The Asus Eee PC S101 | The Netbook Has Grown Up
Asus pioneered the netbook with the original Eee PC and now the Asus Eee PC S101 represents the pinnacle of it's progress and development. For once, Asus have produced a mini laptop that looks somewhat graceful. Better than that - it’s stunning.
Asus have produced a whole different chassis and coated it in what they call ‘Mocha Brown’, ‘Champagne’ or ‘Graphite’. So basically they've produced a mini laptop in brown and two shades of grey, but still, it does look fantastic.
It has a shiny finish, but isn't tacky. It has metallic strips running round the rim, tastefully done to not look too bling and on the inside the screen gets the same glossy finish from the exterior but manages to avoid reflecting light like a high visibility jacket so it doesn't dazzle the user.
The looks are further enhanced by the silky smooth curves of the lighter chassis, tapered at one end to make it appear thinner.
Asus have done something quite magical with the thickness, as thin as 18mm at some points, fattening out only to 25mm – that’s giving the MacBook Air a run for its wallet busting price tag.
Does It Deliver Anything Other Than Looks?
The keyboard, as already mentioned, is large, similar (if not identical) to that on the Asus Eee PC 1000 series, big enough for most people to touch-type on.
The classy look and feel is extended to the mouse pad with it's metallic like buttons similar to the rim lining strips and a grained pattern around the touchpad.
Battery life is slightly below par compared with the less attractive models, at around 4 to 5 hours battery life, depending on usage. This is mostly down t the smaller 4-cell 4,900mAh battery. It also includes an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, common across all the later Eee PCs and copycat netbooks, so performance overall isn't significantly different.
More disappointment comes from connectivity. Yes, it’s got bluetooth and WLAN, but the lack of HSPDA (that is High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) or Mobile Broadband – so called 3.5G is a shame. Considering the price tag, and the “high-end” model specification and looks, surely this would be a given.
So Is The Asus Eee PC S101 Value For Money?
The S101 is almost a full 30% more expensive than the current top spec, most expensive Eee PC models, the 1000 series - and it's a heck of a lot to pay for just for aesthetics.
It is however, the only seriously good looking mini laptop available which is good news for those who want a laptop but don’t believe current efforts have been taking looks seriously enough.
Good size and weight is perhaps a deal-clincher, especially when the competition for thin and light models come in at around two and a half times the price in the form of the Apple MacBook Air or the Sony VAIO TT. In that sense, it represents extraordinary value for money. But the performance isn’t nearly as good.
Asus themselves have many contenders for the 10 inch mini laptops. Aside from the Eee PC models, including the recently announced Eee PC 1002HA (essentially an Eee PC 1000 dressed up in S101 fashion), they have their very own Asus N10, the smallest model in the ‘N Series’.
The N10, whilst sharing the Intel Atom processor familiar with its cousins, includes a 250GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 9300M graphics card, slightly larger keyboard and a choice of Windows Vista or XP operating system. For only £499, it’s certainly worth taking into consideration.
In a nutshell, the Asus Eee PC S101 is the perfect mini laptop for those who want something attractive, portable, with a touch of class and are willing to spend a bit more. Otherwise, if looks aren't your first consideration then consider the Eee PC 1000.
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