it wouldn't take you very long to learn how to do in Gimp the basic photo manipulation operations you presumably need to do as a journalist.
Doubts dealt with
I picked up my 4gb Black EEE PC while in the States this Christmas, and it's come and responded well to all my initial quibbles.
You're not going to use this thing to play Battlefield, or manipulate those 100's of large spreadsheets for work, but for browsing, note taking, email sending and photo manipulation before firing the whole lot off to a web server somewhere, it does the job brilliantly.
Previously I've been using my Vaio while at home on the sofa, and I couldn't see around the screen, let alone move away from a mains connection for long enough to read the instructions to cook a curry. The EEE doesn't block my TV viewing, and will sit on the kitchen counter well into the washing up (I don't think it's water proof however!)
It's interesting to hear that companies are using them at expos and events now. We do video streaming and score board controls for sports events, and my boss has already been eying up the EEE to run the myriad of software that we use. We're currently lumping shuttle-esk PC's and laptops around to run everything, and we're all getting back strain from carrying them around airports. If two or even three of these could do the same as a single mid-range laptop, then I can see it being a much more viable and flexible alternative to more conventional laptops.
I think as time goes by, all those tech-geeks will be showing these around the offices / work places and coding sheds of the world long enough for people to realize a practical use for the cheap, lo-cost and very portable hardware.
Have to agree.
I went to an educational ICT show in London yesterday and took my Eee Pc.
I have to agree that the size made it very easy to carry round, the quick start up time made it easier than keep hibinating it and wasting battery, and I picked up the countless wi-fi signals being used.
I did expect a few companies to be trying to sell the idea of Eee Pc's to schools, but what I did not expect was the amount of Eee Pc's being used on stands to control equipment or to demonstrate cameras, printers and other devices.
The way in which companies are jumping on this little gem only goes to prove that ASUS are already on to a winner and do not really need to be looking at changing to much. I have hacked mine slightly so that after starting in to simple mode I can switch it to full desktop mode. It would be nice to see this option as standard. Your normal average person has never seen Linux running and this would give them the chance a could be a very big boost to Linux.