Eee PC ScreenBest Buy has started selling the Windows XP version of the Eee PC and I’m afraid I fell for it. Unlike Ficbot I am not willing to fool around with Linux – I want something useful out of the box with no learning curve. An XP box is also useful as I have pretty much converted to a Mac shop but at times Windows is essential. For example, my bank and insurance company will only accept logins from Internet Explorer, not Firefox or Safari. I have been running Parallels on my MacBook and it works pretty well, but it’s nice to have an easily accessible Windows machine sitting nearby.

The machine comes with 512K RAM and 4GB of internal memory. I added an extra 8GB SD card to hold more programs. Much to my surprise it is pretty speedy, even with the underclocked processor and the limited RAM. I have it connected to a spare 19″ Samsung LCD monitor and the display is crisp and clean. For some further shots you can take a look at my posting at GPSPassion. Here’s the link. In that posting I discuss how I loaded up some GPS software on the machine and how you can use it for on-road navigation. You’ll also see a shot of it connected to the Samsung monitor. The touchpad has been the subject of criticism in a number of reviews for being difficult to use. I, however, seem to have no problems with it at all. I also added one of those mice with a retractable cord.

The keyboard is pretty tiny but I think you could end up typing fairly quickly if you had enough practice. The WiFi reception is incredible. I get better reception than my wife’s Toshiba or IBM and it is as good, if not a bit better, than my MacBook. The Windows connection proceedure, however, makes you want to scream and tear your hair out after you have gotten used to the simple, quick Mac procedure. As a matter of fact, dealing with Windows on the machine validates my decision to switch to the Mac platform. Boy is Windows clunky compared to OSX!

Battery life is rated at 3.5 hours, but I haven’t tested it. I did leave it in standby mode all last night and overnight the battery went from 100% to 60%. The machine is light and it fits easily into my Tom Bihn Medium Cafe Bag (the best bag I’ve ever used) along with all my other stuff. Nicely, the power adapter isn’t a brick, but is a small transformer of the type usually used with mobile phones. Makes for lighter travel. Between the Eee and my iPhone I may not have to carry my MacBook around at all – provided I have no need for fast typing.

Now on to ebooks. One of the first things I did was download Mobipocket 6.2 and put it on the SD card. It runs fine and it is really neat to be able to download my books wirelessly from Fictionwise. Makes me see some of the attraction of the Kindle. I’ll be downloading eReader onto the machine tomorrow. The picture above is a photo of the screen running Mobipocket with Mobipocket’s default settings. The display isn’t as crisp as my iPhone, but it is certainly readable and I have no trouble reading ebooks if I just turn the brightness down. The main disadvantage is the battery life. I would not be using the Eee on a cross country plane trip because I don’t think the battery would last long enough. That is the place for my Sony Reader. In some ways the Eee is nicer than the Reader because it doesn’t require an external nightlight and I can rest it on my chest when lying down. I change pages by hitting the page up or page down key. The few DRMed Mobipocket books I bought years ago are still in the Mobipocket library and I downloaded them all to my machine for safekeeping.

So far I’m really pleased with the little guy and if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them in the Comments section below.

In response to a question here are shots taken in open shade and full sun. In real life, as opposed to pictures, the screen is actually more readable in open shade than the picture shows, while in full sun the screen is actually more washed out than shown in the picture. I can also report that I have used the machine to play a couple of TV shows in both Quicktime and AVI formats and they run just fine. The machine would make a nice little media player.




  1. Are you using Windows built in wireless management (generally pretty good) or something third-party that came with the wireless driver (always awful)?

    I ask because I’ve always thought that XP’s built in wireless was done right. Miles ahead of NetworkManager on Linux anyway. But that’s not saying much.

  2. Thanks for the review and I am now well and truly hooked! I used to have a Cassiopeia (with a massive 8mb storage!) back in the mid 90’s. It was the most useful thing I’ve ever owned, especially as an arm injury had made writing agonising at the time. With small hands and being a clarinet player the keyboard presented no problems – but very tall husband found them a bit of a challenge. (OK, so he can catch a football with one hand). I have been using a laptop as my only computer for a while, and I must admit it would be much easier to have a desktop model and one of the EEE’s to carry around. My lap top has become almost non-portable with external sound cards, speakers and a variety of “must have” audio things hanging off every USB port.

  3. Wow, you sure are more patient (gullible?) than I could be! If it were me I’d be looking for a new bank and insurance company. IE market share is down to 75-80% depending on who you ask. There is no excuse these days for *any* website to not be standards-compliant.

    My bank used to not support Firefox either, and I told them I’d be leaving if they didn’t. This was back in 2002! The next update of their website supported Firefox fully (in fact their website already did, it was the bill pay partner they used that didn’t at first).

    Look at it this way: you are paying your bank and insurance company your hard-earned money to ignore you as a customer! You shouldn’t have to run a 2nd computer to use their service. There are plenty of online banks and insurance companies, so vote with your feet and your wallet and then be sure to let them know why.

    My bank, First Internet Bank of Indiana (, has free checking with all the great online features you could imagine, including up to $6/month refund for using other banks’ ATMs! You have no reason to be loyal to companies that take you for granted.

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