Asus’s Eee PC kick-started the netbook craze and remains the brand most associated with the category. Early iterations were praised for their low-cost Linux-based architecture, but lately Asus has ratcheted up its product line to compete with higher-end netbooks, like the HP Mini-Note 2133 (http://tinyurl.com/5lu4un). The 901 runs on Intel’s Atom architecture at 1.6GHz and has 1GB of DDR2 RAM clocked at 533MHz.
Both versions of the 901 come with two SSD drives, but the Linux SKU ships with 20GB of total hard disk space, while the Windows model has just 12GB. Presumably Asus wants to save the folks springing for Windows some money, but we have a better way: Use real hard drives. SSDs read fast, but the cost per gigabyte is high, and their write speeds leave much to be desired.
Indeed, the 901 took more than twice as long to complete our Photoshop benchmark as the other two netbooks here. On the other hand, the 901’s standard six-cell battery far outstripped the competition’s three-cells, eking out more than five and a half hours in our video-rundown test—the other two netbooks lasted barely two hours.
The 901 is extremely well built, and its thick barrel hinge makes the screen sturdy. Its trackpad is multi-touch and quite comfortable, though we found its sensitivity too high. The keyboard, however, is too small and cramped—our normally nimble fingers kept missing the mark.
The Eee PC hits a lot of our buttons—we love its battery life and sturdy construction. But we hate its miniscule storage capacity, cramped keyboard, and frighteningly slow benchmark results. You won’t want to run Photoshop on any of these netbooks, but the fact that the 901 took twice as long with this benchmark as two less-expensive models is worrying.