Unboxing the Asus Eee PC and First Impressions

Supporting companies that offer Linux support or Linux-based products is extremely important for the alternative operating system to succeed in the retail arena. This alone is the most compelling reason why I decided to buy an Asus Eee PC.

This isn’t a new phenomenon for myself, buying Linux supported video games solely for the reason that they support Linux has become my new hobby.

Ever since the diminutive laptop was announced at Computex in Taipei, June 2007, the idea of having a small laptop for school, coffee shops and elsewhere has been lingering in my mind for quite some time, and finally I’ve found the perfect device.

I received the ASUS Eee PC 4G in Galaxy Black earlier today from Newegg, and since then I’ve shown it to several people – their initial impressions were overwhelmingly positive:

What is this? Woooooooow! *whistles*”
“Oh, my god this is sweet!”
“This is so cool, I wish I had this when I was in Iraq!”
“Carrying this laptop around would be a great way to pickup women.”

I’m sure it will continue to be a conversation piece anywhere I take it, and will give me an excellent way to introduce Linux to people who would probably not hear about it otherwise. To someone that sells Linux, this laptop turns a cold-call into a good lead.

My first impressions:

The keyboard is cramped, but certainly usable to touch type with – this is a result of the form factor. I had similar concerns when I first received a cellphone with a qwerty keyboard, it should be easy to acclimate. The webcam is no iSight, but it’s definitely good enough for uploading to YouTube. The graphics card is well equipped to handle 3D for 800×480 resolution.

The two things that put me off have their remedies. The lack of a DVD-ROM drive can be offset by a USB version, or USB flash drive, or even the MMC/SD slot. Bluetooth is missing, and has two solutions – “lug” around a USB bluetooth adapter, or add one internally.

Also, the Xandros Linux-based operating system utilizes a panel system for navigation. It is a good compromise for the screen size, but I’m probably going to want to put something a step up from the basic interface that it comes with by default. No optical drive will complicate a normal installation, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out.

As far as support goes, the unofficial EEEuser website seems like a great community built around the device. The forums move at a brisk pace, with plenty of answers for those who can utilize the search function. People who modify their EEE PC also tend to hang out there, which is what I intend to do. I’m going to put the EeePC where nobody has put one before (as far as I know), but that idea will stay under wraps for a little longer. :)

Let’s take a look at the unboxing:

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

First-Time Bootup and Initial Configuration:

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

ASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics UnboxingASUS Eee PC 4G – Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7? Wide VGA 512MB 4GB Integrated Graphics Unboxing

This is a fantastic laptop, and I’ve got really big plans for using it in a somewhat unconventional manner. It even fits inside my full-sized laptop bags’ accessory pocket. I’ll probably write a little bit more about it later on, but this is all for now. Oh…. and by the way, I made up the last quote.

  • http://www.cad.cx Colin Dean

    Pretty cool. Have you typed on it at length? Can you manage to type for ~30-45 minutes straight on it? How’s the battery life?

  • http://www.twindx.com/ Irregular Shed

    You get used to the keyboard incredibly quickly – I find it easier to type on that my fullsize Toshiba’s keyboard now. (I’m a programmer and can touch-type, so I need a keyboard I’m happy with – and I’m happy with it.)

    On a train from Birmingham to Cardiff last week (in the UK – not Alabama to California) I was on it for two hours straight, typing up a report in OOo. No problem. The battery was fully charged when I left, and was reporting 45% charge just before I powered down. (I’d turned off the wi-fi because the train I was on didn’t have any internet access.)

    In short – the Eee is pretty near perfect for an ultra-portable.

  • http://www.fsckin.com/ Wayne

    Irregular Shed: Do you have the 4G? That’s pretty darn spectacular battery life. I’m happy to hear that you didn’t have a problem learning the keyboard.

  • http://www.twindx.com/ Irregular Shed

    Yep, it’s a 4G. I managed to find one for sale in a shop – Toys R Us, of all places! It’s been taken everywhere over the past six weeks.

    The battery life is very dependent on your activities. Turning off the wireless when you don’t need it is a good idea, and I had the screen brightness and volume very low because I was working on it into the evening. OOo is also far less taxing than compiling software =)

    My hardware annoyances are the trackpad and the right Shift key. The sensitivity on the trackpad is impossible to get just right and the big silver button should be delimited to a proper left and right side (something Asus have improved on the 900 series). And having the ‘up’ cursor in between Shift and the main body of the keyboard can catch you out mid-flow. The rest of the hardware is perfect as far as I’m concerned.

