ASUS eeePC901 WinXP
The Eee PC 901 XP comes with a 12GB solid-state drive (UPGRADED to 32Gb), a 1.3-megapixel webcam, 1GB of RAM (UPGRADED TO 2Gb), and a multi-touch interface.
Slick New Appearance
We never had any major complaints about the aesthetics of previous Eee PCs, but we welcome the visual update. The matte lid found on previous models has been replaced with a smooth, glossy lid with Eee PC branding in cursive script in the upper-left corner. Despite the shiny top, the lid, thankfully, doesn’t attract many fingerprints. Where the display meets the deck (which also features the glossy coating) is a new circular, silver hinge, which, in tandem with the new lid, gives the 901 a far more sophisticated look; the Eee PC 901 is the first in the line that doesn’t scream “budget.”
The 8.9-inch screen looked sharp from a variety of angles when we watched episodes of Arrested Development on Hulu, but the colors were somewhat muted. Above the display is a 1.3-MP webcam that served up bright images and solid colors when videoconferencing with friends and colleagues using Meebo.
Improved Audio Punch
The inclusion of Dolby Sound Room stereo speakers to the 901 gives the Eee PC 901 surprisingly good sound despite being located on the bottom of the machine. Bass (understandably) was a bit lacking, but while streaming music from Slacker’s blues station, we enjoyed crisp, clear audio that had enough punch to fill a small room. When we plugged in a pair of Sony MDR-V150 headphones, a program launched that let us tweak audio settings.
Same Cramped Keyboard, Improved Trackpad
Popping the lid, we were met with a keyboard that’s the same size as what’s on the Eee PC 900. It’s an improvement over the lilliputian keyboard found on early Eee PCs, and feedback was generally good.
The trackpad, on the other hand, is far roomier than previous efforts and is the first in the Eee line that feels like one you’d find on a full-size notebook. As with the 900, the pad is responsive to multi-touch FingerGlide gestures, which let us zoom in on photos by pinching our fingers together or zoom out by spreading them apart. We weren’t, however, able to swipe through a series of pictures or move forward or backward between Web pages. The mouse buttons, similar to the Eee PC 900, now feature dedicated left and right buttons.
Super Hybrid Engine and Resolution Switching
Above the keyboard are four buttons that perform various functions: the first turns off the monitor, the second lets you change the screen resolution, the third, the Super Hybrid Engine switcher, let us cycle through power-saving modes, and the fourth is a user-definable launch key. The resolution and power-mode switchers are the most interesting.
The resolution switcher lets us move between 800 x 600, 1024 x 600 (default), 1024 x 768 (which makes the screen taller than its border), and 1024 x 768 compress, which squashes the image vertically to make everything fit.
The Super Hybrid Engine switcher lets us quickly cycle through power saving (1.2-GHz), auto-power saving (1.2-GHz, default), high performance (1.6-GHz), and super performance (1.8-GHz) settings. We didn’t notice any change in performance while switching modes, but you may want to engage this feature just to save battery life.
Good Performance, Great Battery Life
The most-talked-about feature of the Eee PC 901 is its 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor.
Applications such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player opened quickly (which may be attributable to the 1GB of RAM and 12GB solid state drive – both have been upgraded!), and we saw no performance hit when we chatted with friends using Meebo while streaming music, Web surfing, and checking e-mail. The integrated graphics scored 638 in our 3DMark03 test, which trumped all other mini-notebooks except for the MSI Wind NB’s 746 mark.
Atom’s biggest contribution to the Eee PC 901 is in the area of endurance. It helped power the 6-cell battery to nearly 5 hours of battery life with Wi-Fi turned off, which is short of the 7.8 hours touted by Asus, but still enough juice for plenty of computing. With the Wi-Fi signal activated, we saw an impressive 4 hours and 38 minutes of battery life, which outpaces some full-size notebooks. The other Atom-powered mini-notebook, theMSI Wind, saw 5 hours and 30 minutes of battery with the Wi-Fi turned off, and just over 4 hours with Wi-Fi on.
Courtesy of the 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, we saw a strong connection while working and playing online. The Eee PC 901 pushed data along at a rate of 17.5 Mbps at 15 feet away from our access point and 8.8 Mbps at 50 feet. The latter figure is only marginally better than what the MSI Wind NB turned in (7.7 Mbps) and that system sports an 802.11b/g radio. Bluetooth is also included, which we used to transfer Word documents from the Eee PC 901 to aLenovo ThinkPad X300and vice versa.
Software and Extra Features
Our Eee PC 901 came preinstalled with Windows XP Home