Readers, I got the Asus Eee PC

Yesterday, I made significant weight-loss and a financial security goals. I also bought a new computer. A light one. In cash.

I had written about the Asus Eee PC — which I’m calling “One Laptop per Adult” — but was thinking about waiting until April or later, when a rumored slightly-larger model was set to debut. But when a Day Job Office Mate got one of the low-end Surf 2G models on a lark and wanted to upgrade to a larger (but currently unavailable) model, we agreed that I would buy his. As you, dear readers, know: I love making the most out of low-end hardware.

The Asus Eee PC Surf 2G is the same size as its litter-mates, but has the smaller available processor (800 MHz) and RAM (512 Mb). It has no webcam (when have I ever used one of those?) and its solid-state hard drive is a pokey 2 Gigabytes. (On which the operating system and applications must also reside, leaving about a third of that for one’s own files.)

But the pluses make this small machine a darling.

  1. It is tiny. With the wall plug adapter, it weighs 1065g (measured on my food scale!) or 37.5 ounces. By contrast, the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, is 1015g with a similar size. (Photos below.) It even fits in my inside coat pocket.
  2. At US$299.95 retail, it is terribly cheap, but the more robust models reach another hundred dollars.
  3. Yet it is solidly built. It might look toy-sized, but doesn’t feel like a toy. Because it has no moving hard drive, it is quiet. The speakers are quite good. The button on the touchpad is a bit hard and I’m sure to use a spare USB mouse — there are three USB 2.0 ports — in daily use.
  4. It has a custom adapted Linux operating system — though built on Xandros, which many Linuxy types hate for philosophical reasons — that non-Linuxy types would use with ease. Indeed, I was going to swap it out instantly but have decided to leave it for a while, adding and removing individual pieces of software.
  5. It sips power. 22 watts — less than the compact fluorescent bulb in my desk lamp — and the packaging was mostly cardboard with just a bit of plastic. (That matters to some.)

More about who might-could-would well use an Asus Eee PC later.

Pictures below the fold.

Asus Eee PC on my desk

Asus Eee PC keyboard with my hand by comparison

Packaging from Asus Eee PC

10 Replies to “Readers, I got the Asus Eee PC”

  1. I got a 4g surf for $330 on newegg a few weeks ago and absolutely love it. Upgraded the RAM to 2gb, threw in an 8gb SD card for extra storage, and it’s brilliant. I hope to take it on trips — even work ones — instead of my far heavier and bulkier MacBook Pro.

    I hope you’ve learned about hitting F11 in Firefox already. That makes it far more usable.

    I ended up installing stock Ubuntu and it works rather well with a few tweaks. If I had to do it over again, I’d probably install eeeXubuntu, which is supposed to be smaller and faster. I’m contemplating compressing the /usr directory with squashfs and unionfs — that’s supposed to save about a gig.

  2. @Fr. Chris. No, thanks for the F11 tip, which gives a full screen view. If I don’t stick with the default OS, then I have the eeeXubuntu already downloaded.

    Thanks for the later tips.

    Oh, and I not knowing you had gotten one, I was thinking of you since I know you travel for church purposes. We tested the Eee on the Day Job Dell projector and it worked like a charm after a restart. For presentations and trainings, perhaps.

  3. I saw the Fry review — he’s great. 🙂 I agree, though, that Linux is probably ready to start slowly chipping away at Windows’ hegemony; it is not well placed to overturn things and steal massive market share.

    Having been a Linux guy from way back, I appreciate how user-friendly Ubuntu is compared to those days, but there are still a number of things that take a lot of work at the command line to get running. I don’t see many folks who are not like me being willing to do that work to, say, get their Guitar Hero guitar working for Frets on Fire, or get non-standard WiFi drivers working or something.

  4. I think the Eee PC looks kinda funny in any color other than black. I think it’s the speakers beside the screen or something.

  5. Where does one get one? And what word processing capabilities does it have? And…I’m not an Ubuntu or Linux person. Would it be a major pain to learn something like this?

    (Looking for an alternative to carry to school that “lugging” is not the appropriate term. I dropped my powerbook and my dell laptop is a widescreen gaming rig. It doesn’t travel except to conferences.)

  6. @Peregrinato. Good questions.

    1. You can buy an Asus Eee from any number of online retailers, like Amazon or Newegg.

    2. The default word processing software — really the one you find on just about every consumer-orientated Linux distribution — is the Writer part of the OpenOffice.org office suite. If you use MS Word in MS XP, you can use OpenOffice.org intuitively or nearly so. But I would want to add the Base (database) part if you want to mail merge or do high-end bibliography work.

    3. Others might not know we’re neighbors. Do you want to see the default Asus Eee before I install the eeeXubuntu? Let me know.

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