ASUS is clearly dominating the ultra-mo bile notebook market with its Eee PCs. But local executives said that it will r emain a niche player in this ever-competitive market for notebooks. The photo features the Eee Box (left) which comes with a 16-inch LCD monitor, w hile to the right is the Eee PC 900, the first to have the Intel Atom processor, which has not ye t been introduced to the Philippines due to the availability of the Eee PC 1000 series. INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alexander Villafania talks to Asus Philippines Country Man ager Leon Yu who stressed that its latest Intel Atom-based ultra-mobile not ebooks will not compete with other brands using the same processor. "The market for ultramobile PC is huge and we're only targeting people who have specific needs. We don't have any problems with the other brands in the same m arket," Yu said. Yu, however, acknowledged that the Intel Atom-based ultra-mobile notebooks will boost demand for low-cost, low-power computers especially in the Philippines w here there is a huge segment for budget-conscious buyers eyeing their first com puters. So why are people going gaga over the new Eee PC and Eee Box? Here are the published specifications: The Eee PC 1000 incorporates several new features not seen in previous Eee PC m odels. Among these include the Atom N270 processor running at 1.6 Gigahertz (th e previous Eee PC 900 uses an Atom processor but was not introduced in the Phil ippines). It is also the first model to have Bluetooth connectivity and the new 802.11N Wifi antenna allowing for faster Internet connection. The Eee PC 1000 also has a standard 6-cell battery instead of the 3 or 4-cell b attery. This should make it last approximately 7 hours on idle or about 3 hours on active mode with all the wireless connectivity switched on. It has a 1 Giga byte memory and 80 Gb hard disk. The keyboard is also bigger at 95 percent making it more comfortable to use tha n previous generations of Eee PCs. The screen is also bigger at 10.2-inches and can render images up to 1 megapixel. Meanwhile, the company also introduced the Eee Box, a mini-desktop computer tha t uses the Atom 230 processor variety. It is just slightly bigger than the Eee PC 1000 but has nearly the same features, except for Bluetooth. Both the Eee PC 1000 and Eee Box use Windows XP Home operating system. The form er costs P29,900 while the latter costs P24,999 bundled with a 16-inch widescre en LCD monitor.
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By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net IT'S just over an inch bigger than the first model but it still is a tiny thing and it works really well. Asus really took the ultramobile PC (UMPC) business by storm (though technicall y the Asus Eee PC is not a UMPC). Worldwide, the Taiwanese firm had wanted to t arget a very specific niche market and did not intend to land itself into the m ass PC market. Instead, it made a name for itself, even farther from its succes s as a motherboard maker and basically boosted the idea that a UMPC is a viable product. The company launched the first Eee PC (model 701) in the middle of 20 07. Few thought that a solid-state drive (SSD) could present itself as a replac ement for mechanical hard disks, especially with the upper limit of 8 gigabytes , which was relatively small capacity at the time. But since then, it became ob vious that SSDs would spur manufacturers to integrate SSDs into their own noteb ooks. Now there are copycats of other UMPCs using SSDs but with almost nothing coming close to the Eee PC. Blame it on being mesmerized by a fully working notebook on such a small scale but as long as it actually worked then it's fine by me. B esides, the first Eee PC was pretty cheap (at least P16,000 for the 4-gigabyte model) and it worked quite well even with just a Linux operating system. A few tweaks and it could even be installed with a Microsoft Windows XP operating sys tem though it was a bit risky as the remaining space on a 4GB SSD might not be able to fully accommodate any other application. Out-of-the-box feel Those familiar with, or who own a previous Asus Eee PC model, will feel right a t home with the new Eee PC 900 model. The box containing the Eee PC is nothing spectacular but the contents are neatly tucked inside. The Eee PC comes with it s charger, an application CD, its manuals and the battery pack. If you're the n ostalgic type, you'd want to keep the box but I suppose that's impractical beca use keeping a clunky box defeats purpose of buying a UMPC. The Eee PC 900 comes in two colors: black and pearl white. For this review, Asu s provided the white version. It's surprising how differences in color can affe ct how one perceives the Eee PC 900: is it for girls or for boys? Regardless, b oth have the same functions and form. The Eee PC 900 also comes in two models: the 12 GB SSD with Windows