EeePC First Impressions

I got my hands on an Asus EeePC last night – the little subnotebook computer that has some geeks salivating. It’s smaller than a trade paperback (although it’s pretty heavy) so I’ll be having a closer look at it to see if it hits the mark as that ideal “multi-purpose computing device that makes a good ebook reader.”First impressions were positive – the whole family thought it was really cute – and the five year old wanted one for himself right away. But after spending a couple of hours playing, my instinct is that it’s not the one. It’s cheap (around $500 here in Oz) and it feels like it – the trackpad and mouse button don’t scream ‘quality’ and the seven-inch screen means you have to scroll around to see entire web pages. I kept wanting to touch and slide the screen like on my iphone, but couldn’t :-)That said, it browsed the web happily (Playhouse Disney flash animations worked fine!) and its Linux OS was stable, if not the snappiest thing in the world. What I missed was attention to detail – the typography in the pdf reader was not hugely impressive, and after an hour or so of playing, the thing just felt ‘clunky’. And by then the battery was flat and I had to stop and recharge. (To be fair, it wasndidn’t have a full charge when I started.)I kept comparing it to my seven year old Psion Series 7,  which (still) goes all day on a charge, and has a bigger screen (albeit not as bright and with a lower resolution); and my iphone – which is infinitely more usable and made much better use of its much smaller screen (see the Edward Tufte video here.)But that’s first impressions. I’ll spend some time with it and get back to you. If I can tear it away from the kids 🙂 

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