Exclusive First Review: Asus Eee PC 701
This past weekend a circular advertised a Vista-powered laptop equipped with a Celeron processor, 14.1-inch display, an 80GB hard drive, and a DVD drive for only $399. For the same price, the Asus Eee PC (see the photo gallery) offers the same amount of RAM and Celeron processor but a smaller seven-inch display, a measly 4GB of storage space, and no DVD drive. And yet there's no way we would give up this two-pound wonder for a "regular" notebook. The Eee PC may be designed to appeal to children and older customers, but it should also tempt anyone looking for a lightweight budget PC that weighs next to nothing and connects to the Internet easily. It's ten times simpler to use than any Windows machine, starts up twice as fast (no crapware!), and is only about a fifth of the cost of other systems in its weight class. It's a little rough around the edges, but the Eee PC is a remarkably versatile machine for the price.
The reason why the Eee PC should appeal to kids and grandparents alike is the streamlined, tab-based interface that offers only six easy-to-understand options: Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, and Favorites. In some cases the Asus-designed menu (which runs on top of Linux) merely offers links to sites that Web-savvy users have already bookmarked, like Yahoo e-mail or Google Docs, but these choices are welcome for a target audience that may not be able to find these resources easily. We also appreciated the option of using these quick shortcuts, as opposed to opening the browser first. Users will love having a clutter-free desktop for day-to-day use and will likely find navigating the various options refreshingly simple compared with XP or Vista, as well as with Mac OS X.