    I can make do with the Xandros OS offering for now but, should the fastinit feature make its way into eeeXubuntu (or something similar – maybe Ubuntu Mobile) I’ll be taking some time out to swap to a derivative of my distro of choice.

    And my first tip to anyone getting one is to bookmark eeeuser.com – the forums and wiki are truly splendid, and the enthusiasm of some of the users is catching!

  • http://roborobert.com Jim

    can’t wait to get the new EeePC with 9″ Screen

  • http://www.pcmall.com Kevin R

    Informative as usual Wayne. Can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up with it!

  • http://farbeyondtheedgeofreason.blogspot.com Matthew

    I bought a 2GB Eee PC Surf a couple of weeks ago and I love it to bits! It’s an incredible machine. I got it for £230 from Jarrolds (an independent department store in Norwich, England). It does lack the webcam and bigger memory, as well as not having quite so many apps installed, but I got a free 4GB SD card with it so and I wasn’t bothered about a webcam so I’m happy with it as it is.
    The only other issue about the Surf is that it uses a different software repository to that used by the 4GB model, and this doesn’t have ksmserver or kicker available to install,so to get advanced mode working you have to edit your /etc/apt/sources.list (for anyone who’s got one and wants to use advanced mode, just change every reference to 700 to 701 then save and exit, then sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get install ksmserver kicker, then go back and change the repositories back).

    I’m currently happy with the default OS, but I may change it at some time in the future – I know someone who runs Kubuntu on his fine, I was thinking maybe EeeXubuntu or gOS for mine, or possibly OpenGEU.

    It’s just the most amazingly useful machine – I can take it virtually anywhere with me, use it in cafes, bars or the park. And battery life is pretty good – I’ve gotten a couple of hours out of it with wireless on.

  • http://haxit.sytes.net HaXiT

    I think I might purchase this.
    This article just confirmed my thoughts on it ;)
    Thanks again Wayne,
    HaXiT

  • Ba-Na-Na

    I have the same computer, and I
    was wondering how the hell do you
    download programs on it? I’ve
    read so many manuals and instruc-
    tions on the web, and I don’t get
    it, how to compile programs in the
    “tar.gz” format or anything.
    Is there a step-by-step instruction
    things for how to download?

    Thankss

  • rick

    There’s a bluetooth usb adaptor out there not much larger than the usb plug itself (nearly flush once plugged in) for about $24US, which is perfectly suited for the eee. This will be useful for mouse, headphones, and earjack/mike for skype, and doesn’t require modding the eee.

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/01/21/tiny_bluetooth_adaptor/

    I’ve also seen an LG usb powered dvd burner not much bigger than a cd/dvd case for about $110US which will go well with the galaxy black eee.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136136

  • rick

    Ba-Na-Na, try here: http://forum.eeeuser.com/ for info. i tried installing abiword and songbird with no luck, although i’ve read some people have successfully gotten abiword to install and work. installing software (other than what’s already on there) on the default eee Xandros has mixed results at the best of times. if that’s your goal, i.e. adding more software, you might want to invest some time in checking out putting Ubuntu on the eee. Look up ubuntu on the same forum.

    there’s a project afoot to install osx (hackintosh) on the eee; someone out there is making a little project of it and is almost there. personally i doubt i’ll try, but it’s intesesting.

    http://uneasysilence.com/archive/2007/11/12654/

  • Dillon Lyall

    ASUS stands out as the company that initiated this whole entire netbook fad where the idea is to have compact laptops under 12 in . that are equipped with fundamental specifications but nonetheless capable of doing basic tasks including browsing on the web, transmitting and receiving e-mail, as well as operating office applications. They cost much less as compared to other midrange laptops sized TWO inches larger, are lightweght and also have above average battery life as a result of being more basic. Multitasking is oftentimes pretty restricted as a result of all round sluggishness, especially if they may be using later versions of Windows. Faster hardware was utilized in the Asus 1201N but the effect was that the life of the battery was reduced. The Asus EEE PC 1215N is the successor hoping to combine overall performance in addition to value together with better portability.*

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  • Shizue Tott

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