A closer look: Eee PC 901

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Asus shows that a funny name doesn’t make something a funny product. The Eee PC netbook offers style, battery life and performance for the ultraportable crowd, at a price anyone can afford.


The Eee PC 901 has a few claims to fame that other netbooks don’t, such as battery life near 8 hours and a solid, quality construction. While the display may be a little on the small side, the resolution offered should prove good enough for most Web-based applications and general Web surfing. The integrated Web cam lends itself well to Skype video phone duties, or just capturing video in general.

The unit comes with Windows XP preinstalled and leverages that operating system quite well. Preinstalled applications include Skype, StarOffice 8, Microsoft Works and FireFox. Users will also find a few other utilities, such as Intervideo WinDVD player and Windows Live Mail. Worth noting is Asus’s "superhybrid engine" a utility that provides three GUI modes to easily adjust CPU frequency, voltage, and LCD brightness to minimize system noise and power consumption. Users can use the utility to reduce power consumption by as much as 15 percent or to maximize system performance according to individual needs.

Performance-wise, the Eee PC 901 mustered an acceptable Passmark Rating of 159.9 while set for maximum performance. The Passmark score dropped to 141.8 once all the unit’s power-saving features were all turned on.

Most users will quickly get used to the small keyboard and sensitive touch pad, but those with large fingers should expect to be frustrated until they spend a bit of time with the unit. The display proves to be bright and crisp and easy on the eyes, although the native resolution is just 1024-by-600, a small dot pitch is needed to cram that resolution onto the 8.9-inch TFT. That helps to make images sharp, but for those with trouble seeing smaller items, text and images may be a little too small for comfort.

The unit features a pair of small stereo speakers integrated into the front, which offer surprisingly good sound, clear and loud enough for most environments. The use of an SSD hard drive helps improve speed and reliability, but storage space is severely limited, leaving only about five or six gigabytes available for storing documents, videos and photos. Luckily, the unit offers three USB ports, so external storage can readily be used. The unit’s integrated Wi-Fi offers decent range and was able to connect to a variety of access points with no difficulties. Bluetooth offered equal ease of use and reliability. The Eee PC 901 also offers a 10/100 Ethernet connection, which worked flawlessly with a wired network.

All of those communication features add up to the ability to be readily connected to the Web and that is one area where devices like the Eee PC 901 will shine. With fast connections to the Web, most of a user’s applications can be offered via hosted services, such as Google apps, salesforce.com and so on, and that may very well be the sweet spot for netbooks in general and the Asus Eee PC 901 in particular.

For solution providers, hosted applications may be the business model to pursue when selling netbooks such as the Asus Eee PC 901. The idea would be to use the portability and low cost of the device to replace traditional desktop or notebook systems and then sell the services and solutions that help a company move over to AJAX, Web 2.0, SAAS and other hosted technologies.

Compared to a ThinkPad T series, the Eee is indeed tiny!


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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