Asus pushed the envelope with netbooks a few years ago, launching the EEE series to much success. Then came tablets and Chromebooks, taking away the focus from netbooks. With the EEEBook X205, Asus is aggressively taking the fight back. But does the world still need a low-cost Windows laptop?
What’s the difference between the EEEBook and a Chromebook? Put simply, a Chromebook runs on a custom operating system made by Google called Chrome OS, primarily meant for use while you are online. The EEEBook runs on Windows 8.1. That’s right, you get good old Windows. It’s not a stripped down version of Windows, it doesn’t restrict which programs you can install, and it will get a free upgrade to Windows 10. The EEEBook X205 is among the cheapest and most complete Windows laptops you can get right now.
The EEEBook X205 won’t let you play the latest games or edit videos smoothly. The Atom processor isn’t capable of that. However, you can browse the Web like you normally would without hiccups. You can multitask with ease. You can watch HD videos without it stuttering. You can use the full Microsoft Office suite (preloaded with a one year subscription) like on any other laptop and not face a problem. You can even play some non-heavy games like TrackMania without an issue.
What’s better about this compared to a tablet? A tablet is primarily a “consumption device”—you read emails (and reply to some), you check your social networks, you watch some videos, and so on. The EEEBook is primarily a work device. You use it to get things done, to work on presentations, to write that long angry email to your boss.
In other words, the keyboard is what makes it different and a lot more useful. And it’s a fine keyboard, much better than what you get on hybrid Windows devices in this price range. However, while the trackpad is generally fine, it is inconsistent with multi-touch input— you’ll be using two fingers to scroll one minute, and it’ll stop working the next.
Why should you buy this over a regular laptop? Two factors: price and portability. Let’s be very clear: the EEEBook X205 isn’t meant to be your main computer. It’s a secondary PC. It’s the laptop you take along with you on a business trip because it’s cheap, it’s light and it lasts a long time.
The EEEBook’s battery life blew away most Windows laptops we have tested in the recent past. It plays videos for just about 4 hours continuously, and it easily lasts for 8 hours of normal usage. Plus, it’s incredibly light. It actually is as light as an 11-inch MacBook Air. Yes, the cheap plastic helps, but again, this isn’t meant to be your main rugged machine. It’s the thing you quickly drop into your bag and sling it over your shoulder at a moment’s notice.
There is one problem with it though. For some reason, Asus has decided to make a proprietary charging port, which looks so similar to a microUSB port that they could have probably gone with microUSB. The Chromebook’s big advantage is that it uses microUSB, so you don’t need to haul around a separate cable apart from your phone. No such luck with the EEEBook. Fix this, Asus!
So wait, who is the EEEBook right for? The EEEBook is the second computer for students and professionals. If your home has one PC shared by the whole family and you need a second one, then the EEEBook is good enough for the college student or the working parent. There is one caveat though: you should be a part of a Windows family, not Mac or Linux.
* Display: 11.6-inch TFT screen
* Processor: 1.3 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Baytrail Z3735 processor
* Memory & storage: 2 GB DDR3 RAM, 32 GB internal memory
* Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, micro HDMI ports
* Operating system: Windows 8.1 (upgradable to Windows 10)
* Microsoft Office 1 year subscription
Estimated street price: Rs 14,999