Review Asus Eee PC 901 Netbook

Asus Eee PC 900 + 1

The improvements of the Eee PC 901 compared with the older 900 are numerous. A new CPU, faster chipset graphic, Bluetooth, Draft-n WLAN, and a capacious battery are the most striking denouements. In the following detailed review you can learn if this package is able to convince.

Asus Eee PC 901

Case

With the Eee PC 901 Asus introduces the Intel Atom based successor of the Eee PC 900. Besides the new CPU, the design has also been turned inside out and updated. In addition, the small netbook received new wireless communication techniques. The WLAN card is compatible with the Draft-n standard and Asus treated the small subnotebook to a Bluetooth 2.0, as well.

The wedge shaped case of the Eee PC901 is dominated by the battery/hinge combination with aluminum end. The touchpad is edged with an aluminum border, too and is no longer as recessed as it was in the 900 model. The power switch has moved from the hinge area into a silver bar above the keyboard. The form of the base unit was also revised by Asus and seems to be a bit rounder.

The plastic case makes a very stable impression and barely twists itself in the test. Thanks to the compact design, no creaking noises were noticed, either. The dominate display hinge was a bit stiff (both hands were required for opening) in our test device but made no disturbing noises.

Eee PC 901 versus
Eee PC 901
Eee PC 900
Eee PC 900

Connectivity

By the 901 nothing has been changed in the physical connectivity. The three USB 2.0 connections are especially worth mentioning for a small subnotebook. Otherwise there are the usual connections: VGA to connect an external monitor, microphone and headphones out to connect headphones, SD card reader for memory expansion, LAN for wired networking and a Kensington lock to secure the notebook. For video-telephony, (i.e. with Skype), Asus built in a 1.3 megapixel webcam and a stereo microphone (like by the Eee PC 900).

In order to expand the collective 12 GB meager hard disk volume, Asus offers a possibility to save up to 20 GB online by Yostore. How long this free offer is available isn't mentioned, however.

Left side: Headphones, microphone, USB 2.0, LAN, Kensington Lock
Left side: Headphones, microphone, USB 2.0, LAN, Kensington Lock
Right side: MMC/SD reader, 2x USB 2.0, VGA, power socket
Right side: MMC/SD reader, 2x USB 2.0, VGA, power socket

Input Devices

The Asus Eee PC 901 takes the very small keyboard of the Eee 900 and 701 and therefore struggles furthermore with handling problems. The keys have a stroke surface of 12x12 mm and the special characters even only 10x12 mm. This allows only users with very slim fingers to use the 10-finger system and this only after some training time. The layout of the keys is acceptable but the position of the right shift key is very awkward. Through this one strikes the "arrow up" key again and again. Principally the keyboard is built into the upper case firmly and only the backspace key clattered insignificantly in our test device.

In addition, one finds four buttons above the keyboard which directly activate different options. The display can be quickly deactivated (energy saving mode), the resolution can be changed (i.e. to interpolate a higher resolution), an energy savings mode can be chosen or  predefined program can be started (i.e. Skype).

The Multitouch touchpad built into the the Eee PC 901 offers good gliding traits and is adequately sized. Because of the minor depth of the case, the pad is very close to the user. This is slightly uncomfortable during use. Thanks to the Multitouch function, one can scroll and zoom with only two fingers, like in the new Apple notebooks. This worked very well in the test, even if not as smooth as on the Apple computers (under MasOs X).

Touchpad
Asus Eee PC 901
Keyboard
Asus Eee PC 901

Display

The display is not readable in sunlight
The display is not readable in sunlight

The bad news first – the 8.9" display is still too dark for outdoor usage, with its maximum of 109.2 cd/m2 in the middle. There is a possibility of increasing the brightness a bit with the so called "eeectl" tool, but Asus advises explicitly against it. The display controller can take harm doing so. Positive to mention is the matt display surface, which prevent reflections. 

