Ever since launching the first Atom-powered netbook, Asus' Eee brand has led the way in all manner of other Atom-based fields - if rumours are to be believed we will soon be seeing Eee-branded keyboards, phones, and even mirrors. For now, though, we're looking at a humble all-in-one touchscreen PC, the Asus Eee Top. Although we've already reviewed one of its competitors' machines, Shuttle's XVision X50, the Eee Top was actually the first of the Atom-powered all-in-one PCs to hit the market so it will be interesting to see how it holds up.
We have to admit the Eee Top didn't particularly excite us in the looks department. Sure, it might have some applications in the classroom but for the most part we see it being used as a second PC in the kitchen or living room, in which case the styling is a little bit too twee. Also, the fake plastic speaker grill just screams cheap. In this regard, the Shuttle XVision X50 definitely has the upperhand, despite quite clearly having taken 'inspiration' from the Eee Top's design.
Whether the styling is to your liking or not, the build quality should please all as the largely plastic chassis uses thick panels that feel strong and sturdy and didn't appear to pick up any scratches in the time we had it. We did notice a problem with the rubber strip that runs under the front of the machine, though. This is used to keep the PC from slipping - a task which it does admirably.
Unfortunately, when dragging the PC along our desk to adjust its positioning, this strip gripped the desk surface so well that it tore itself free slightly from the plastic stand. Luckily the glue used to hold the strip in place still had sufficient stickiness to reattach the strip, but this did happen on multiple occasions so could eventually lead to a permanent problem once the glue loses its effectiveness.
Round the back there's an adjustable stand for altering the angle of the screen while incorporated into the same mechanism is a carry handle. This is a less elegant solution than the one employed on the X50, where the stand flips round to double as a handle, but it is actually more practical in use.
Another more practical element is the positioning of the Eee Top's various connections. While the X50 had all but its VGA connection on its sides, the Eee Top keeps all but two USB ports and its multiformat (MMC, SD, SDHC, XD) card reader on the back where they're out of sight. Running from left to right we have a gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 2.0 ports, the power socket, microphone, line-in, and headphone jacks (that double as analogue surround sound outputs), a further USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock slot.