OS and the 20 GB with a Linux OS. One would wonder why the 12GB only uses Windows and the 20 GB doesn't. The target market of the Eee PC might not bother to get the 20GB because they need Windows This hardware is slightly larger than the Eee PC 700 series, at 225 millimeters x 165 mm x 35 mm. Still, it is small enough to fit in a bag. Even ladies' bags or children's bags would do well for the Eee PC 900. Asus claims that their ne w model is tough enough to survive a three-foot drop, which could happen more r egularly because how light the notebook is (barely 1 kilogram). Better be caref ul not to accidentally drop the bag where the Eee PC is stored. Playing with it Using the Windows XP version Eee PC 900 can be summed up in two things: it's ve ry portable and works like a breeze. Even the robust system requirements of Win dows doesn't affect the device's operations. People who have used Windows XP kn ow how notorious it is during startup. But with the Eee PC 900, the startup is just around 15 seconds, or nearly half the time Windows XP loads on an ordinary notebook. This is because of the use of an underclocked 900 Megahertz Intel Ce leron processor and a 1GB memory module, which essentially speeds up operations . This is coupled by the fact that the SSD has a faster load time compared to o rdinary hard disks. Not surprisingly the Eee PC does slow down a bit when applications are being in stalled and these become active during startup. Instant messaging applications such as Yahoo! Messenger, which install on Windows' startup applications list, have to be turned off to lessen the slowdown. It is recommended that users opt for customized installation instead of automatic installation. A user can cradle the Eee PC in one hand and type away with the other. The keys are nearly a third smaller than in a full-sized keyboard and some of the keys are not placed as they should be. It does take some getting used to especially for touch typing. It's actually easier to use just three fingers on each hand a s there's a tendency for fingers to bump each other while pressing some keys. Normally, people would find it hard typing even with two hands on the Eee PC bu t the point of having the device is to have a secondary notebook instead of lug ging around a huge laptop. While the Eee PC may have all the basic laptop funct ions, and then some, it is still primarily for quick document editing, Internet browsing and chat. Nevertheless, there are still some advanced functions that it could do. One in particular is video editing. Using software such as Solveig MM AVI Trimmer and MPEG Streamclip, I was able to edit and convert videos on th e Eee PC. However, there was a noticeable lag but it was not enough to cause co ncern. In fact, while I was splicing videos together, I was already uploading o ne of them to a media sharing site. Larger screen, louder speaker A major improvement of the Eee PC 900 over the Eee PC 700 series is a larger LC D screen at 8.9 inches, about 1-inch longer diagonally. It is also brighter and has better resolution. Whereas the Eee PC 700 could only render up to 800x480 pixels, the Eee PC 900 can render 1024x600 pixels, or about 1 megapixels. This is just about the same quality as many 32-inch LCD TVs. Because of the larger s creen and better resolution, it becomes a treat to actually use the Eee PC 900 for watching video files. Depending on the available video software and codecs installed that have to be installed separately, the Eee PC 900 can view AVI, MP EG and MPEG-4, MOV and WMV files. The video quality on its screen is not top no tch but users might still be able to enjoy watching a few homemade or downloade d videos for a while. The size of this model doesn't hide the fact that it's louder than many other n otebooks. In fact, it can turn up the volume high enough to be heard within 50 feet. The speakers are hidden beneath the unit but that doesn't muffle the volu me. The only drawback is that the speakers, despite being touted as stereo, do not sound that good compared to other basic notebooks. A better-sounding earpho ne or headset can be plugged into an audio jack on the left side (facing screen ), which is also joined by a microphone jack. Incidentally, the loud, monotone-sounding speaker is best used when using the E ee PC 900 to make voice-over-IP calls, whether though Skype or Yahoo! Messenger . The audio is pretty clear but nothing too fancy and the built-in microphone c an capture even ambient sounds but only in front of it. According to Asus, the VOIP calls can work well with the Eee PC's webcam functions (a 1.3 megapixel we bcam is on top of the screen). Surprisingly, there are some problems using the VOIP functions along with a two-way video call, which can be noticed in Yahoo! Messenger. This may be because of my Internet bandwidth or some limitations wit h Windows XP or even because of the low 1GB memory. I had no way to