The Eee PC X101H is the newest offering from Asus. The netbook market is going through ups and downs but that has not stopped Asus from churning out wonderful, yet cheap netbooks. X101H is the higher-end, more expensive version of the X101 that uses hard disk instead of the Garfunkel SSD. Read more about it in this review.
We received the Atom N455 version of the X101H which is going to retail for somewhere between 250-280 dollars when it hits the US retail stores. The X101H brings the good old days of Eee PC 701 back with its matte plastic body which gives it a ‘quietly brilliant’ image. The display is matte too, just like its cheaper Meego-only model – X101. Resolution is 1024 x 600 which is common for such screens.
X101h measures 262 x 180 x 22 mm and weighs in at 1 kilo grams. While this is not the thinnest netbook Asus has ever produced (thinnest is 1018p which is 21.9 mm thick) but it is surely the cheapest the company has ever produced. Build quality is amazing for for a cheap netbook like this.
Just above the display, you will find a 0.3 mega pixel webcam which can be used for video conferencing. Ports – On the right side, you will find a headphone jack, USB 2.0, LAN and Kensington lock. On the other side, you will find a VGA port, power port, USB and SD card slot. There is no HDMI on it.
The keyboard is chic let type which does not feels cheap at all. A little bit of flex is there, but nothing really complain about. However, we often did some typing mistakes due to the small right shift key. Asus still has not learnt from the feedback given by its users, i.e., use the full size right shift key. Other than that, the size of keys felt comfortable to our digits.
The mouse buttons are absolutely horrible. They require too much effort from the user’s side to register button clicks. Meego is not configured to make use of multi touch gestures, so not even two finger scrolling is available. The only possible solution is to install Windows 7 on X101h. Fortunately, that is possible, thanks to Asus which has made its drivers available online for the users that wish to install Windows 7 on it.
Performance – We really wanted to try out the Atom N435 processor, but only Atom N455 processor was made available to us. Even though it is an entry level netbook, the specs of X101H are not much different from other 10.1 inch netbooks out there. That is not a bad thing though. You will still be able to run 720p videos in YouTube (just make sure some part of the video is loaded before hitting the play button) and have a nice web browsing experience in Chrome. Heck, you can even delete MeeGo completely and install Windows 7 on X101H. Then, you will be able to run full word processing and Internet apps like a charm. XP drivers are not available though.
To compare its performance against other netbooks, we installed windows 7 and did the PCmark 7 benchmark test. It scored 418 points. Clearly, the newer AMD E350 yields twice as much power. That said, the power is good enough for web browsing and running office productivity apps.
Upgrading RAM – This is easy as pie. Just unscrew the single screw present at the back of the Eee PC X101H and swap the 1GB RAM with a 2GB RAM module. Easy. Keep in mind that the Atom N455 does not supports more than 2GB RAM. Upgrading the hard disk is more difficult as it requires opening the entire unit, unlike X101 where the solid state drive is accessible from the bottom panel.
MeeGo: We had high expectations for this operating system but it is a huge let down. While its load time of 15 seconds is extremely impressive, and interface is pretty zippy, you will find yourself struggling to keep yourself productive. Multitasking is horrible as there is no taskbar. To switch between running tasks, you must do the alt+tab combo or click the Zone button and then select your running application.
There are thumb-size buttons at the top which point to different shortcuts. For example: The first button, i.e, MyZone gives you a quick glance at your Facebook and Twitter stream. On the left side, there are shortcuts to your favorite apps. There is a shortcut for your IM, music, connected devices (like SD card, USB drive) and so on.
MeeGo revolves around social networking and web browsing. It is simple, cheerful operating system and takes away all the complexities. You can install more apps via Asus Appstore, which is nothing but a rebadged Intel AppUp. If you want to do serious work, install Ubuntu or Windows 7 on it.
We were really skeptical with the battery runtimes as claimed by Asus. Why? Well, the Eee PC X101H ships with the small 3 cell battery with 2600mAh capacity (28Wh) which should not be able to yield more than 3 hours in real life usage. While, the company promises that you will be able to squeeze out up to 4 hours of use from it, we were able to get mere 2 hours and 35 minutes while doing web browsing with the pre installed Chrome browser. Sucks and we know it.
Pros and Cons:
(+) Decent keyboard
(+) Matte display
(+) Can run Windows 7
(+) RAM easily upgradable
(+) Ok-ish performance
(-) Poor battery life
(-) Just two USB 2.0 ports
(-) Upgrading hard disk is difficult
(-) Feels cheap
(-) Poor screen resolution
(-) Meego is still not mature enough to be used as a primary OS
(-) Awful mouse buttons
(-) Feels outdated already
Verdict – While the build and construction is satisfying for a cheap netbook, we definitely recommend dumping the MeeGo all together and get Windows 7 or Ubuntu / Linux Mint on it. Do we recommend getting it? Well, just by adding 20-30 dollars to X101h’s price tag, you get a more powerful Acer 522 netbook that has HDMI, 3 USB ports, 6 cell battery, better screen resolution (1280 x 720) and AMD C50 (+ Ati Radeon HD 6250 GPU). We cannot be more clearer. Wink.
September 10, 2011
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