Asus Eee Top ET1602: Stylish Package: Page 2

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Unfortunately, the ability to customize the Asus interface utilities is nil to non-existent. You can modify the Eee Bar, but since there are only eight buttons provided and they’re all used, you must delete one to add another of your own. You can't add or delete programs from Easy Mode at all.

To keep the Eee Top's screen fingerprint-free, the Eee Top includes a stylus which stows away in a hidey-hole within the keyboard. (Holding either your finger or the stylus in place for about two seconds lets you perform the equivalent of a mouse right-click.)

Asus is to be commended for not loading up the Eee Top with a ton of junkware. Most of the bundled software is actually useful, and although much is available for free (things like Adobe's Acrobat Reader, Skype, and the Opera Web browser) it at least saves you the trouble of having to download those items yourself. Asus also bundles Sun's StarOffice productivity suite, which is a $35 derivative of the free and open source OpenOffice.org software.

The Eee Top includes a handful of custom utilities, as well. A particularly handy one is Eee Memo, which lets you leave handwritten post-it style notes for other members of your household, and another is an on-screen keyboard (larger and more useful than the standard XP one) for times you'd rather tap keys than type. There's also a Webcam utility and Windows Media Center-like tool for audio, video, and photo viewing.

With its modest processor and meager amount of RAM, the Eee Top isn't cut out for heavy-duty computing--forget about gaming or editing your home movies on it. That said, it’s more than up to the task for basic connectivity and Internet-centric chores. We had no trouble with things like Web browsing, e-mail, IM, voice calls via Skype, or even placeshifting the living room TV by streaming standard-def video from a Slingbox. When we tried video calls with Skype, everything looked and sounded good on our end, but those we communicated with often complained of a low frame rate when viewing our video feed.

Overall, the Eee Top feels quick and responsive provided you're not trying to run more than a couple of programs at a time, otherwise the Eee Top's processor and memory ceilings become quickly apparent. (RAM isn’t expandable.)

Eee Top or desktop?

For the same $500 or so it will cost you take home an Eee Top, you can admittedly buy a low-end desktop and monitor equipped with a dual-core CPU, more RAM, a larger hard drive, and a DVD drive to boot. That PC will undoubtedly perform better than the Eee Top, but it will also be noisier and more power-hungry, take up a lot more space, and it won't include your niceties like a touch-screen or integrated Wi-Fi. Deciding between the Eee Top and $500 worth of full-size laptop is a tougher call, but the latter still won’t give you the touch screen or the aesthetics that the Eee Top delivers. Like the netbooks from which it spawned, the Eee Top comes with its share of compromises, and isn’t suitable as a primary PC. But if you need wireless Web connectivity and basic computing capability in a tight space--a kitchen, a bedroom—and value cool looks and touch-screen convenience, the Eee Top PC ET 1602 should be on your shopping list. 

Article courtesy of Wi-Fi Planet.

Tags: wireless, netbooks, asus

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