Eee! Eee! Eee!
November 27, 2007 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Anybody using the Eee PC? Thoughts?

Searching for Ask MEees, I see that a couple of people were waiting for them to arrive.

So... what do you think? The main reason I really want to get one is for writing. Is the keyboard too cramped, do you think? Other impressions?
posted by papercake to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have no first hand experience, but I'm told that they keyboard is quite small and works better with two-fingered 'hunt and peck' keyboarding than with touch typing.
posted by jjb at 8:35 AM on November 27, 2007

I have one and can't imagine someone touch typing on it for very long. Even hunting and pecking bothers me after awhile. But I don't like laptop keyboards in general. Most people don't seem to have an issue. Also, the layout is slightly nonstandard and takes a little bit of adjusting to. These are the definitive forums for the machine which you will want to have a look at.

Overall, it is well built and nicely designed and everyone who has seen it wants one, especially when I tell them the price.
posted by euphorb at 9:04 AM on November 27, 2007

I just got mine yesterday! Right now I've got a bluetooth wireless keyboard plugged in (via USB bluetooth dongle). Recognized without a hitch, so I can give my hands a break. It works well at home, but I'm probably not going to bring a second keyboard with me when I go elsewhere. I'm getting pretty used to the built in keyboard, but I wouldn't want to type on it for extended periods of time just yet.
posted by lou at 9:28 AM on November 27, 2007

Writing- not so much. Think of it as a PDA plus, not a desktop minus. My favorite thing about it is the short boot time (around 30 seconds in Full Desktop mode, less in "easy" mode).
posted by djb at 9:39 AM on November 27, 2007

Hunt and peck? One does two finger hunt and peck on a zipit maybe, but I'm 6'1" male and have slightly above average handsize. I got my Eee on Friday the 23rd of this month, and by saturday I was able to type on the keyboard at night without light.

However, the first hour at the keyboard sucked; the lower right keyboard has the up arrow inbetween the / and right shift key. Trying to frequently use ':''s in vim was driving me batty, and I figured I was likely to remap the keyboard. After a bit of conscious effort (and installing gtypist and doing some speed drills), I'm now happy with the default layout.

I use my eee mainly for ssh access to home/work machines, as well as email and im/irc. So I'm not sitting down and doing hours of just writing, but lots of intermittent bursts. However, I think that I could write for a long term.

Ms. nobeagle fell in love with my eee, and decided to get her own on saturday the 24th (despite my trying to convince her that we could share mine). By Sunday, she was cursing while trying to type at night with the lights off, but earlier in the day she mostly used her desktop, while I only used my eee. During weekdays, I'm sysadmin and type on a real keyboard, but last night at home going back to the eee didn't have me re-fight the learning curve.

Honestly, I think that if you pledge one weekend to only use the eee, by Sunday you won't have any issues.

I'm having fun tweaking mine; the wireless is good enough that even on the 2nd floor of the house I can watch raw mpeg from the sat, and encoded xvid is a breeze. Currently the tweaking is just related to forcing it to be multi-user, and changing my vtwm configs. I tried using the advanced mode defaults, but a start button? I just can't get along with that. Ms. nobeagle uses both winXP and stock fedora, and she doesn't have any issues with the stock advanced mode of the eee. She tried to like simple mode, but couldn't get beyond 2-3 minutes before she asked me how to get out of that. Since, I've pointed her to the wiki on and I haven't had to do anything to her eee, beyond making some scripts so she can use sshfs to get access to the home filestores.

On preview: bluetooth keyboards, as well as usb keyboards could also solve the typing issue, but I still recommend forcing oneself onto the keyboard to avoid additional gear.
posted by nobeagle at 9:41 AM on November 27, 2007

Yeah, I wanted it for its portability — so light I can throw it in my bag (aka "man purse") and whip it out on the subway, in a café, etc. so another keyboard isn't really an option.

I'm going to need to find one to try out, I think, before buying. But they're so cheap it's tempting to just get one.
posted by papercake at 10:42 AM on November 27, 2007

Oh My God! I hadn't heard of these things before. Thank you!

Reminds me of my old Sharp Mobilon PV-5000. One example of the Handheld PC Pro standard Microsoft was licensing back around 1999 or so. I picked one up on a business trip in San Francisco and totally fell in love with it. Like this it was basically a solid state laptop, but with a lot less horsepower. 16 megs of RAM (!) and a little software slider on the control panel that would let you allocate it between system use and document storage.

It ran on Windows CE and was indeed more an overblown PDA than a stripped down laptop. But it had "lite" versions of word and a couple other office apps that I never used. It had a web browser, email, touchscreen and stylus and would happily sync to my desktop.

It was perfect for my needs. I wrote a whole book on the thing. I was a journalist at the time. I remember in early 2001 taking it to New York for a press junket thing, then sitting down in the lobby of the World Trade Center to bang out my article and hook up the modem at the business concierge desk to shoot my story back so it could make that day's deadline. Every other journalist I showed it to went apeshit. Quite a few went out and bought one of these, or the IBM version that looked like a tiny little thinkpad.