compare its performance with the Linux version for two-way video calls and VOIP. Hopefully , it's a problem of the software and not the hardware. Battery life Battery life has always been the main weakness of all handheld devices and the Eee PC 900 is no exception. It still uses the same 4-cell battery pack that giv es only a maximum of 2.5 hours operational period, with all the wireless connec tivity and USB devices turned off or removed (it has up to 3 USB slots, one con veniently placed on the right side for a USB mouse and the other two on the opp osite side for external peripherals). If the wifi receiver is turned on, the un it could last at exactly an hour. An external USB device, especially a 2.5-inch hard disk, would significantly af fect battery life as it drains power through its USB connection. Normally, it w ould take nearly 40 minutes before the battery runs out when an external disk d rive is connected. It would have been truly a treat if the Eee PC 900 used the much more energy-efficient 6-cell battery. However, a longer-lasting battery me ans using a larger and heavier battery pack, which may not be the most efficien t way to go. Regardless, a user can just bring out the Eee PC 900's power suppl y cable and plug it into a wall socket. The power cable itself isn't that big a nd can be mistaken for another toy. Overall, the Asus Eee PC 900 is a reliable piece of equipment for those looking to do nitty-gritty work on the road or anywhere else. It's not among the bigge r laptops in the market and cannot do much of the same work that other notebook s do, yet it serves its purpose for specific target markets. Asus says its prim ary market includes ladies, students and those needing secondary laptops, but t he Eee PC 900 can be used by anyone. They just need to get past the P24,990 selling price. If so, they're better off with this one.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net IN THIS day and age of high power costs, computer enthusiasts are becoming incr easingly aware that their hobby of building computers might affect their power consumption. Some hardware manufacturers are already integrating power-saving f eatures in their products, such as Intel's latest processors and some hard disk models. Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Asustek takes it a bit farther with what it cal ls the first ever motherboard that has an integrated power-saving feature. The P5Q motherboard series has been integrated with a specialized southbridge chip called the energy processing unit (EPU-6), which the company claims to have a p ower-saving level of 80.23 percent and utilizes up to 96 percent of energy cons umed. Asus claims the P5Q can also manage the power consumption of the processors, ha rd disk and graphics cards installed on it. According to Asus Southeast sales a ccount specialist Steven Cokeng, the motherboard EPU setting runs automatically but can be adjusted through the system BIOS. Nevertheless, Cokeng said the motherboard has been optimized for overclockers a s the P5Q features the P45 Intel chipset, which could accommodate up to Intel C ore 2 Quad processors, supporting up to 1600 megahertz front side bus. It can b e installed with up to 16 Gigabytes of DDR2 memory from 667 megahertz to 1200 M Hz. It also features up three PCIex16 slots (for the higher version P5Q-E model ). Some notable overclocking features of the P5Q include 64-step DRAM voltage cont rol, and adjustable CPU voltage at 0.000625V increments, and a 48-step chipset voltage control. Cokeng also said that along with the power-saving features and the overclocking capabilities the P5Q also has its own quiet heat protection solution in the fo rm of specially-designed pure copper heat pipes running along the edge of the m ain processor slot, the northbridge chipset and the southbridge chipset. Another feature in the P5Q is a small solid state hard disk installed in the mo therboard, which acts as its primary operating system if it has no other operat ing system installed. The Asus Express Gate has a light Linux kernel that has s mall applications, such as an Internet browser, a voice-over-IP application and email software. Likewise, it can view photo and video files and play music fil es. Its Web browser can access video sites such as YouTube. Cokeng claims the Express Gate has a 5-second startup, making it one of fastest load time for an operating system. Those not looking to install a full operati ng system and just want their PCs for basic uses can alternatively use the Expr ess Gate for their needs. "The P5Q's EPU and the Express Gate are just two of the things that will have a future in later motherboards," Cokeng said.