Hitting the sweet spot [Asus EeePC week]

Reading through feedback on the Asus EeePC forums it’s clear that most people bought the device because it hits a sweet spot in the intersection between price, portability and power. Individuals debate which of those three parameters makes it what it is but the consensus is towards a convergence of all three. As I’ve got this unit on a loan I’m not exactly price sensitive but portability is a key benefit, especially when it doesn’t compromise on power.

That’s because I’m a Digital Bedouin – wherever I lay my laptop that’s my office [with apologies to Marvin Gaye]. I travel daily between two home-based offices and regularly meet clients, colleagues and co-workers in cafes and hotels. For that reason every ounce of weight and every inch of footprint less is important. Comparing the EeePC to my Dell Inspiron 510m in the photos below it’s clear that the former will go many places the latter won’t, like the glove compartment in my car (and even the side-pocket on the door), desk drawers, large coat pockets (yes, I do have a coat with pockets big enough), handbags (my sister confirms) and the smaller pocket in a rucksack (hand luggage).

Small footprint of Asus EeePC

My Inspiron 510m is a mid-size laptop but still has a footprint 2.5 times bigger than the EeePC.

Wireless mouse & keyboard with Asus EeePC

Does the small keyboard of the EeePC ‘cramp my style’? Not much according to TypingTest.com. My results on the large SilverCrest wireless keyboard were –

Net Speed:      59 WPM
(words/minute)
Accuracy:     93%
Gross Speed:     63 WPM
(words/minute)

On the inbuilt keyboard I achieved –

Net Speed:      51 WPM
(words/minute)
Accuracy:     92%
Gross Speed:     55 WPM
(words/minute)

These were two genuine tests where I concentrated more on accuracy than speed. Being a touch typist helps but the built-in keyboard requires much more discipline than I’m used to. Stiffening the wrists to avoid finger drift is quite important!

Hand sized EeePC

EeePC setup

The extra degree of portability the EeePC has over the Inspiron makes a huge difference in terms of usage scenarios. My laptop has very rarely been used on the lap, it’s more a portable desktop replacement. But already with the Asus I’ve found myself watching YouTube videos on the couch, reading Google News at the breakfast table, playing Tetris in bed and listening to podcasts at the kitchen counter. The unit is so small, light and bump resistant it really is a go anywhere device. As one happy-camper on the EeePC User Forum says"I find that the more portable the computer is the more I take it with me and the more use it gets."

Of course it should be remembered that the EeePC and future Netbooks aren’t seen by Intel as laptop replacements, at least not for customers in developed countries. Rather they are intended as a second or third computer. Intel’s Navin Shenoy explains –

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5 Responses to “Hitting the sweet spot [Asus EeePC week]”

  1. keith bohanna Says:

    looking forward to your cloud week commentary James 🙂
    keith

  2. Jason Roe Says:

    my XPS m1330 hits the spot for me. Its not a beast to carry around and has 4 hour bat life. 2.40 ghz, 2gb ram and a 160hd ..
    You cant beat the Eee on price! but the screen and specs would drive me insane!

  3. Heidi Jermyn Says:

    Thank you for posting some pics of the EeePC. I’ve been looking for something like this too – something that fits into my handbag. But I agree with Navin there that I wouldn’t use it to replace my (enormous) desktop rather as a much more useful PDA that I can take anywhere and actually work on.

  4. mj Says:

    I actually found the eee PC to be, at the end of it all, unusable.
    The keyboard too cramped, the trackpad simply shit, the software buggy, the sleep function causing a hang every time, the screen too limited, the plastic cheap and tacky, the battery life woeful and due to the thickness and the everpresent need for the power adapter, just not portable enough.
    These days I do my serious work on my MacBook Pro (17″) and my email/browsing/twitter etc on my iPhone (though I used an iPod touch before that, and a Nokia N800 before that!)
    I guess it takes all sorts. It’s too much of a step down from a Mac though my experiences with eee/Linux have been pretty much on a par with my experience of this awful Windows 2000 laptop I was handed to ‘help’ with support tasks.
    Now I have a couple of weeks hands-on experience with a MacBook Air and I’m now looking that way. My MBPro is REALLY heavy…

  5. used computers Says:

    I find that the more portable the computer is the more I take it with me and the more use it gets.

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