This past week, our computer family grew by one.  You see, we bought one of those new ‘netbook’ class laptops — a brand new Asus Eee PC 901.

The 901 is a small laptop.  How small?  Well, it has a 9″ screen, and weighs in around 2.5 lbs.  It has one of those new Intel Atom CPUs, a dual-core CPU running at 800 MHz-1.6 GHz depending on what you’re doing.  Graphics are provided by the integrated Intel GMA 950 chipset.  It has a perfectly sufficient 1 GB RAM, which can be upgraded with standard laptop SODIMMs.  It comes with a 6-cell battery which means you’re going to get somewhere between 5 and 8 hours on a charge, again depending on what you’re doing.  It’s got both WiFi and Bluetooth built in.  It has no CD or DVD drive, and no hard drive.  It does have a 12 GB solid-state drive which means no moving parts, and extends the battery life.

You can get one preinstalled with either Windows XP (12 GB SSD) or with Linux (and a 20 GB SSD).  At the moment, however, you can only buy the Windows XP version.

It has a built-in 1.3 megapixel web cam, a microphone, speakers (as well as mic + headset jacks), VGA output, an SDHC reader, and 3 … count’em *3* USB ports.

In short, it is a diminutive but fully functional and fully capable laptop.

We got it because with Gwen’s new blogging gig, our ‘old’ laptop has effectively become hers.  So this one becomes effectively mine, plus it’s portable enough to bring to parks, coffee shops, etc.  Plus, it’s the ultimate geocaching companion.  I’ve already installed GSAK and MS Streets and Trips.  We have a USB GPS that works great with MS S&T, plus our Garmin Etrex Vista CX.  With the inverter that we have, it’ll make an easy road trip accessory.

After a few days of using it, it’s lived up to all my expectations.  I’ve adjusted to the tiny keyboard, and am able to touch type on it now without too many problems.  Mind you, I won’t be writing any theses with it, but this blog post is going ok! :)  The biggest issue with the keyboard is that the number row is shifted one key to the left, so I’m often typing 2 when I mean to type 1.  The speakers are awful, but functional.  The wifi works as expected.  I haven’t tried the Bluetooth.  The 12 GB storage seems small, but is more than sufficient for what we’re doing with it.  The CPU seems to work just as good as the Core 2 Duo in our Dell laptop.  I can stream avi’s from our media server like nobody’s business.  The battery life doesn’t disappoint.  The screen is bright and sharp.  It’s a little bit wonk with a wide-screen resolution of 1024×600 (usually it’s 1024×800) which means that reading web pages means a lot of vertical scrolling.

The biggest complaint I have is the touchpad.  It sometimes seems too sensitive and sometimes not sensitive enough.  As I’m typing my thumbs occasionally brush it and suddenly the cursor is somewhere unexpected.  Clicking on buttons, however, seems to require pounding instead of clicking.

Now, I just need to keep it away from Aidan…