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net UPDATE: Editor's note: Corrected typo in battery life of A sus Eee PC 900, and error in screen resolution of Asus Eee PC 701. Thanks to ou r readers for the heads up. THEIR product may sound like a cross between a shriek and a car screech but Tai wanese firm Asustek shook up the ultra mobile PC (UMPC) business last year by l aunching the Asus Eee PC 701. While it is technically not a UMPC, the Eee PC pr oved to be a most convenient and marketable device in this market segment. Barely a year after the launch, Asus wants to take on the UMPC market again by launching the Eee PC 900, which only has a few differences from the previous mo del except for bigger RAM (1 gigabyte on the 900 series compared to 512 megabyt es for the Eee PC 700 series) and a higher-capacity solid-state drive (SSD), a feature that makes the device even more appealing as it lengthens battery life compared to regular hard disks with moving parts. Both the 900 and 700 series s till use 900-megahertz Intel Celeron-M processors. The first Eee PC models have 2GB and 4 GB SSDs while the new Eee PC 900 has 12GB and 20GB models. Here's a video of Vivian Hung, Eee PC product manager for Asustek Asia Pacific, showing the new Asus Eee PC 900. Incidentally, it is also the first time that Asus has pre-installed the Windows XP operating system on the Eee PC 900 12GB version. The previous models used X andros Linux, which has carefully laid out all the functions for new computer u sers as well as those unfamiliar with operating systems other than Windows. The Eee PC 20GB model, however, still uses the same Xandros Linux OS. The Eee PC prides itself for its compact design, which appeals to a lot of stud ents, women and those who just want to have a small, robust notebook that could do basic document editing, Internet browsing and spreadsheets. The original Ee e PC is indeed small and weighed less than a kilogram. In comparison, the Eee P C 900 is slightly bigger, at 225 millimeters x 165 mm x 35 mm, almost the size of a regular paper notebook. If put in a backpack, the Eee PC could fit well am ong a student's notebooks and textbooks. The larger design is due to a bigger 8.9-inch LCD screen, versus the 7 inches f or the Eee PC 701. The screen looks particularly better, with brighter backligh t and higher resolution at 1024x600 pixels versus the 800x600 480 pixels on the Eee PC 701 model. It is so mewhat unimportant for most people, but the higher-resolution LCD display could play videos better, which could be good for people who regularly browse throug h video websites or even watch graphics-heavy AVI, MPEG-4 and WMV files. It als o sports a 1.3 megapixel webcam, compared to the 0.3 megapixel one on the Eee P C 700 series. Wireless connectivity is also a breeze on the Eee PC 900 model. In both the Win dows XP and Linux versions, the unit can detect wifi signals and easily connect to available hotspots. It uses 802.11 b/g standards. The other wireless connec tivity available is Bluetooth 2.0. The 10/100 megabit Ethernet port for wired c onnection is also available. The device also has three USB connections convenie ntly placed along its sides; two are on the right side and another on the left. It also has a multi-card reader that could accommodate SD cards and multimedia cards. Too bad it doesn't support Sony memory sticks. Asus claims the new 900 model can also run approximately 3 hours before running out of batteries, as with the 700 series. Results could vary depending on the use of the Eee PC's other functions (wifi, Bluetooth and USB). The Eee PC 700 was a viable solution partly because of its lower price (P17,000 ) but the bigger storage capacity and larger memory Eee PC 900 costs P25,000 (b oth the 12GB Windows and 20GB Linux versions). For some, it may be too expensiv e already since many full-size laptops are already priced at the same range. Still, Asus is confident the new model will still be a niche market device for women, students and those looking for a secondary laptop they could convenientl y carry around.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net TAIWANESE computer maker Asus has unveiled the Asus Eee PC, which weighs barely a kilogram and is no wider than an eight-inch hardbound book. Its thickness is about two inches and it has a seven-inch (diagonal) LCD monitor. Unlike normal laptops, the Eee PC's size limits its functions such as the memor y storage and the absence of an internal drive. Instead of a hard disk, the Eee PC uses flash memory, similar to small USB thumb drives. There are no optical disc drives but it has three USB slots to allow for connecting USB devices, inc luding external optical drives and hard disks. Here's a video interview I did. Other features of the Eee PC are an Intel Celeron Mobile processor, 256 MB RAM (upgradeable to 1 Gigabyte), 2 GB up to 8 GB flash memory, and either the Linux or Windows XP operating system. For communications, it has a wireless network, built-in microphone and webcam. It has a battery life of up to four hours. Asus Philippines sales manager Peter Chua said the Eee PC will be targeted at e xtremely mobile executives, students and home users who have neither the space nor budget to have a notebook PC. Chua said the Eee PC comes in 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB models. The 4 GB model will be rolled out in the market in November and will have a suggested retail price of P19, 800. The other models will be introduced in early 2008.