Review: A day with Asus’ Eee Top

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+ Small footprint, suprisingly stylish
+ 1366 x 768 Touchscreen works well
+ Custom Opera browser designed to be touch-surfed
+ Affordable

+ Fanless, silent.
+ Perfect for a kid’s bedroom

- Nettop performance not top of class
- No optical drive or TV Tuner
- Would make a poor main machine

Asus’ Eee Top is a suprise: a cute all-in-one with a great touchscreen and an equally great price. At just $600, it’s little more than half the price of HP’s cheapest TouchSmart.

Yes, the 15.6″ screen is small, and performance isn’t stellar––it’s a desktop version of a popular line of netbooks, after all–but it makes a neat second computer for the kitchen or a kid’s bedroom. Inside is a 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. It weighs 9 pounds and has a webcam, an SD/SDHC card reader, ethernet, WiFi, and a generous five USB ports. The ambient blue light at the bottom can be dimmed or turned off, and there was no audible fan noise.

It even looks nice, with an understated but classy design (in white or black) and matching keyboard and mouse. It also comes with a chunky stylus for getting at small icons.

Eee Top runs Windows XP, and has a nicely-designed touchscreen menu/nav program to make it easy to jump to the included apps and games. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem possible to customize it. Included are a selection of Eee-branded apps and games, such as Eee Cinema for watching movies, Eee Cam for recording and dressing up webcam input, and Eee Memo, for taking handwritten notes. The best of them is a custom edition of Opera, designed with touchscreen browsing in mind.

A few changes would be nice. There’s no optical drive (Asus will soon offer a matching USB external as an optional upgrade), and I often found myself wishing it had a TV tuner. A larger, more powerful version would also be welcome.

Given its obvious limitations, I’m not going to knock the Eee Top: it’s perfect for a dozen niche roles, from the office’s reception desk to your offspring’s lair. Just don’t replace your main machine with it, O.K.?

Product Page [Amazon]

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com

 

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17 Responses to Review: A day with Asus’ Eee Top

  1. dculberson says:

    Want! So close to being a totally affordable “kitchen machine,” but just slightly too expensive for me… (for that purpose, at least.)

    Really cool machine, though, for the price, and an excellent sign of things to come. Intel/MS should not be scared of these, as I can see four-five of them in an upper middle class household. This sort of device is the “TV in every room” of the 2010’s.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We just got some of these in the shop today and I’ve been playing around with one…

    It’s kinda neat… The touchscreen is responsive in mspaint, though not in any of the bundled EEE programs, it’s choppy and your writing comes out blocky and illegible. I could see there being uses for this, (we supply a local point-of-sale company who we expect will like these for cash registers etc), though for any normal and sane person it’s really far too slow to be useful for much.

  3. Rob Beschizza says:

    I actually had this in my kitchen for a few days while it was being tested. If it had a TV Tuner, I would have called Asus on day 1 to get an invoice sent.

    As it is, though, $600 is just a little too expensive just to have it there without a specific purpose. It needs a niche … and it does fill a lot of niches.

  4. Itsumishi says:

    Is anyone else reminded of the original iMac fruity designs from this front on shot?

  5. stratosfyr says:

    On the minus side, 1.6 GHz is pretty slow for a computer that isn’t running on batteries these days. My five-year-old desktop is 2.4 GHz. No real excuse for that.

    On the plus side, a USB TV tuner is very easy to add.

  6. Rob Beschizza says:

    Cheap running matters, though. I’m pretty sure my current desktop, which has power management problems and won’t sleep, is costing me a good $10 a month.

  7. danbanana says:

    rob, thanks for the write-up on this. the moment i saw this thing when it was announced, i thought, “that’d be perfect for mom.” she’s a technophobe who’s biggest hang-up with computers seems to be the mouse. is the touchscreen useful enough to do most day-to-day things (email, web) without complimenting them with a mouse? i really would like to splurge and get this for her, but i’m afraid that it won’t be simple enough for her to feel comfortable with.

  8. scruss says:

    Hey, the 3Com Audrey rides again!

  9. Anonymous says:

    “On the minus side, 1.6 GHz is pretty slow for a computer that isn’t running on batteries these days.”

    FWIW, Asus says the next Eee Top will have a battery in it.

  10. GeorgyH says:

    I have bought and installed this computer for my elderly parents. Though the opening of programmes is slow (I am a macbook pro user), the touchscreen capability is brilliant for someone who finds using a mouse difficult. Likewise easy mode is really helpful, especially when the computer is mostly used for email and word processing. My kids love it too. Not a computer for the technocracy but great for people who find technology difficult and do not want to spend a fortune.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So how about running OS X on it? Apple is now offering a touch-screen driver on their drivers dowload page!

  12. Auto Parts for Brains says:

    Looking at it from the front, it reminds me of the colorful Macs.

  13. Rob Beschizza says:

    Thanks, chaps.

    Yes, this is a great momputer, though I’d still take a refurb iMac over it (just $200 more) so sntivirus and such never becomes a hassle.

  14. Rob Beschizza says:

    I had no problems with the LCD on mine, though it wasn’t a particularly good one. Just didn’t find it bad enough to worth mentioning.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this review.

    Display quality is a big issue for this device: the screen looks very milky, maybe due to the touchscreen. It’s IMO one of the worst LCD I came across! I wonder why no review mentions this…

  16. matt_w says:

    this would be the perfect machine to get for my mum and little brother/sister who havent used a pc before. its not like they will be laying crysis on it anyway.

    i think that’s the market they are trying to go after.

  17. Drhaggis says:

    I really like the summary call-out boxes for these reviews. Keep up the excellent work. I’m still looking for a netbook myself but if the trend continues, the right one for me should come out soon.

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