Asus Eee PC 4G Review (Page 2 of 7)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - External

The Asus Eee PC is quite an interesting machine. From the external aspects, our Pearl White Eee PC 4G measures 22.5cm by 16.5cm for length and width; and 2.5cm height at its thinnest point and 3.5cm at its thickest point. Weighing 0.92kg with battery, this beautifully designed system doesn't look or feel cheap at all -- it's built solidly, with a clean design in front featuring the Asus logo across the front. The size is also very impressive as an ultraportable, low cost notebook -- the Asus Eee PC seems to impress everyone whenever I take it out!

Since the Asus Eee PC has no moving parts besides the fan, the Eee PC is actually completely silent when turned on and the fan is not activated.

There are no clips that hold the screen to the main body of the Eee PC, which proves to be very convenient -- not to mention there's one less part to break -- I actually managed to break one of those clips on my Dell Inspiron laptop last year. The power button is conveniently located between the battery and the right display hinge. While parts of the power button is accessible when the Eee PC is closed, the Eee PC won't turn on even when the power button is pressed.

Two thick bars are placed on both sides of the 7" LCD screen, which are designed for the speakers -- we'll go over that in just a second. The matte-finish LCD is placed between the bars -- which, after all, is a very small LCD after a few hours of use. You won't believe the feeling after using an Eee PC for a few hours and going to a 15.4" laptop. It's amazing.

The keyboard is QWERTY keyboard, but not all keys are present -- some are changed to an Fn function key, such as the Printscreen key serving as an alternate function of Insert. Many of the F-keys carry an alternate function for toggling wireless, sleep, adjusting screen brightness, as well as multimedia controls. As far as I'm concerned, from the drivers provided on Asus' website for the Eee PC I can't seem to be able to get the multimedia controls working under Windows XP -- the brightness and sleep button works flawlessly though.

The keys are also smaller than standard keyboards, in which I did find a bit odd to use when I first got the Eee PC -- hitting a few keys at a time, or simply typing the wrong thing is quite common. I got used to it after a few days, but I would not use the Eee PC to type any long documents.

For LEDs -- Power, Battery, HDD Activity, and Wireless -- are placed near the bottom right corner of the Eee PC. The way it's placed on the edge allows clear view of the Eee PC whether it's opened or close -- quite convenient in my opinion. The HDD and Power LEDs are green, while the Wireless LED is blue and the Battery LED lights up orange when it's being charged and flashes when battery is low.

Located on the right side of the Asus Eee PC, from the left, is an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and an VGA out connector. The click and lock SD card reader allows flash memory cards to fully flush with the body of the Eee PC so nothing sticks out, which is great since many Eee PC users uses this slot to add extra storage capacity to their unit. The VGA out port is quite convenient, although its placement right next to the Kensington lock slot will not allow the use of both simultaneously.

Placed on the left side of the Asus Eee PC is an Ethernet jack, a capped dummy modem jack (Okay, would you really want an 56k modem nowadays anyway?), a third USB 2.0 port, and two 3.5mm audio jacks for microphone in and headphone out; powered by the Realtek ALC6628 HD codec. At the back right next to the left screen hinge is the DC power input connector. Generally speaking, the Asus Eee PC certainly doesn't lack in terms of expandability of connectors -- in fact, it's quite amazing how much Asus managed to fit on the Asus Eee PC despite its size limitations. Sweet stuff.

A small Synaptics touchpad is located near the center bottom of the Eee PC. The white background color of the touchpad sure fits within the central color scheme of our Pearl White Eee PC; a wide silver bar is placed at the bottom -- clicking near its left represents a left click, while a click near the right will make a right click. Basically, there are two tactile buttons under the single clicking bar. The touchpad supports vertical and horizontal scroll as you run your finger along the right and bottom edge of the touchpad, respectively.

Above the touchpad is the keyboard, like most laptops ever produced. As we've gone over it earlier, the buttons are slightly smaller than standard keyboards, which may impede users with larger fingers -- although I personally managed to get used to the Eee PC after a few days of use (My fingers are average sized though, nothing big, and nothing small). The keyboard generally gives an acceptable tactile feel; traveling distance is reasonable but resisting weight is not evenly distributed throughout the keys. The keys also feel a bit light and cheap sometimes -- often times, I have to sort of realign the keys in case they pop out one day or something. Speaking of which, the Home key you see above is basically the Windows/start key on standard Windows keyboards.

The matte finished LCD display is very nice and bright for most indoor applications, although in direct sunlight you may run into some trouble in terms of readability. Horizontal viewing angle is very good, although the vertical viewing angle will result in some terrible color shifts at more obtuse angles. The screen has a resolution of 800x480, in which I did find a bit too small in terms of screen real estate -- most dialog boxes are cut off along the bottom under Windows XP; I actually had to hit Enter or hit the Tab key to hit the OK button quite a few times. Programs like Windows Live Messenger, well, you could gain a little more room by "hiding" the advertisements (Please don't ask for details haha), and to save your password, you'll have to rotate your screen 90 degrees temporarily. Additionally, some programs won't even run at this resolution -- you can fake a resolution to 800x600 and make the screen scroll, but that's a bit inconvenient. I must note that you can't go back to 800x480 once you've switched to 800x600 under Windows, you'll need to use something like ResSwitch to manually redefine the resolution.

The two thick black bars on both sides of the screen are the speakers -- which are beyond loud enough for quiet locations, but when you have twenty or so people in the room chatting the speakers won't be able to produce enough volume. If you look carefully, the drivers are only 1.5cm in diameter located near the top of the meshes on each side, so it's clear that the rest are for 'decoration' only (Most users don't find it pretty for such a thick bezel around the screen itself). The new Asus Eee PC 900 with a 8.9" LCD fills the entire screen with the speakers moved to the bottom of the unit for much better screen real estate and aesthetics.

I found it quite interesting that the Asus Eee PC actually doesn't allow settings for screen brightness based on power source -- all laptops I used for the last few years allow you to configure screen brightness independently as you're on battery or plugged in.

The Asus Eee PC 4G also features a webcam with a maximum resolution of 640x480 placed above the 7" LCD.

The 4-cell, 5200mAh battery is installed into the back of the Eee PC as it contains part of the center strip next to the hinges of the screen, while the bottom flushes in with the standoffs -- or should I say, the standoffs raises the Eee PC to a certain height in order to accommodate the battery. This design makes the Eee PC tilting forward towards the user, as the rear height is measured to be 1cm greater than the front of the unit. The battery is secured by two clips; with one spring loaded that you'll need to hold down in order to release the battery.

A series of vents are placed in various locations of the bottom of the Asus Eee PC.

Our Asus Eee PC 4G has an easily accessible RAM cover opening -- a warranty seal is placed over one of the screws, in which sparked quite a controversy amongst Eee PC users. Last I heard, Asus later clarified that opening the RAM cover doesn't necessarily void the warranty, which is good news to Eee PC users looking to upgrade from their 512MB RAM out of the box.

A condensed microphone is placed near the edge of the front center; bottom of the Asus Eee PC. The Asus Eee PC 4G is quite sweet for internet and communication -- considering that it has both a webcam and a built in microphone -- placed in an incredibly small package.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Specifications, Bundle
2. A Closer Look - External
3. A Closer Look - Internal
4. A Closer Look - Software
5. Benchmarks: EVEREST 4.50, HD Tach
6. Onboard Sound (RMAA 6.06) Analyzation
7. Battery Life and Conclusion