The latest in Asus’s ever-expanding line of Eee netbooks is a welcome addition to the fold, and much more to our liking than the 901 model we reviewed in December.
Eschewing the previous model’s unremarkable white plastic exterior for a brushed aluminum shell is a smart move on Asus’s part. This changed aesthetic adds legitimacy to the product: The 901’s finish made the device feel disposable, while the 1002HA feels like a real computer.
More importantly, the 1002HA Asus sent us forgoes the pair of low-performance, ultra-low-capacity solid-state drives that bumped up the Eee 901’s price while wreaking havoc with its Photoshop performance (owing to the poor write speeds of cheap MLC SSDs). Instead of SSDs, the 1002HA sports a much more generous 5400rpm 160GB standard hard drive. And it really pays off: The 1002HA breezed through out Photoshop benchmark in just 690 seconds—40 seconds faster than the Acer Aspire One, our prev-ious champion, and less than half the 1,530 seconds the Eee 901 took to accomplish the same task.
As ultraportable PCs become more powerful and increasingly feature-rich, it might soon be difficult to discern where netbooks stop and standard notebooks begin. Such is nearly the case with Asus' new Eee 1004DN, the first Eee ever to integrate a Super-Multi optical disc drive.
The addition of a CD/DVD burner addresses a common complaint among netbook and potential netbook owners, particularly those who might want to use one as their primary PC (Protip: Don't do it). Other specs on the 1004DN are decidedly more standard-fare and include a 10-inch LED-backlit 1024 x 600 display, Intel's Atom N280 processor (1.66GHz, 512k L2 cache, 667MHz frontside bus), up to 2GB DDR2 memory, Intel GMA 4500M graphis, up to 120GB hard drive, 1.3MP webcam, and 6-cell battery.
Asus, the new champion of the report, didn’t only win the top spot, but they bulldozed Apple with a score of 972 to 324. Also leapfrogging Apple was Lenovo, who took home a score of 348.
Admittedly, Apple does have a larger US market share than Asus (1.6 percent compared to 6.8 percent), but given that Asus was only responsible for 0.2 percent of the service calls placed to RESCUECOM, they do deserve a big pat on the back.
In an interview with TechRadar, Asus CEO Jerry Shen said his company plans to commercially launch its current fold/unfold notebook concept around September or October of this year, with mass production to begin in the second half of 2009.
"In 2007 when Apple launched the MacBook Air, it created a lot of media attention," Shen said during the interview. "So this year Asus plans to launch the Fold/Unfold, not following with tradition, to create a similar momentum."
Collaboratively developed by groups of designers from France, Italy, and Korea, the folding notebook concept folds in a way that adjusts the keyboard when the screen is lifted, taking it from a resting flat position to a raised, angled position. In addition to offering space saving ergonomics, the raised keyboard could potentially lead to better airflow for the internal components.
Shen made mention of Apple's MacBook Air more than once during the interview, and it's clear the folding notebook will look to compete with it as a more affordable and economical PC version.
According to Shen, the new notebook will be priced somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500.
It’s expected that the ARM processor will take over market dominance over Intel’s Atom in 2012.
Ever since Asus introduced the first Eee PCs in 2007, netbooks have become a mainstay of the mobile market and currently, Intel’s Atom is a driving force of virtually the entire industry. However, this is mostly due to there being little to no competition in this area.
Dr. Robert Castellano, an analyst with The Information Network, believes that ARM’s Cortex-A9 multicore processor will be the Atom’s primary challenger. He trusts that this will be thanks to a Linux-based netbook that could sell at a price that an Intel/Windows netbook wouldn’t match.
There are still others that disagree, such as IDC’s Mario Morales, who sees Intel on top for years to come. “You don’t want to burn Intel,” stated Morales. “If I am an AsusTek, I need to get processors for my other product lines from them.”
Along with introducing a myriad of new notebooks to the public this year, Asus is looking to update their gaming notebook, the G71, at CeBIT as well.
The G71Gx, Asus’ update on an old favorite, has been upgraded to hold an Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M graphics card (the fastest available), an Intel Centrino 2 processor, up to 12GB of DDR2, and 1TB of storage.
There’s no word yet on pricing or availability for this new beastie, but we can expect that it will cost a pretty penny.
Asus has been showing off its cool and quirky Marine Cool concept motherboard at CeBIT, and it's like nothing you've ever seen before. We say 'cool' in a literal sense, as the board's underbelly comes equipped with a backplate the company says utilizes "micro-porous ceramic" technology. According to Asus, the backplate provides "aerospace-grade thermal dissipating," while also adding to the board's structural integrity. Combined with the metal heat-pipe module covering the chipset and PWM, Asus says "these revolutionary designs improve heat dissipation by up to 2 fold."
The prototype board also boasts an onboard UPS consisting of a built-in polymer battery in the gray portion of the backplate, providing backup power and preventing damage in the case of a blackout. But the quirkiness comes in the form of SO-DIMM memory slots typically found on notebooks. We suppose the space-saving slots might have made sense on paper, but that's probably where it should have stayed. However, we do dig the built-in Failover Memory, which Asus says guarantees the system will boot when using incompatible or faulty memory.
Thoughts on the Marine Cool motherboard? Hit the jump and sound off.
As if Asus hadn’t been revealing enough in their notebook line lately, they’re adding one more to the pile with their fancy new U/UX series laptops.
The ultra-thin series of notebooks will feature light-up chicklet keys (with auto-adjusting backlights, a 15.6-inch glossy LCD and a touchpad that uses fading lights to follow the movement of your fingers. Powering it all will be a Core 2 Duo processor, Nvidia’s GeForce G105M GPU, up to 500GB of storage, and Altec Lansing speakers with SRS true surround sound.
These are expected for Q2 of this year, but no word yet on pricing for the U or the UX.
At CeBIT yesterday Asus unveiled the Eee PC 1008HA, a 1-inch thick netbook that weighs a mere 2.4 pounds.
The diminutive netbook, which was formerly known as the Eee PC Shell, is about as thin and light as the Eee PC S101, but it will supposedly have a smaller price tag. It will also feature an impressive 92% size keyboard and a multi-touch trackpad (like Dell’s Mini 10). Asus is yet to release any conclusive hardware details.
As far as pricing and availability goes, the only information that we have to go off of is the speculation that it’ll be cheaper than he Eee PC S101. No word on availability.