Asus Eee PC review for writers

I’ve been contemplating a netbook for a while. For the last ten years I’ve been a Mac person, having gone through two iBooks and a MacBook, as well as an old iMac and a new iMac. After leaving my job as a copywriter, the MacBook started feeling a little too big for me. Aside from GarageBand, there’s nothing on it that requires much in the way of graphics or memory. I write, I surf the web, period.

So when I saw an Asus Eee PC at Best Buy a few weeks ago for $199, I got very curious. I mean, for the price? That’s nuts. I fiddled with the model, and decided to take it home.

Cute, white, Linux. Yes.

However. As any forum will tell you, the 900 4G model is pretty much broken out of the box. It works at first, but if you try to install any system updates, the whole computer basically implodes. The pre-installed version of Linux basically takes up everything but a sliver of space. Go geniuses at Asus.

According to some of the forums I read, Asus was upset with the rate of return on this particular model, and therefore lots of managers at BB are slashing the prices, in hopes to move the stock. But, you can’t play it out of the box.I mean, the trackpad won’t even work properly!

So, we snagged a copy of Ubuntu, and reinstalled and… lo and behold. I have the coolest little netbook on the block!

A caveat, though. Typing is not as easy. Definitely takes some getting used to. And, I’ve yet to really fall in love with text edit, GoogleDocs, or Ooo. I tend to write in GoogleDocs, though, and send it over to Scrivener on the husband’s MacBook. Because, frankly, Scrivener helps me organize in ways that no other program can. But it’s definitely on a large scale. For day to day writing, GD or text is fine.

The best part is that Tyrol (the netbook) can go anywhere. While cartrips were nearly impossible with the big MacBook screen, I can actually plug this baby into the lighter spot, and go indefinitely. It also fits in my purse. My purse! And while, at first, the connectivity seemed an issue, this has apparently resolved.

It’s not perfect. It’s slow sometimes, and cranky. But I’m not looking for perfection. I’m looking for a way to write, wherever I am. Not to mention with the sale of my MacBook I was able to pay for this computer and have cash to spare! Not bad in this day and age.

Overall, I say the computer gets a solid B. But if you aren’t willing to tinker with it, I don’t recommend it. It’s a great deal, though, for a budget conscious family, and with possible upgrades to the SSD, it could even be better!

Update: For the long term this little netbook was not a relationship made in heaven. The typing just never got easier. Or it did, but the wear on my fingers did not. The keyboard on the Eee makes the ; key a half key, and to use it, I have to turn my finger just so. The result? Cramps in the fingers for long-term writing.

If you’re looking for a comfortable keyboard and are a home-row typer, this is an issue and, in my case, something that can’t really be fixed. Unfortunately I’ll be eBaying Tyrol. 😦

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3 Comments on “Asus Eee PC review for writers

  1. I still can’t make my mind up on Netbooks. So far, the Samsung NC10 has the best keyboard I tried (better than Eee, by far), but I haven’t tried all models yet. I especially wish to check out an MSI Wind. The NC10 doesn’t come with a Linux option, and not all hardware is supported by Linux yet either, which is a huge disadvantage.

    How big is the PSU? How long does the battery last (and what is the capacity you have)?

    • @Nils I’m afraid I don’t know some of the specs (or, haha, where to find them… this is Linux for you). It’s got 4G altogether, which means that the OS takes up about 50%, while the original took up a whopping 90% (I will likely upgrade this in the future for performance reasons). It also has an SD slot, which is neat. Basically it’s a souped up PDA. Which is actually what I was looking for; I don’t need more than this honestly. I knew I couldn’t afford much more than this, and I’m quite happy. As far as the keyboard is concerned, I’m a gal. I have small hands and fingers. Mostly it’s just a matter of acclimating myself to it. Now when I go to type on the MacBook I feel like I’m in Giant Land. 🙂

  2. My Lenovo netbook shipment was delayed. I hope to get it by the end of the week, for Ubuntu install/partition and getting things situated. I’ll let you know what I think once it arrives.

    Tyrol is a great name, BTW.

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