Mad, Beautiful Ideas

Given that I owed the Government a considerably smaller amount of money on my Income Taxes than I’d initially thought, I decided to buy myself an ASUS Eee PC 8G in Black. Since the difference between 3-day and 2-day shipping was less than $5, I opted to upgrade the shipping so that I’d get the little device sooner.

I immediately unloaded the device, plugging the battery and AC in, leaving the device off while Catherine and I went on a walk. About an hour later, we got home and my EEE was all charged, and I was ready to start it up. As they say, the device boots up in under 30 seconds, and the initial setup took only a couple minutes, which included skimming through the EULA.

The standard interface has been well discussed. There are a number of standard applications. Firefox for Web access, Adobe Acrobat for PDF reading, Open Office for Word Processing/Spreadsheet work, and a set of games and educational apps, which show that the Asus Eee PC is really well suited for children.

Not that I think the Eee is a kids’ toy. Even though the screen may seem awfully small, at 7 inches and 800x480 resolution, it’s really quite comfortable to use. It’s surprisingly bright, so bright that I turned it down to about 33% of the highest setting, and it’s still crisp. The keyboard is small, but even with my large hands, I’m doing a pretty decent job touch typing out this post. My only complaint about the keyboard is that a few of the keys are in slightly different places, which I’m slowly getting accustomed to.

For the time being, I’m probably going to leave the device on the stock Xandros installation that comes preinstalled. i may eventually switch over to Debian Eee, which if nothing else will return me to my comfortable GNOME Desktop. The Eee PC desktop can hardly be called KDE, though it does use KDE apps and QT4, but I miss things like Tomboy and a few other GNOME apps. Depending on how easy it is to install new software on my Eee, I’ll likely stick with the default install.

Speaking of installations, there were updates for nearly all the default applications, which the Eee makes fairly easy to install. The problem is that I have to upgrade each and every application individually. I should have been able to simply click a single button, or go through a set of check boxes to mark which updates I wanted.

The battery life appears to be as advertised, nearly 3 hours with the stock battery, and that’s with the wireless radio going, as well as some time on Youtube. Most surprising was that over 2 gigabytes of the 8 GB flash were filled, in retrospect this is likely related to OpenOffice and some of the other applications. Knowing that Windows XP takes up 1.1 GB without any other software, I’m curious where the stock Xandros install sits.

I’m very happy with this device so far. Mind you I’ve only had it for a few hours, but it should be great for blogging, and the Internet on the go. The thing is tiny, and most of the photos that i’ve seen don’t really give a good sense of scale unless you’ve seen the thing in person.