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The Eee PC1025CE – Fastest Netbook in Cullercoats?

Review of Asus Eee PC 1025CE

Bought: 5th July 2012
Supplier: PC World, North Shields (No, Really!)
Price: £229.00 (that’s GBP)
Sales assistant: Patient and well-informed (a surprise given previous experiences at PC World)

Out of box experience:
Dismay at worthless ‘user manual’, but plugged in charger and switched it on.
Confusion and frustration as W7 setup rumbled on, expecting mouse movements, when only touchpad available, for which use I was clueless and no user instructions. There IS a proper User manual, ONCE you have got the OS installed and running, and this is too late to help with installation. I regard this as nothing short of shocking – at least a few words regarding use of the touchpad should be included in the small rag of paper supplied with the machine.

After W7 setup had sucked out my eyeballs, with all the startup info, it went off into a very long……… initialisation period, with only the odd flicker of the hard disk light to comfort me anything was happening at all. Again, warning regarding this longish wait should have been given.

Once W7 was properly installed, I selected the fast start option, reset the machine, and after ascertaining that all was OK, put the lid down, and went for a rest, leaving the battery to charge fully.

(zzzzzz…zzzz)

Well, it’s several hours later, and the rest of my initial setup of the machine has gone without a single hitch.
First of all, I plugged in a USB mouse, which installed immediately without fuss. I then plugged in an ethernet patch lead, connected to my home network switch. Again W7 set up my network without incident.
Using Internet Explorer, I downloaded and installed Google Chrome, connected to my gmail account, and made Chrome my default browser.
I located a share on my desktop containing start-up HTML files to connect to WordPress, and this stuff I’m writing now is flowing with relative ease from a keyboard I already like very much.
Section ended @ 17:35 GMT Thursday 5th July

Friday 6th July @ 12:07 GMT
A little later yesterday, I installed MSE and OpenOffice.org. A visual reminder that my Blog pages are very wide was given when I previewed the post on my website, a lot of graphics and photos I display are far too big for the screen format of machines like the netbook. In this respect I will try to do better, perhaps shrinking stuff a bit more, and providing click-links for those who want/need a bigger picture.

I also copied a boat-load of fancy fonts from my desktop, again no problems were apparent of the type I experienced with Vista.

The speed of this little machine is astonishing, I’m used to waiting a long while as my most-used desktop PC grunts into life.
I inserted an SD card containing WAV audio and had a laugh at the very squeaky, low-volume result. My deafness prevents this default ‘audio’ from being of any use, as regards listening to music or Internet Radio. I followed this by copying audio files onto the resident hard disk, and adding these to the media player library. All of this went off without a hitch, despite my newness to W7.
Later, I connected the machine to an external amplifier – the sound is superb.
I also corrected the Timezone and Time settings – I had given up in frustration during initial setup because of the Touchpad issues.
I see W7 has a classic ‘punish the user’ feature with this. Setting the Time, then setting the TimeZone changes the time……….
WTF isn’t there a warning/caveat on this confused and useless dialog?

I’m also not used to having my every attempt to install software questioned by an irritating and completely unnecessary alert – but this will be a familiar complaint to old W7 hands. It reminds me of all of the ‘Are you sure?’ prompts in DOS – they irritated me then also.
Microsoft have alienated so many power-users like myself with their OS offerings post XP, it is little wonder that there is still a huge number of XP users. Seeing W7, and latterly, W8 previews, have not convinced me that they offer anything more other than frustration due to the dumbed-down and patronising interface.

RealTek Madness
Another criticism is the stupid approach adopted when an audio plug is inserted in the machine. Despite previously indicating that I had connected ‘Speaker Out’, I have to re-tick this in the dialog every time. This is part of the RealTek driver – they need to go into the barn and find their ‘thinking’ head, ala Worzel Gummidge, and when they have, simply accept that the user knows what he is doing and what he had done. This stupid dialog requires re-selecting the type of device, clicking OK, then closing the RealTek manager which has been opened for some reason. Completely unnecessary, frustrating and time-wasting. A small ‘information’ bar should be displayed when a plug is re-inserted, advising the user what the ‘current’ use of the socket is, and then simply fading from view by itself.
As for the information bar appearing when I unplug the audio? Being told I’ve just done so serves only one purpose – to question why I did, and this simply annoys me.

Wireless Network
The machine detected 5 networks near to me, and also detected my old SNA6500 ADSL Bridge Router when I turned it on (I now use Cable), so no problems are anticipated with this.

Irritating noisy screen-saver!
Moving to the default screen-saver. I’d have been happy with this, but it plays irritating music when activated!
When I looked at the screen-saver settings I couldn’t find an option to turn off this sound, so I simply disabled the screen-saver.

HDMI
Coaxing the machine to display via the HDMI output was a lengthy and largely frustrating experience. In the end I achieved this, but to be honest, can’t tell exactly what I did. A complete lack of documentation is at fault again here. Once connected, the output to the external 42 inch TV was excellent.

I may add more to this account, but for now I will summarise my experience with some stars, a score of 0 to 10, and a comment.

Technical Achievement ********** 10 If you are looking for a fast-launch netbook, that is really a high-spec laptop with a small screen, look no further. This is as fast as the likes of ChromeBook and has many more features.
Out Of The Box Experience * 1 Frustrating and irritating due wholly to complete lack of any useful information.
Surfing Experience ******** 8 Fast and responsive, but ditch Internet Explorer and load up something that doesn’t shove Bing in your face.
On-board Sound ** 2 Pathetic. Hard-of-hearing folks will need an amplifier or headphones.
Screen ********* 9 Surprisingly good.
External HDMI ******** 8 Great – once you get it working.
Operating System ** 2 (Well, what did you expect? IMHO Microsoft haven’t done a decent OS since NT/XP)

Conclusion
Should you buy one? An unequivocal Yes! Despite being let down by appalling lack of documentation, the machine is technically superior to anything else I’ve looked at for the price. Go online (with your existing PC) and download the proper User Manual from the Asus website before you do the setup. You won’t regret it.

http://cullercoats.joebrown.org.uk/#56

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