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net PREVIOUSLY, we reviewed the Acer 5920G. Now we play around with a nother Taiwanese contender and the latest iteration of their gaming laptop, the Asus G1S and among the Taiwan-made notebooks, this one truly is a heavyweight. It seems to be a trend among notebook makers now to push the bar further in int roducing models that cater to the more demanding market of hardcore gamers, not to mention putting price tags that are still within the P100, 000 price range. While putting up a gaming rig is half as expensive as getting a notebook with the same specifications, having a souped-up computer that can be lugged around during frag fests can be a treat. Besides, notebooks that have been dressed up with stickers look way more cool than even modified PCs. Anyway, the Asus G1S is an upgrade to Asusâ original gaming notebook, the G1. T he G1S has new features commonly found in most gaming desktops: It uses the Int el core 2 Duo T7500 2.2 Gigahertz processor, 2 Gb memory (upgradeable to 4Gb), NVidia GeForce 8600M GT 256MB video card, 160Gb SATA hard disk and an 8-speed D VD super multi-drive with Lightscribe and 15.4â LCD panel. Incidentally, the Asus G1S runs as smoothly as the Acer 5920G since both share nearly the same specifications. The G1S can play all of the most demanding vide o games available, including the extremely resource-intensive Supreme Comma nder and Medieval II. It can also do audio and video editing (if installed with proper multimedia editing tools) and can also be used for watchi ng DVDs (too bad it still doesnât come with either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray playback c apabilities). But what sets the Asus G1S from the few other gaming notebooks out there is its seemingly longer battery life. While the Acer 5920G lasts about a full 1 and a half hour at maximum battery consumption, the Asus G1S lasts nearly 2 hours at full capacity. That means most of the battery consuming parts. The battery dep letes faster if other capabilities are activated, particularly the Bluetooth an d WiFi antennas. Likewise, this unit is extremely quiet. Even at full processor capacity, the in ternal fans donât whir as loud as most notebooks. One has to come nearer to the exhaust fan to hear the fans. Occasionally, the rotating DVD drive makes some sounds but these are quite tolerable. When running graphic intensive applications i.e. video games, the Asus G1S grap hics can be set according to the need. If the G1S is running on Windows XP, an NVidia software controller can be downloaded from their site. Windows Vista wil l already feature a graphics control that is almost effective as the NVidia sof tware. While the Nvidia 8600M GT can be technically overclocked it may not be a dvisable especially with only the basic fan and heatsink protecting it from ove rheating. On the outside, the Asus G1S is aptly designed for its capabilities. It almost shares the same design as its fashionable cousin, the Asus Lamborghini VX1 but the G1S is all black and has a carbon-fiber like design. The casing is made of tough plastic with some solid aluminum plating in certain areas, which work for physical protection and heat dissipation. Even the keyboard is color coded for the gamer. The keys ASWD, commonly used for first person shooters, have been l abeled for easier reference. Even the touchpad has been designed with the carbo n-fiber mesh. Of course, a real gaming mouse is best use for such a device. Luc kily, Asus has thrown in an optical mouse to really complete the gaming experie nce. Because itâs a gaming notebook, the 1.3 megapixel embedded camera will allow th e user to do fragfests and show off his game face. The LCD monitor is also one of the brightest and has a response time of 8 milliseconds, which is as fast as most of todayâs LCD TVs. In fact, the Asus G1S has 1 HDMI port so it can be co nnected to an LCD TV. One drawback for the Asus G1S is its sound, which is not as good as the Acer 59 20G, which has a powerful down-firing subwoofer. It is not as bad as most lapto ps but a real gaming rig should also come with a more efficient sound system so that the user can do away with an otherwise clunky headset. Despite that drawback the Asus G1S is still the best solidly made gaming laptop around, just slightly better than Acerâs 5920G. Its major advantage is its lon ger battery life, which will entice the user to play games or watch videos long er without having to worry about plugging the battery to an external power outl et.