In 2007 Asus released the first version of the Asus EEE PC. This very cool device is basically a full featured Laptop (less the hard drive space of a full blown laptop) but is contained in a rather awesome Palmtop form factor. As best we could determine, there are three models available with slightly different hardware configurations. I’d venture to say that the most outstanding feature of this new system is that it contains a choice of three different sized fully solid state drives currently in the 2, 4 and 8GB sizes.
All other hardware features such as the 7 inch wide TFT screen (max resolution 800 x 480 WVGA) with Intel Graphics Media Accelerator, Intel Mobile Chipset, CPU Intel M clone running at 0.9 GHz, ram at 512 MB DDR 2 are common across the different models. Every model also contains Hi-Def Audio Codec, internal microphone, internal stereo speakers, audio out, audio in, Wireless 802.11 B/G network, 10/100 NIC via RJ45, three USB 2.0 ports, memory card reader MMC/SD(SDHC), one external VGA port (15 pin DSUB), 4 cell 4000 MAH battery @ 2.8 hours battery life. Weight is about 2.0 LBS with battery installed and the overall dimensions are (W/D/H 8.86 x 6.30 x 0.79).
Differences In Models
The only real difference between the models (other than the drive size) is that the more expensive Galaxy model contains the 8GB drive, the on-board camera and is shipped with a carrying case. The less expensive SURF model which we evaluated does not contain the camera and is not shipped with the carrying case but does contain the 4GB solid state drive. Other options are simply a choice of colors. One other point about the case is that in our opinion, the case which ships with the unit does not “appear” to be of good quality. So if you plan to take the Palmtop on the road, another choice of cases to consider might be the snazzy looking PDair Leather Case.
The Leap Of Faith – XANDROS To XP(SP2)
Out of the box these systems come with a variant of Linux (XANDROS) installed. This variant of Linux is highly customized to work flawlessly with the EEE PC. There were no issues testing any of the features offered by the customized XANDROS O/S in conjunction with the on-board hardware or system operation. On a more general level, no hardware or heat buildup problems were detected.
After running the system heavily for about a week, the attempt was made to replace XANDROS with Windows XP. You will need XP with SP2 “embedded” and a portable USB CD/DVD reader (perhaps a network install is also possible) to load the Asus (DVD) supplied XP drivers. The manual described the XP installation perfectly in a step by step, descriptive fashion.
The end result was a successful upgrade (if you want to call it that) to XP and the steps in the manual were accurate and fully successful. The manual goes on to explain how to remove some of the excess baggage which XP brings along. (Lord knows there’s plenty of that!) Obviously these post-install steps return some of that 4GB for other applications and data. Overall the manual is well written and was easy to use as a reference tool. XP operates just like an omni-directional antenna (it radiates poorly in all directions) exactly as one would expect on any system. As you may surmise, as a Unix engineer, I am no Windows advocate. 🙂
In summary, I would highly recommend this device for basic mobile operation and specialized applications on a personal or business level.
If anyone has or knows where to find comparative specs on the relationship between solid state drives / conventional drives and the effect on portable battery drain, I’d like to hear from you.