Thursday, February 28, 2008

Considering a laptop for your child? Consider the Asus Eee PC

About three months ago we purchased a $399 Eee PC from Asus. I blogged about this device back in December not too long after we received it. Several 8th grade students served as evaluators and trailed this device for several weeks at a time. A few wrote reviews, and those can be read here. One of our 8th grade student testers did an audio review with me a few weeks ago and you may listen to our conversation about the Eee PC online here.

The Eee PC is a super small, rugged and light weight computer that has more power than many desktop computer manufactured just a few years ago! If you are considering a laptop computer for your son or daughter, then you might want to take a look at the eeePC.

Here are some of the pros and cons of this device:

  • The price point can't be beat! This computer costs less than some cell phones!
  • Super small and highly portable computer.
  • Integrated WiFi-the wireless is really easy to setup on a home wireless network.
  • Excellent preloaded software package. It has a built in word processor, Skype for audio/video/chat, and many other useful software titles that our student test pilots have enjoyed (students have enjoyed the games piece quite a bit). You really don't need to buy ANY software for this computer initially. It has most everything a student user will need.
  • The laptop has a build in web camera and microphone for multimedia projects and applications.
  • For being so small, the device is surprisingly fast. The software runs smoothly and is quite snappy.
  • The operating system is Linux, but it looks and performs very much like Apple operating system or even windows. It is very easy to use and figure out. Our student testers received no pointers on using the device at all-they reported that is was quite easy to learn how to use the computer on their own.
  • The keyboard is small, but the student evaluators reported that they get used to it quite quickly.
  • Student evaluators reported that the clicker and trackpad were both kind of quirky. Some of the evaluators used it with a mouse and said this modification worked great.
  • The screen size is 7 inches, which means that surfing web pages will require more scrolling bother vertically AND horizontally.
  • Don't expect the Eee PC to do every last thing that a full sized MacBook can do. It isn't going to be able to edit video or store a great deal of data like photos and audio.
I've been pretty impressed with the capacity of this computer . When you consider the speed of this computer, the pre-loaded software, the WiFi capabilities, the other hardware features, and the price point, it is an attractive option for a low cost computer. There are rumors floating around that Asus will be releasing a new model in the future with a slightly larger 10" display, so this might be something to consider as well. If you end up purchasing one for your family, please let me know how you like it!

**Photo courtesy of SlipStreamJC on flickr. Photo is in the Creative Commons attribute non-commerical.

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