Connectivity on the Asus Eee PC X101CH is an improvement over most previous-generation netbooks. On the left we have the tiny power jack, USB 2.0 port, VGA and HDMI for video, and an SDXC memory card reader. The front houses a set of indicator LEDs which are visible with the laptop closed.
On the right you’ll find a 3.5mm combined headphone/microphone jack, second USB 2.0 port, and the Gigabit Ethernet port. As we’re seeing on ever more ultraportables these days, like the Samsung Series 5 530U4B, to fit the Ethernet port into a chassis this slim it has flip-down bottom section. Wireless is handled by Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0.
Usability is pretty decent. Asus hasn’t significantly changed its netbook keyboards in quite some time, and while the X101CH is generally comfortable to type on with reasonably crisp keys, there are a few niggles. Primarily, the shift keys are on the small side, so it’s too easy to press cursor-up rather than right-shift.
The touchpad sports the same textured surface as the netbook’s lid and keyboard surround, and despite its small size is very responsive. Its buttons are incorporated into a single chromed rocker bar, but with a tiny dead zone this is not an issue.
This Eee PC’s 10.1in screen is pretty average netbook fare, though we’re happy to see that Asus has gone for a matt finish. The resolution is our main sticking point, as it’s the classic 1,024 x 600 we love to hate. It’s surprising just how less usable this is than the laptop standard of 1,366 x 768, meaning you’ll need to scroll a lot more on everything from web pages to documents.
On the other hand, as these cheap and cheerful displays go, the X101CH’s is actually one of the better examples. Backlighting is nice and even, while horizontal viewing angles are decent – though vertically they’re as poor as ever, so make sure to position the screen at the right incline. Black levels are also slightly above average, with only the darkest two shades being indistinguishable. In other words, it’s adequate for movies and entertainment.
Audio is even better, as the mono speaker provides a decent amount of clarity and depth despite its inevitably tinny bass. It’s not a patch on the Toshiba NB550D’s efforts, but nonetheles headphones are not required.