I’ve had the Eee PC (701) now for a few months and have been using it as my primary machine whilst away and my secondary machine at home.

I must admit I’ve had a few issues with it. I’ve had to return it to factory defaults (keep hitting F9 at start up) about 5 times, all down to the fact that I got irritated by the basic set up and tried to install new and wonderful applications and advanced user interfaces. Fortunately all my files and documents are kept on the 8gb SD card slapped in the side, so I didn’t lose anything, but the re-install and then update of the system takes an hour or two – it can quite happily be done on the road – but if you want the updates you need a pretty hefty Internet Connection. I did manage to do it in Starbucks whilst away but it cost me about 20 GBP in coffee to sit there for two hours!

This has actually given me confidence in the kit, unlike most other laptop software setups, if it dies, you can just hammer F9 until it takes it back to the simple set up it came with out of the box – and to be frank – that’s enough to email, blog, skype, sort out my photos etc.

However, there is no way this machine can be used as your primary set up, I’ve had no luck sourcing a decent / simple video editor that has worked consistently, at least, no editor that can pull the DV files off my camcorder as they’re downloaded and then allow me to edit them (using MiniDV). You can combine about three bits of software to do this, but none of them are very good and you will end up getting very frustrated. The simple solution to this is to install Ubuntu and run a better application – combine this with buying a new SD based camcorder and you’d be laughing – of course – you’d need a little bigger internal memory too – the 4gb is quite limiting – even if you are just using it for the system and no actual file storage.

I’ve now had a good play with the new 900 units with a 20gb internal drive – much easier to install new apps and OS – the screen is much better, and it’s just more flexible all round. But at over 350gbp it’s into the territory of other probably better ultra light laptops, and frankly, whilst I can almost afford to lose 200gbp if the asus doesn’t stand up to the journey – 350gbp is somehow, more difficult.

If you accept it’s limitations in order to have a fantastically small, light, bomb proof machine; it’s worth it’s weight in gold. If you desperately need video editing, or advanced photo editing, it’s probably not for you, and perhaps you should have a look at the myriad of new ultra portables (for a little more cash) coming out of everyone from Apple to Dell.

There’s a good round up of the products available over at CNET

it’s a little out of date now and there are many more on the market – but it’s a good place to start.

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