When the first Eee PC came out, it was pretty much an underpowered notebook. Then again, it wasn’t meant to be a powerhouse. It was able to surf the ‘net, word process, and maybe even do some presentations. The biggest advantage of the Eee PC was that it was affordable. So affordable in fact, that you could essentially get two Eee PCs for the price of the budget notebook. However, it was able to create a new PC segment, the Netbook.
Subsequent netbooks became more powerful to the point that they were actually bearable to use. Battery-life also increased that you can get up to 8 hours in a single charge. On the other hand, they were still underpowered for more demanding work such as media editing and gaming. Also, while the hardware was getting better, the software, namely the OS, was still catching up. This is why Asus decided to switch to an OS that was designed for mobile hardware. Asus chose Meego.
The hardware is your standard 10.1” netbook specs. It has your standard Intel Atom N455 processor running at 1.6GHz with 1GB of RAM. There are two flavors for the X101, namely the X101 with an 8GB SSD and the X101H with a 250GB hard drive. Aside from the storage capacity the X101 will be slimmer than the H variant and will have fewer ports. It won’t have an Ethernet and VGA port.
The X101H that we got to play with was actually an engineering sample. This means that although the hardware specs were already locked down, the exterior will actually change. Specifically, the smooth shell that you see in the photos will be replaced with the more patterned shell that other Eee PCs are known for.
That is all that I will say about the hard of the X101H since as we said earlier, it was an engineering sample and will change. We will wait until we get our hands on the production units to give our final thoughts on it.
Both units use a three-cell battery so expect around 3 hours off the power plug. This is more than enough for switching from room to room.
What we really want to go in-depth is the Meego OS. When the very first Eee PC entered the market, it used a derivative of Linux that featured basic applications such as word processing, internet browser, and the like. Nothing more, a little bit less. Early netbook was having difficulty more CPU-centric applications. They even had a hard time playing Flash videos smoothly but with the Meego OS and a more refined Flash player from Adobe and more updated hardware solved that.
As with trying out any new operating system, Meego has a learning curve. One thing to relearn is that there is not shutdown button on the OS. You have to physically press the On/Off button on the X101H itself. Sound familiar? Think about how you turn off your mobile phone.
The user-interface itself is pretty simple. When you boot the netbook, you land on your Home-style screen called the MyZone and a tab-style interface to switch to different tabs. The other tabs are the Zones which essentially shows you the different windows that are open. Speaking of the windows, all applications are in full screen. There is no way to minimize the windows and simultaneously show the apps at the same screen.
The next tab is the Applications tab where all your installed apps are categorized with your favorite apps appearing on the left-hand side of the screen. The Status tab is where you manage all your social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The People tab is essentially your contacts taken from the various IM services that you provided when you first start up the netbook. The Internet tab is the Chromium browser which is the open-source sibling of Google’s Chrome. So if you are familiar with Chrome, you’ll feel right at home with Chromium.
The Media tab is where you manage all your media from photos to music to videos. The media player installed with the Meego OS will play almost all codecs and file types thrown at it. I has played every kind of video file I threw at it including MP4s and AVIs. I tried playing 720p videos and it played most MP4 files in HD but you will notice some stuttering and skipped frames on some areas of the video.
And if you need to poke around the insides of the Meego OS, you can always play around with the Devices tab to customize the OS to your liking. While the Bluetooth and Network tabs are pretty much self-explanatory where you can switch these On or Off or just refine them further.
With the X101 with an 8GB solid state drive and 250gb for the hard drive counterpart, the X101H, Asus is again setting a new benchmark in terms of pricing with the most affordable, the X101, at PhP9,990 with the X101H at PhP10,990.
Using Meego on the X101H feels very beta. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it still is as there are still noticeable bugs on the OS. For example, the first time I opened the X101H, I have set it up the way I want it with Bluetooth and Ethernet off, leaving only WiFi to connect to the Internet. However, every time I boot up the netbook, it would re-enable both Bluetooth and Ethernet. Every time. Thankfully these are just software issues that can be fixed by a future software update.
I used the X101H for a week as travel laptop. It was easily the lightest portable that I have stashed in my bag which helped my spine a whole lot. On the other hand, the 3-hour battery life always kept me anxious for a power socket when the netbook alerted me that it wants more juice. I just wish that Asus would consider a higher capacity battery or at least offer them as an aftermarket option in their stores.
The X101 whether it is the vanilla version or the H version is a far cry from the very first Eee PC that Asus released. Both perform faster than other netbooks past or present in performance and at boot as well. The X101H will not replace your primary PC but then again, it wasn’t meant to be. It is perfect as a secondary PC where you just need some light computing.
Meego does take some getting used to but for those willing will be rewarded with a very responsive operating system that does most of the things that any user might use for a relatively affordable price. If not, well, for the most affordable netbook, you can always install a different OS.
Display: 10.1″ LED Backlight WSVGA (1024×600) Screen
CPU: Intel Atom N435/N455 Processor
RAM: DDR3, 1 x SO-DIMM, 1GB ( Maximum 2GB )
HDD: 2.5″ SATA 250GB with 2 GB Dropbox Web Storage
Plus: Most affordable netbook; OS replaceable
Minus: The Meego OS has a learning curve but not so much as to be a hindrance to use; 3 hour battery life is less than the current batch of netbooks.
Bottomline: For those thinking about an affordable secondary PC or something to gift, the X101/H are good choices.