The one obvious omission here is any kind of optical drive, which means you’ll have to use a USB drive if you want to watch a DVD or install a program. Also, some people may want an additional video input so the screen can be used like a conventional monitor but, like the X50, this is not an option.
Back to the front and there’s a webcam incorporated in the centre of the top part of the bezel. It comes with some very fancy software that lets you apply all sorts of weird and wonderful effects to your image. However, with a resolution of only 320 x 240 pixels, it fails at that most basic remit of providing a half decent image. Arguably it’s still useable but it’s noticeably poorer than most and we struggle to believe that a decent webcam would have added considerably to the Eee Top’s overall cost.
More impressive are the speakers that sit below the screen. They’re by no means audiophile quality, with a distinct lack of bass being their biggest problem, but they provide an adequate level of volume to fill a kitchen or small living room and far surpass those of the Shuttle X50 or most laptops.
Although it features a touchscreen, the Eee Top still ships with a mouse and keyboard for those occasions when you need to type more than just a web address or an instant message. The keyboard uses full size keys but lacks a number pad and the cursor keys and PgUp/PgDn/etc keys are all bunched up on the right hand side. Despite this, it’s still a very comfortable and easy to use keyboard with a key action that is shallow but features a nice positive break. It also houses a stylus, though our review unit was missing its one so we can’t vouch for how good this was.
The mouse, meanwhile, is smaller than your average rodent and features a very short cable. There is method to this, though; the mouse is designed to be plugged into the USB port hidden under the right side of the keyboard – Apple style. As well as being small, it’s ambidextrous so can feel a little odd to those of us accustomed to larger ergonomic mice. Nonetheless, it’s perfectly decent in terms of performance and incorporates a notched scroll wheel with middle click button.
Moving onto the Asus Eee Top’s pièce de résistance, we must admit to being impressed by the image quality of its touchsceen. Even though it has a slight milky finish due to the touch element of the screen, its backlighting is even, viewing angles impressive, colours bright and vivid, and sharpness perfectly acceptable. Colour accuracy is quite poor, though, with evident dithering and some distinct green and red tinges appearing in Displaymate’s grey scale tests, so this won’t be a device you’ll want to edit images on, for instance.
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