Asus EEE PC 900 review from the trenches

I like being connected at a conference, for instance to watch the twitter flow during presentations. I wanted something in between my Dell XPS 1530 laptop and Nokia N95 mobile phone, so I was thinking about a socalled netbook. After some research, I bought an Asus Eee PC 900. This netbook that practically defined this category is a 9 inch Linux based laptop with a screen at 1024 x 600. It has a 20 GB SSD disk and 1 GB memory. I took it to the test at Future of Webapps conference in London a couple of weeks ago. There have been some reviews around, but I wanted to share with you my personal experience.

First my requirements for a netbook:

  1. dispensable: so cheap and not containing any vital information (which rules out bringing my main laptop)
  2. light: easy to carry around
  3. proper keyboard: typing long messages on a N95 phone becomes difficult after some time..
  4. Standard browser installed that can show web sites in a normal way.
  5. Good Wifi
  6. Good battery life

So how does the EEE hold up in practice?:

  1. Dispensable: at 300 euro’s yes I say it is dispensable, and as it is not my main laptop I do not store important data on it. That’s a yes
  2. Light: less than a kilo, so yes. Of course it can’t fit in a pocket, but that should speak for itself
  3. Proper keyboard: party. Yes it has to fit a 9 inch netbook, so of course it is smaller than a normal keyboard. I am used to typing blind with 10 fingers, well I can’t on this machine. Although I have pretty small fingers that is not possible, so I have to type with 4 fingers, and look a lot at the keyboard. That’s a yes/no
  4. Standard browser: yes. It has Firefox 3 installed with Flash.
  5. Good wifi: well, I can’t connect it to Airport networks. And although everybody was suffering from less-than-perfect wifi at the Excel convention center, my machine seems to be outperformed by others. That’s a yes/no
  6. Good battery life: at 3 hours it’s not bad, but also not excellent. The adapter is not heavy and the cord is long enough though.

Overall rating: a 7 out of 10. It’s dirt cheap, light and runs Firefox in a pretty normal resolution. Typing you have to get used to though, and the wifi could be better. Performance is ok, although Youtube videos are not as smooth on a real machine. Normal browsing performance is perfect. It has more than enough input/output like USB and VGA, for me the webcam wasn’t necessary.