Better Late Than Never: Asus EEE PC Review

*Technically the bulk of this review was written in December. I was dragging my feet trying to get the audio to work before posting it. Oh, and I was debating whether I should take original photos or steal other people's from Google Image Search. Turns out laziness in finding the camera, setting up the environment, getting the light right, configuring the image quality, & all that jazz was left to someone else. Yay image sharing!
A couple months ago I purchased the Asus EEE PC. It's a netbook, which is a classification of tiny laptops. I find it fun to talk about netbooks, because they fly completely in the face of modern computers. Since the dawn of the computer, it's been about what we can fit in the same space as the previous version. A little effort was made to control size and weight, which is why you never found a 30 pound laptop without a briefcase handle on it. But by and large the philosophy was "Alright, last year we sold a dual core processor XP laptop with 160gb hard drive in this case. So to progress, we'll add a blue streak to the outside of the case, as well as quad-core processor with Vista and 540gb hard drive. It still fits! And we can charge thrice as much! High five time!!" Okay, maybe that was a little unrealistic. No one outside of Britain uses the word thrice anymore.
The whole concept of the netbook is in benefit to the companies that can't keep up with the big tech developers like IBM and Dell. They looked at the world of laptops and said "hey, what if I want an ultra-portable laptop just to check my email and write word documents?" Surprisingly, they actually found a market with this philosophy. Me included.
When I started college I had the ultra-powerful laptop of the time. It stored all my school papers AND ran all my computer games wonderfully. I also ran into space issues with it because it was a widescren laptop that weighed 16 pounds, the same as a fat dachshund. The EEE PC has been a dream because most of my textbooks weigh more than it. It's sturdily enough made that I don't worry about it being crushed by everything else in my backpack.
Now for the downside of this $300 little wonder: the hard drive space and processor. The built-in storage space is all of 4 GB. Yes, that's retarded. My mp3 player holds 30GB, by golly! So at my first chance, I bought an 8GB SD card that's sole purpose is to live in this netbook and hold any programs or papers I have for this computer.
The processor speed is slow enough that you have to either have patience or have something else going on. In the modern world where we want the computer to run as fast as we think, this little guy simply will not keep up with the pace.
It probably didn't help the speed that as soon as I brought it home I reformatted the system. Out of the box it had an Asus special edition Linux OS. It wanted me to learn Chinese! How globally special that must seem. But alas, I speak one language poorly enough as it is. No need to offend a couple billion more people. So the first thing I did was install Windows XP. Yay familiarity.
Since then I've used it for note-taking and web browsing at school. It connects to the wireless networks just fine, and the battery life is impressive. As my big laptop aged, spending an hour unplugged became impressive. This little guy does 2 hours without breaking a sweat. I love that.
Overall, I consider it $300 well spent. I would recommend one of these mini-laptops to anyone on a budget who is comfortable storing their lives on the web with gmail and online note-taking applications like Evernote. But the important thing to remember is what you are getting by keeping that price down. I wouldn't ever suggest this as someone's ONLY computer. Continue to play WoW on your tricked out laptops or everyday desktops.
Pleasant mini-computing days to all.

**Pre-release update** After reformatting the hard drive so it ran XP, I hadn't been able to get the right sound driver. After months of scouring the web, installing numerous drivers and rebooting just to find sound didn't work, I finally hit the jackpot and found the right site. Techspot.com finally hooked me up with just the right software. Thanks, folks!