More Eee PC impressions

By Christine Lemmer-Webber on Fri 21 March 2008

So, first post written from the Eee. As usual, I'm using ViewSourceWith with emacsclient to type it up.

There hasn't been a person whom I've shown it to today who hasn't been both impressed with (and jealous of) the device. I must say that it manages to fit expectations totally and completely... hardware-wise anyway.

Yes, the keyoard is still really small and feels pretty cramped. But I'm typing with both hands pretty well and with a fairly low margin of error. There actually are two problems I've been having with the keyboard, but they aren't the ones you'd expect. I end up pressing the enter key a lot when I actually intend to press the apostrophe key. Also, and this is what actually irritates me more than anything, the keyboard doesn't feel totally fastened on the right side very well. It sounds fairly springy when I type on that side in a way that it doesn't on the left. Does anyone else have this problem, I wonder? It's annoying me a lot, especially when I press the arrow keys. Maybe I'd feel less annoyed with it if someone confirmed that this was normal.

The resolution's pretty low, and the screen's pretty tiny. The next version of the device looks like it's going to improve on that greatly, though actually... it's still a lot nicer than I expected even in its present incarnation. You forget just how much of the web is still pretty doable at a tiny width of 800 pixels. Yes, Penny Arcade fits nice and snugly within the browser window, framed so close and perfectly that you'd almost think that maybe they designed their comics with this resolution in mind. And maybe they did. But probably not.

I'm actually rather surprised at how nice the speakers are, as I'm fairly certain they are quite better than my thinkpad's.

So, as for the hardware, its all pretty good excepting that keyboard springy noise, which is getting to me a little. Funny thing is that I had this same issue with another laptop I owned, and it irritated the hell out of me then, too. I'm not sure if this justifies a replacement. I'm thinking about it.

As for software, the version of Linux that's installed on here, some Xandros derivative (which is in turn a derivative of Debian), is pretty lame. Some people have actually complimented the desktop, but I think it's an irritation. Ubuntu, from all I've read, runs just fine on here, and I plan to install that shortly. But why install a stripped-down Linux in the first place? I've found that Ubuntu is really easy to use already, even for people who have had no prior experience with Linux.

That being said, its not terrible, and once you know that the terminal can be started with Ctrl-Alt-T, it's survivable. It comes with OpenOffice, FireFox, and Pidgin, and really for most people that's all they really need. However, I'm not most people, and I'll be installing Ubuntu on this thing shortly.

One last note, which is really a curiosity more than anything. I was a bit surprised to see that the system came with some games, but all of them (with the exception of Sudoku, which is such a lame game it almost doesn't count) are games that have been around since I first started running Linux. I'm not sure if that's a commentary on the state of Open Source gaming or not, but it was kind of disappointing to realize.

Speaking of which, I tried installing Wesnoth on here out of the Xandros repositories and it segfaulted. And that's almost reason enough to switch this thing over to Ubuntu. When I get around to doing that, I'll have more details here.