RM Asus miniBook Plus netbook
Asus Eee PC 904 HD rebranded
The miniBook Plus is available in both white and black. We had the latter, which, with a gloss black finish, looks decidedly sleek and stylish. One drawback is that it wouldn’t take long for students to leave their grubby fingerprints all over the glossy surfaces, although they will wipe off easily enough.
The miniBook Plus also has Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), a large trackpad, 1.3-megapixel webcam, built-in array microphone (for improved sound when video conferencing), stereo speakers and two user-definable shortcut keys, which let you fire up assigned applications at the touch of a button. On the right side are an SD/MMC card slot, two USB 2.0 ports and a VGA connector.
Connectivity includes 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, SDHC and USB
On the left side are a Kensington lock port (we suspect that the miniBook Plus will be seen as a highly half-inchable item), Ethernet (RJ-45) port, microphone jack and headphone socket. The miniBook Plus uses a 6600mAh battery pack rather than the 4400mAh version that shipped with the 900, which should mean good running times. If you believe the Asus website, the battery offers up to 5.4 hours' runtime – but we’ll come back to this claim later. The penalty paid for a larger battery (and a larger chassis) is a heavier computer, and the miniBook Plus tips the scales at around 1.4kg. It’s not exactly the Kate Moss of computers, but it’s still highly portable.
The Plus comes bundled with Microsoft Works, Star Office 8, Intervideo’s WinDVD and Skype - the latter is handy for videoconferencing, an increasingly popular activity within schools. There’s also the webcam utility Ecam, which includes a facility for capturing still video images (as a 4MB bitmap file at 1280 x 1024 resolution) and video clips (with a 384Kb/s data rate and 640 x 480 resolution). Supplied accessories comprise of a system recovery DVD and a carry case.
At around 1.4kg, it’s not exactly featherweight, but still highly portable
The miniBook Plus is aimed at students and teachers of all ages, so how does it handle? Boot-up time is around 35 seconds, but what did you expect from a computer running Windows? First impressions of the 1024 x 600 resolution screen are good – it looks clear, bright and sharp, although being housed in a lid originally designed for a 10in screen does make it look a tad smaller than it really is.