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I'd wanted a netbook for a while, to take out and about instead of my heavy laptop. I also wanted something to take home when I visit my parents: trying to carry a large laptop as well as other bits of luggage on a three-hour train journey isn't fun!
I couldn't find much choice available, but I was attracted by this ASUS X101CH-PUR019S Netbook in purple, which I saw at numerous stores, including Argos. However, I eventually chose to buy it from Currys PC World, partly for the relatively low price of £179.99, and partly because I was able to order it online and collect it from the store.
*Appearance and feel*
I was impressed with the netbook when I first saw it. It has a purple textured surface, the advantage of this being that unlike shiny surfaces, it doesn't get covered in fingerprints. The Asus logo is embossed in silver on the top. The netbook has a 10.1" screen and is less than 1kg in weight, making it ideal for transporting. I love how light it is and it barely adds any weight to my luggage at all. After several months of use, there are no marks at all on the netbook and it still looks like new. The keys and the frame of the screen are black.
*Setting it up*
I found the netbook very easy to set up. I had to charge it before use with the included plug, then follow the instructions included to turn the netbook on and install everything. This was very straightforward and I experienced no difficulties. It is recommended that you purchase a 16GB memory stick and back up your computer: I did this and found it very easy.
The specifications of the netbook are as follows:
* Intel® AtomTM N2600 processor
* Genuine Windows 7 Starter
* Hard drive: 320 GB
* Battery life: Up to 6 hours battery life
In practical terms, having Windows 7 Starter means a relatively basic operating system: you can't change the desktop picture, for example. However, I've found it to be adequate for my needs, especially considering that this isn't my main computer. The hard drive is impressive, larger than that of my (physically bigger) laptop, but the RAM is only 1GB. This means that the netbook can run very slowly when something is downloading or updating, or when I am trying to complete too many tasks at once. However, if I make the effort to download necessary programs when I do not need to use the laptop for another purpose, or try not to do too many things at once, I don't really have a problem. In fairness, I am used to slow computers as my laptop is over four years old: someone used to using superfast, modern PCs might have more of an issue!
I've found the battery life claim surprisingly accurate. 6 hours may be a slight exaggeration, but it is closer to the truth than a lot of similar claims about electronic products! When I'm watching downloaded TV shows I can normally get around 3 hours of battery life, when I am doing less onerous tasks I can often get over 5.
The wireless connection is easy to use: I just choose from the available networks and connect where I can. I haven't experienced any problems with the signal dropping or being unable to connect to an available network, and I am happy with Wi-Fi speed, although I suspect this has more to do with the Wi-Fi network than my netbook.
The netbook has a built in 0.3 MP webcam, but I can't comment on this as I've never used it. It also has two USB 2.0 ports which are sufficient for my use.
As well as the aforementioned Windows 7 Starter, the computer comes with some Asus-specific programs such as a web storage facility. However, I deleted this as I prefer to use Dropbox and Google Drive which are free to download and use in their basic form. I also downloaded a program called OpenOffice which has word processing, spreadsheet and database software. In fact, everything I've downloaded in terms of software is freely available on the web. I tend to store documents and photos in the cloud (via Dropbox), as I normally want to access my files from my home laptop and work computer as well as the netbook. However, the computer's hard drive is more than adequate if I DO need to use it, and I can also use a USB stick to save and transfer files.
*No disk drive*
As with most netbooks, this one doesn't have a disk drive. It's possible to buy separate drives which you can connect via a USB, but I haven't bothered. If I want to watch a DVD, I use my home computer or DVD player. As previously mentioned, I've been able to download the software I need via the Internet, so don't need to install anything via disc.
The biggest disadvantage of the netbook is that it is slow. As mentioned above, this can be an issue when trying to perform several tasks at once. This can be irritating, but it isn't a deal-breaker for me.
I love my little netbook and I am glad I made the purchase. It is light, easy to use and very handy especially when I am travelling. In general, the specifications are adequate for my needs although I have deducted a star because it can run slowly. Recommended - and the purple colour is a bonus!
You might be thinking, like I was, that a tablet is the way to go, and over looked what a netbook can offer. Netbooks such as the ASOS Eee offer you portability, great value for money, and the reassuring usability of a keyboard and a touchpad.
I was supplied with one of these little beauties as part of a training course, and after the 12 weeks, I was somewhat reluctant to hand it back!
The Eee doesn't offer anything new in terms of design.. the all black, with brushed metal finish doesnt look at all bad, but it certainly isnt "eye catching". The lid resists grubby fingerprints and stains and the interior follows the same design with the addition of a chrome silver click button beneath the touchpad.
Although small, the keyboard is the width of the machine, and after a few sentances you will be tapping away rather quickly - much easier than a touchpad!
The 10.1-inch screen can only manage a pixel resolution of 1,024 x 600. However, it's bright and detailed enough to entertain you with a movie, and more than ample for reading emails / documents etc whilst on the move- precisely what these machines are designed for! Whats more, the 354 minute battery life means no re-charging half way through your favourite film! Perfect for caravan holidays on a cold October night, snuggled under ample duvets with a nice rom-com and wine (not exactly what my manager had in mind for its lease, but I had to study right?!)
The 320gb hard drive is ample space for documents and files, as well as a fair few movie downloads. . There are 3 USB ports, HDMI and VGA connections as well as an Ethernet port in case you don't want to use the 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Whilst not a patch on what my nexus 7 has to offer, all in all this is perfectly capable of doing what it says, and in my opinion, is perfect for students, or professionals on the go!
As a student, my computer usage revolves around my basic needs of of checking my emails, going on various social networks such as facebook and twitter, writing a few essays on word, maybe making a PowerPoint presentation or two, and that's about it. For this, I don't need some £800+ super laptop with two hours of battery life, I need something extremely cheap, which can support my basic needs, while remaining durable with a long battery life. I knew, what I wanted was a netbook. I wanted to find one that was cheap, generic, and could run windows with little lag, and I stumbled across this netbook. I found out that this was used by various teachers as a staff netbook, and given to college-goers without laptops. I figured it would be cheap and generic enough, and after reading plenty of both negative and positive results I took the plunge and bought it.
As a spoiler, I got what I payed for, nothing more nothing less. It booted up at an average rate, I set it up, and my average desktop appeared at an average speed. I installed my everyday apps, they installed at an average rate, and ran quite well, but with the little RAM, it's hard to multitask. But, when it's not being overpowered, it runs well, at an average speed, with unnoticeable lag, unless, as I said, one is trying to multi-task.
Overall, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap, average, very everyday computer, and any student.