As shipped, this is a full computer! It boots in less than a minute and it has a full suite of Open Office 2.0 software (word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation manager) along with Adobe Acrobat 7.0, a notepad, dictionary, Thunderbird email client, Firefox internet browser, Skype internet telephone software, video manager, photo manager, media player, sound recorder, several games, a personal information manager, screen capture program, and calculator. All of these programs are contained within a very nice graphical user interface (GUI) that will look very familiar to the MAC or Windows user. The keyboard is a QWERTY version with a touchpad, albeit a bit on the small side, but it is quite satisfactory for my size hands. The screen, while also small, is quite viewable. There's also a video output port so one could plug in a monitor and using a USB port for a keyboard which results in a pretty fair desktop unit. But that's not my intended use.
As a test, I began using the unit without reading the small user manual. It was all very intuitive. The wireless and Ethernet have worked well for me. A friend brought over his portable hard drive filled with pictures which he created in a Windows environment and we plugged it into a USB port. It ran flawlessly to show his slide shows and pictures. The battery life is around 2.5 hours and the charger is about the size of cell phone charger and charges at 9.5 volts which means that I can easily charge it off of my motorcycle using a 12 volt to 9.5 volt charger which I found online. I tested my wireless mouse and it plugged in and functioned perfectly from first connection without adding any new drivers. The Open Office software saves in formats that are compatible with my desktop Microsoft Office suite and I've opened and saved files that I've created previously in Windows without a problem.
Recently I was doing a presentation at a rider education event and I forgot my power cord for my big laptop. Fortunately I had saved my presentations on a thumb drive. So I plugged in the eee PC, hooked up the PowerPoint slide control device to a USB port, and the projector to the video out port. It worked like a charm. It really saved the day.
I'm still experimenting with downloading tracks from my GARMIN and will report on that later. I've found several LINUX GPS programs and they definitely show promise for capturing tracks from my GARMIN 2610. I need to learn a bit more about LINUX.
How much was all of this computing power? As purchased online from http://www.newegg.com it was $350. It was similarly priced at www.amazon.com and www.costco.com . It gets stares and questions everywhere I use it. It's a very good bargain and it's no wonder that Asus has sold 350,000 in the first quarter of sales. Recently Asus announced that there's a new model coming out that will have XP as an option for a nominal upcharge. For those not willing to use LINUX, this presents an attractive option. In my opinion, they've really hit the mark with this little gem. It hit the mark so well that my wife desired one for her travels. So we now have His and Hers eee PCs! She recently spent a week in New York and loved having the small size and and the WIFI connectivity to check email and surf the net. It traveled with her along with a number of other items in a small backpack during the day.
Tim Bowman/Spring 08
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