Like the Eee PC 900 the 901 has a resolution of 1024x600 pixels on a 8.9 inch screen. This results in a very fine resolution of 133 dpi (a "normal" notebook with a 15.4" screen has only 98 dpi – see DPI List). The positive side of the high resolution is that Windows XP can be run without any problems and one doesn’t have to scroll horizontally so much on most websites. This was a weak point of the Asus Eeee 701 with a resolution of only 800x640 pixels.

94.7
cd/m²
90.9
cd/m²
88.7
cd/m²
99.3
cd/m²
109.2
cd/m²
103.4
cd/m²
93.6
cd/m²
94.8
cd/m²
101.2
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 109.2 cd/m²
Average: 97.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Black: 0.19 cd/m²
Contrast: 575:1

The color depiction of the monitor can be judged as average up to good. Thanks to the low black value of 0.19 cd/m2, the maximal contrast of 574:1 isn't bad (despite the low maximum brightness). One notices this in the subjective image evaluation. The skin tones turn out a bit too pale and black quickly "drowns" (up to 4.7% brightness the grey tones aren't to be differentiated from black).

The vertical viewing angle of the small screen is disappointing, as well. Color changes are already noticed at a minor adjustment of the inclination angle of the display. At about 35° a complete loss of brightness sets in when looking down on the screen. From the side one can't perceive a color loss till about 30°.  At 50° a strong brightness loss sets in.

Asus Eee PC 901 viewing angle stability

Performance

The biggest alteration of the Eee PC 900 to the 901 is the Intel Atom N270 processor with a 1.6 GHz clock rate. This replaces the old Celeron M with 900 MHz. Despite the considerable increase in rate the one core Atom processor consumes slightly less power. The per-clock performance is, however lower than in the Celeron. The chipset graphic got a bit quicker, as well, since Asus now uses the GMA 950 (before GMA 900).

The performance of the Eee PC 901 showed itself as completely adequate for modest tasks. The combination of the N270 with the GMA 950 graphic card finished e.g. office operations sufficiently fast and with only minor waiting times (19 seconds till the start of the pre installed StarOffice Writer and no waiting time during use). In larger PDF documents (i.e. the report over the 9/11 commission with 585 sides) could be smoothly navigated in the test.

Even undemanding 2D and 3D games are playable with the Eee PC 901 netbook. In the test Hurrican (freeware version of the classic Turrican) or Air Hawk 2 ran smoothly. Sophisticated up-to-date 3D games can't be played smoothly, though.

In the video depiction one finds the limits of the CPU/GPU combination. The not very strong Atom processor isn't supported by a graphic card which accelerates the video decoding. Because of this, the performance is only adequate for watching SD videos. MPEG 2 videos (DVD) could only be played with a load of 20 – 40% smoothly (depending on the energy saving mode). HD videos could also only be admired in 480p as single pictures. Web videos, depending on the data rate, can also be enjoyed.  A for the test played flash video on Gamestar.de (F.E.A.R. 2 trailer) jerked in the standard settings of 1500 Kbits/s. At 768 Kbits/s the video ran smoothly.

Fortunately, in battery mode the whole CPU performance was available (with the performance setting mode on high).

3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE2599 points
3DMark 06
 1024x768
73 points
Help
PC Mark
PCMark 051175 points
Help
Cinebench R10
 SettingsValue
 Rendering Single 32Bit544 Points
 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit833 Points
 Shading 32Bit273 Points

A feature of the small netbook is the used SDD drives. They consist of flash memory modules and can achieve very fast data transmission rates, theoretically. The in the netbook built in low-priced chips and controllers achieve only under average performance values (except in the access time).

The SSD disk from Phison in the Eee PC 901 achieved a maximum transmission reading rate of 31 MB per second. When writing the plate only achieved 15 MB per second (in the practical test copying a 1 GB large file took 2 minutes 14 seconds, equivalent to 7.8 MB per second). With these reading rates the SSD stays slightly below the presently slowest built in notebook HDDs. The writing rate is considerably worse, though. For this the SSD principally remains absolutely noiseless and is insensitive to impacts.

