RM Asus miniBook Plus netbook
Asus Eee PC 904 HD rebranded
Review Oxfordshire-based RM has formed alliances with makers of Small, Cheap Computers to rebrand sub-notebooks for schools. Its latest is the RM Asus miniBook Plus, its moniker for the Eee PC 904HD.
When it comes to IT products, schools look for a range of features, including portability and affordability. Little wonder then that RM soon found demand for the original miniBook - aka the Eee PC 701 - far outstripping supply. But the company has also taken on board comments from schools that were looking for a miniBook with a larger screen and keyboard – and ran Windows.
RM's Asus miniBook Plus: ticks all the boxes, except the one marked "Linux"
Although some schools have moved over to open source software, and others are enthusiastic Mac users, the fact is that the vast majority of educational software is still produced for the PC, and even diehard Apple and Linux schools have the odd PC (or two) to run it. That said, it’s a shame there isn’t a Linux version of the miniBook Plus.
The arrival of the miniBook Plus seems to tick all the boxes for user requirements. It’s got a 900MHz Intel Celeron M processor rather than a 1.6GHz Atom N270, which helps keep costs down without compromising performance to any great extent. And there's 1GB of DDR 2 Ram, plus an 80GB HDD - no solid-state storage here.
A bigger chassis means a bigger keyboard
The miniBook Plus uses the same chassis as the Eee PC 1000 series, which means a near-full size notebook keyboard - although the miniBook Plus retains the 8.9in screen used by the 900 and 901 Eees. Asus has equipped the machine with four power modes: Auto, Power Saving, High Performance and Super Performance. The power saving mode underclocks the CPU speed to 630MHz while the high performance mode runs it at 900MHz. The auto mode toggles between the two. The super performance mode overclocks the CPU a little, to 960MHz.
The reason that schools want Windows machines
...has been made abundantly clear. Button it, penguinistas.
In any case, even if the Linux options do run very marginally better (no better on battery life though) the time saved is negated by the time spent fannying around trying to get stuff to work. Assuming that there even is a way.
It might not be the optimum hardware for the job, and call me crazy if you like, but personally ("because I can") I'd be wanting to run AutoCAD 2000 (& Paint.NET & other progs like Inkscape, OpenOffice, Sketchup, Blender, Apache2Triad, &c) on one of these fellas.
No problem at all on XP - I'd be up and running in no time.
Bang on all you like about how Linux has alternatives, but there are some glaring holes that even Wine or "the forums" can't sort out.
The so-called "Windows Tax" for having XP on these SCCs runs at around £20. To me, that's a fair price. And the best value for money (for me) is represented by running FOSS (+ a few select others) on XP.
Remember that if your prefered Linux configuration is not available then you can buy the Windows machine, decline to accept MS's T's&C's, install Linux, and claim the cost of the MS licence back. But "You might need to do some searching around in the forums on how to do that." - as Lintards are so fond of saying. :-)
Anyways, back to school use: why do they even need "small laptops"? What's wrong with marginally less portable, but cheaper, "standard laptops"? Surely the scrimping on weight can't be that important in the classroom. And a "proper" sized laptop is more condusive to getting work done. Or if, for whatever reason, a 9" screened machine is so important - what's wrong with the cheaper Aspire One (cheap because of a poor battery that need not be an issue within the school environment)? Or an equivalently priced Advent 4211 which has the bonus of a 10" screen in a 10" case rather than this awkward Eee freaky hybrid.
If this absolutely is the machine of choice, why not buy direct from Asus? Are the schools' collective hands forced to spend taxpayer's dosh with the seemingly uncompetetively priced RM for some particular reason?
This whole RM thing seems like a racket from where I'm standing. Or am I missing something?
RM involved - double the price!
so, slap an RM badge on it and you can double the price.
why do schools need laptops? surely a huge clunker of an full-size tower would be better, then you could put a few housebricks into the case to stop the chavs knicking them!
Wrong Assumption - As usual.
ITYWF it comes in a variety of flavours from RM.
Dear Mr. ElReg,
could you please write an in-depth article once, how rebadging adds value? I don't understand the issue. You buy a lot of EEE's or similar, slap on other labels --- so you have to sell it higher: where's the point for me as a buyer? I don't get this whole industry.
A four page review,
and no picture of the beach totty?