Asus Eee PC Long-Term Review (Verdict: Honeymoon Officially Over) - Cool New Gadgets and Gizmos Blog
Asus eeepc true reviewsWe've had the Asus Eee PC $399 4GB model in my house since launch. And while you can't argue with the system's unbeatable size/performance/price ratio, users should know that once the honeymoon euphoria of the cheap ultraportable wears off, they're going to deal with some persistent issues that very well may be deal breakers.

You know the 7-inch screen size will be small—but really, it's too small for extended use. Seeing my wife working on the laptop, I watch as the screen gradually moves closer and closer to her face, until she's basically wearing the computer like video goggles. A 10-inch screen model sounds like the sweet spot, and more what you've envisioned as ideal.

The system is, quite simply, not stable to work on. It freezes up frequently when just going through the system's dashboard—even without multitasking in progress. And launching OpenOffice apps can be a hit or miss process, too. Sure, the system is easy enough to reboot (and speedy in this regard as well), but the OS just never feels stable.

My guess is that bugs and performance issues stem from a hardware problem (maybe that stick 512MB isn't enough after all) and an unpolished OS (Asus' custom Linux system could use a few patches for sure). But, most certainly, the 512MB of RAM isn't enough given the inefficiency of the OS's memory management. Asus, where are our updates? We're still running software version 1.0. This must be the least-patched OS in history.

The biggest annoyance, by far, has to be the system's subpar Wi-Fi. If nothing else, the Eee is meant to be a web-surfing machine, the perfect companion to your overpriced espresso drink. But it has a ton of difficulty finding hotspots. Expect to retry detection several times before a list of local networks appears. That might not sound all that tedious, but losing five minutes plus when connecting to the internet—frequently—gets real old real fast in the year 2008.

And these problems even occur with your own saved networks. For some reason the Eee doesn't like to remember security keys. Users eventually become smart enough to paste the code somewhere in their documents, but really, should we have to?

I'm not sure that the Eee is a "don't buy." But more and more every day, I'm wishing that we'd invested the $400 elsewhere (a new smartphone, for instance). Initial reviews accepted the system's shortcomings partially because everyone loved that golden price/performance/size ratio and partially, even tacitly, because many expected bugs to be ironed out in due course.

Maybe more RAM would improve the experience, but at this point I'm fearing the investment. Maybe loading Ubuntu will solve the OS problems—I plan on doing just that this weekend—but most users won't deal with that hassle. At this point our love affair is over and we realize that the Asus Eee PC, as important as it may be for the market, is a glorious "miss" in its current state.

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  1. Reed // March 5, 2008 at 6:58 PM

    As someone who also has had the eee since launch, I have had a slightly different experience. I have only had the default OS crash twice and that was when switching between easy mode and full-desktop mode. I do agree that just three more inches would have a huge effect on eye strain. I have not had the wifi problems but it does take 30 sec to connect under the Linux OS.

    One solution I have recently found is to install Windows XP and everything works better. No more Open Office bad translations or slow to connect wifi. It does take about 35 sec to launch, but thats with wifi auto-finding a hotspot for you.

    I think the Xandros default has a lot of potential but it is not as smooth (unless seriously tweaked) as other Linux distros, XP, or OSX. However, the hardware itself seems to work just fine, although more RAM would be nice.

  2. Web Kohli // March 5, 2008 at 8:37 PM

    Wow! That's great tip for our users. I hope this will help them a lot in troubleshooting.

    Hope to hear from you again...

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