4 GB + 8 GB SSD
Transfer Rate Minimum: 15.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 31 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 29 MB/s
Access Time: 0.5 ms
Burst Rate: 24.6 MB/s
CPU Usage: 2.2 %

Emmisions

System Noise

Thanks to the noiseless SSD hard disk and sparing Atom processor the Eee PC 901 remains even after switching on absolutely noiseless. The fan turns up for about 2 minutes and then mutes again when starting StarOffice. 10 Minutes later (with additional internet use) the fan starts up in a barely audible velocity (in a normal distance of use, hardly noticeable). This was constantly on, changing its speed minimally (but barely noticeable).

Even under load, the netbook from Asus barely got louder in battery mode because in the energy saving mode the performance of the CPU is limited. When it's connected to its power supply, the Eee gets audibly louder under load (already with flash videos) but not yet disturbing (according to the eeectl tool at a maximum of 30% fan velocity).

In the whole, the Eee PC 901 remains considerably more silent than the original 704 and can be used for working in quiet surroundings.

Noise Level

Idle 0 / 28.8 / 28.8 dB(A)
HDD 0 dB(A)
Load 32.3 / 32.3 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Because of its slow rotating system fan and the small case size, the case of the netbook warms up to a maximum of 40°C (measured on the bottom side). The palm rest areas remained with a maximum of 34°C at a pleasant temperature.

Max. Load
 34.1 °C33.8 °C33.6 °C 
 33.7 °C34.9 °C34.8 °C 
 33.9 °C35.1 °C33.5 °C 
Maximum: 35.1 °C
Average: 34.2 °C
33.7 °C33.4 °C36.0 °C
34.7 °C38.6 °C40.2 °C
33.3 °C35.9 °C34.1 °C
Maximum: 40.2 °C
Average: 35.5 °C
Room Temperature 22 °C

Loudspeakers

The built in stereo loudspeakers are, like by the Eee PC 900 subnotebook, placed on the bottom side of the front edge. Because the sound is radiated downwards, it depends on the underlayment of how loud and clear it is reflected back to the user. On sound-absorbing materials the speakers can be too quiet and one has to count with a very damped noise. Principally the two small squeakers recite a very passable sound for their size. Despite an obvious weak bass as well as a slightly thin sound setting, the built in loudspeakers can be used, at moderate volume, for background music.

Battery Runtime

We could not quite reach the from Asus promised 8 hours battery runtime in our test. The little subnotebook ran for a maximum of about 7 hours (without load, all settings on energy saving, minimum brightness). About 5 hours in normal working conditions are realistic.

Readers Test
Maximal Battery Runtime (BatteryEater Readers Test)
DVD Test
Minimal Runtime (BatteryEater Classic Test)
Classic Test
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
7h 00min
DVD
5h 55min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 26min

The low energy consumption of an average of 14 watts was exemplary in the test. One can definitely speak of “green IT” here. Interesting as well, was that the Eee PC only used 0.6 watts in the standby mode. Switched off, the power supply still drew 0.4 watts.

Power Consumption

Idle 7.8 / 11.5 / 14 Watt
Load 15.4 / 16.4 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         

Verdict

With the Asus Eee PC 901, Asus improves its 8.9" netbook 900. A faster chip set graphic, the sparing Intel Atom CPU, WLAN in Draft-n Standard, Bluetooth 2.0 and a refined design are the most important denouements. Especially the sparing Intel Atom N270 in connection with a 6 cell battery leads to a very good battery runtime and low operating noises.

Unfortunately, the two greatest deficits of the Eee PC 900 remain. The dark display still effectively prevents the usage outdoors. And the small keyboard makes it almost impossible to use the 10-finger system without looking. But exactly these two features would be important for a mobile e-mail, surf and word processing system.

The computing performance of the new Intel Atom CPU is completely sufficient for simple everyday tasks. One comes to the performance limits of the system only in games and high resolution videos. The two small SSDs aren't particularly fast and the writing rate leaves much to be desired but they operate noiseless and are insensitive to impacts.

In the whole the Asus Eee PC is an interesting complete package with a long battery runtime to a low price. Users who type a lot and want a bright display, should acquire one of the 10" counterparts (i.e. Asus Eee PC 1000H or MSI Wind U100).

