So, that’s one aspect of performance dealt with, what of the rest? Well, we can happily report that the Atom processor performs admirably. Combined with the lean and mean Linux OS, performance is snappy and responsive. With 1GB of RAM in support you can even have two or three programs open at any one time and not encounter any major problems unless you want to watch video, in which case it’s best to close other programs – particularly memory heavy apps like Firefox and OpenOffice.
As with the MSI Wind, Asus has also adopted a CPU throttling scheme that it is calling Super Hybrid Engine – catchy, eh? It has three performance modes, Power Saver, High Performance and Super Performance. When left to its own devices the system will activate the Power Saver mode, which clocks the CPU down to 1.2GHz, when unplugged and activate the standard clocked 1.6GHz ‘High’ Performance mode when plugged in.
You then have the option to switch up to the Super Performance mode to gain an extra 200MHz, moving up to 1.8GHz. This might be handy for those moments when you’re doing something unusually demanding, but the rest of the time you probably won’t need this mode and it does mean the system runs warmer and more noisily.
Further praise must also be heaped on the Eee’s custom Xandros Linux OS and the comprehensiveness of the pre-installed software. As an interface it’s effortlessly intuitive and once you know where everything is, nothing important is ever more than a couple of clicks away. As for the software itself, practically every base is covered. Be it instant messaging, Skype, web browsing, productivity or media playback, there’s something on hand to get you going and updates are downloaded automatically. It’s particularly refreshing to see Firefox add-ons installed as standard, with handy quick zooming and preview pane functions joining full support for the various web based media players.
Bizarrely, we’ve also come to rather like the voice activation application installed on Linux. When running it you press F10 and then launch programs, or even websites, simply by saying its name. It works surprisingly well, even if the recorded instructions are a tad annoying. Another useful addition is the YOStore online storage, which enables you to store up to 20GB of data online – useful if you’re using the Eee as a second laptop, as many will.
Overall, though XP remains an interesting option for the “power user”, many should and will find what’s already on offer just perfect. Obviously the Linux OS is faster than XP, particularly at boot-up and shutdown, but the simplicity of it all is also very appealing and with the extra storage you get from sticking with Linux, this is definitely the version we’d recommend – you can always install XP yourself after all.