Ultimately, the fact that you couldn't really put any other software on them killed them in the corporate market they were aimed at, and they all died off. I kept my orphaned Sharp going as long as I could - even bought a second one on eBay as a backup. But eventually the batteries died, software upgrades kind of left it behind. When I changed PCs a couple years ago I had to sadly let it go. I mean really sadly too, I loved that thing.
posted by Naberius at 11:17 AM on November 27, 2007

I've put my eee purchase on hold until asus resolves the copyright issues with the software on the eee pc.

I'm also a bit worried that the 480-line-tall screen is too short to do "real" work such as web-browsing.

The tidbit about the funky keyboard layout is one I'll remember too.
posted by jepler at 11:45 AM on November 27, 2007

there's an on-again off-again 10-inch version which may sport a slightly bigger keyboard. I'm hoping they'll also cram a dvd-rom into that one (slim chance but one can dream). If they did that -- 10-incher with dvd-rom -- i'd buy one in a heartbeat. It would replace a bunch of other stuff i have (including my alphasmart and my personal dvd player). I hope they do that. But I dont think they realize yet how much of a potentially 'convergence' device this really is. As far as I know they arent planning to cram a dvd player into it for instance. What a pity.
posted by jak68 at 12:13 PM on November 27, 2007

I love mine. As others have said, the keyboard takes a little getting used to, but once you have it touch typing is not a problem.

Looking through the eeeuser forums, it looks like you shouldn't have trouble finding a place to try one out in NYC. There are reports that both RCS and J&R have them in store.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 12:24 PM on November 27, 2007

I've put my eee purchase on hold until asus resolves the copyright issues with the software on the eee pc.

Wasn't that cleared up already?
posted by vacapinta at 12:24 PM on November 27, 2007

tidbit: it saddens me that I knew about that, but still purchased last friday. I think I'm going to have to write asus a whiney email asking them to play right. Considering Busy Box'es legal history, hopefully Asus will get in line quickly with a bit of egg on their face.

Re: webrowsing, with firefox's "full fullscreen" plugin in fullscreen mode every single pixel is webpage. I configured firefox to start in fullscreen mode, and so far I don't have any complaints. It was a bit annoying before full fullscreen - metafilter still looked all right, but most photos on webpages seem to be about 640x480, so every bit of real estate helped. Ms nobeagle complained about gmail's display not being *wide* enough until she switched it to standard html only. Because my previous laptop required ~30 seconds to load gmail in firefox I'm still in the habit of hitting it through elinks myself.

There's a few windows that in stock kde full desktop mode in the control panel which are larger than the eee can display, as well some of the firefox preference menus are too large to get to all options. A window manager that gives good window movement (with stock wm, alt+click works) and then resizing it larger gets one to the options. It's an annoying work around, but I've only needed it a handful of times.

As one who dislikes most gui's, and one who's highest priority regarding additional software to install was 'screen', I might not be a valid data point for how often one has to fight the low vertical resolution.

Neberius - holy walk down memory lane. I believe the mobilon was what inspired the hole in me that's only recently been filled by the eee. I interviewed at the Empire in 1998, and one interviewer had a prototype handheld PC which my memory reports looked a lot like the Mobilon. I forgot the model number and interned in a different group. When the Zaurus came out, I lusted, but the price/specs weren't enough in my book. The zipit was too small, and the olpc first was toeing the line over whether or not they'd sell to 1st worlders, and when they finally agreed with the buy 1, give 1, the only thing holding me back was the not-quite full-featured x86 processor put the price-point in my head around $300. Then the eee came, and I've turned into one of those people who gushes.

on preview: vacapinta: wow, thanks for bringing that up. I'll have to look closer, but that's brightened my day.

jak68: to use it as a portable media player, maybe bite the bullet and get a decent sized sdhc card and abandon the dvd's? If one looks patiently, 1G usb sticks can be found surprisingly cheaply, and one will easily hold a reencoded movie. Both the ms. and I are planning on SDHC cards for our next purchase, so I guess the end price becomes $500ish.
posted by nobeagle at 12:49 PM on November 27, 2007

nobeagle - i'm still stuck on dvd's via my netflix account ;)
posted by jak68 at 1:30 AM on November 28, 2007

I've got fairly tiny fingers, but it didn't take me long to get used to the keyboard. I probably don't type quite as fast as I do on a regular sized keyboard, but it seems fine otherwise.

I love it by the way. Planning on doing some travelling, and I think it'll be the perfect companion.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:00 AM on November 28, 2007

jak68 - rip them with a desktop encode for later viewing. We've got in canada, and I had netflix back when I lived in the old country. They rarely end up sending a disk that you're *really* in the mood for, so the best use of their services involves time shifting the options they give you.
posted by nobeagle at 7:21 AM on November 28, 2007

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