Asus Eee PC 901 Netbook
Asus Eee PC 901 Netbook
In Review: Asus Eee PC 901
Asus Eee PC 901

Specifications

Asus Eee PC 901

:: Processor
Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz
:: Mainboard
Intel 945GM
:: Memory
1024 MB, DDR3 200MHz 3-3-3-8-11
:: Graphics adapter
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950, Core: 400 MHz, shared Memory, 6.14.10.4906
:: Display
8.9 inch 16:10, 1024x600 pixel, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
4 GB + 8 GB SSD, 12 GB Phison
:: Soundcard
Realtek HD Audio
:: Connections
3 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphones, microphone, Card Reader: MMC, SD, Webcam (1.3M), Mikrophone (Array)
:: Networking
Atheros AR8121/AR8113 PCI-E Ethernet Controller (10/100MBit), Ralink RT2860 (b g n ), Broadcom Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 42 x 225 x 174
:: Weight
1.125 kg Power Supply: 0.2 kg
:: Battery
49 Wh Lithium-Ion, AL23-901 7.4V 6.6Ah
:: Price
500 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows XP Home 32 Bit
:: Additional features
Slipcover, Microfiber cloth, Handbook, MS Works, Staroffice 8, YoStore 20GB

 

The Asus Eee PC 901 is a 8.9" netbook with an Intel Atom CPU...
The Asus Eee PC 901 is a 8.9" netbook with an Intel Atom CPU...
...the Eee PC is always there -...
...the Eee PC is always there -...
Thanks to the compact case and the light weight...
Thanks to the compact case and the light weight...
The big 6 cell battery makes it possible to stay independent from a socket for 7 h.
The big 6 cell battery makes it possible to stay independent from a socket for 7 h.
The small stereo loudspeakers radiate, like the 900, downwards.
The small stereo loudspeakers radiate, like the 900, downwards.
For that the bottom side heats up to 40°C.
For that the bottom side heats up to 40°C.
The fan stays despite the compact case very quiet.
The fan stays despite the compact case very quiet.
The netbook can be upgraded through the cover on the bottom side.
The netbook can be upgraded through the cover on the bottom side.
The performance of the Intel Atom processor is for simple applications adequate.
The performance of the Intel Atom processor is for simple applications adequate.
... and the viewing angles are only mediocre.
... and the viewing angles are only mediocre.
The display is still too dark for usage outdoors...
The display is still too dark for usage outdoors...
New is the silver quick-start bar.
New is the silver quick-start bar.
The touchpad accepts, like the Eee PC 900, Multitouch entries.
The touchpad accepts, like the Eee PC 900, Multitouch entries.
One of the biggest deficites remains the small keyboard.
One of the biggest deficites remains the small keyboard.
...and are for a netbook ample.
...and are for a netbook ample.
The ports remain the same...
The ports remain the same...
In comparison to the Eee PC 900 the inner life as well as the appearance has changed.
In comparison to the Eee PC 900 the inner life as well as the appearance has changed.
...and a big 6 cell battery.
...and a big 6 cell battery.
...even if not always operational, like here with insolation.
...even if not always operational, like here with insolation.

Similar Devices

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

» Review Toshiba NB-100 Netbook
Atom N270, 1.05 kg

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Asus Eee PC 1005HA-M (Win7) Netbook
Atom N270, 10.1", 1.28 kg
» Review Dell Latitude 2100 Netbook
Atom N270, 10.1", 1.58 kg

Price Comparison

Asus Eee PC 901 at Ciao

Geizhals.at

Asus Eee PC 901 (Weiss) (EU)

Pricerunner.de

Rating

Asus Eee PC 901
09/23/2008
Klaus Hinum

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
70%
Pointing Device
88%
Connectivity
79%
Weight
99%
Battery
98%
Display
70%
Games Performance
34%
Application Performance
61%
Temperature
85%
Noise
98%
Add Points
90%
Average
80%
86%
Netbook *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Asus Eee PC 901 Netbook
Author: Klaus Hinum, 2008-10-22 (Update: 2012-05-26)