ASUS Eee PC 1201N Review

by Reads (52,458)

Overview

  • Pros

    • Great build quality
    • Responsive touchpad
    • Nice display
  • Cons

    • Only slightly faster single core Atom with NVIDIA ION
    • Poor battery life

The ASUS Eee PC 1201N is loaded with Intel’s dual-core Atom as well as NVIDIA’s ION. This computer falls into its own little category since it is too fast to be a netbook and not as powerful as a CULV notebook. Read our full review to find out how well this dual-core Atom machine performs and if you should get this instead of a CULV notebook.

ASUS Eee PC 1201N Specifications:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit)
  • Intel Atom N330 Processor 1.6GHz (533MHz FSB, 1MB Cache)
  • 2GB DDR2 SDRAM (667MHz)
  • 250GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD plus 500GB Online Storage
  • 12.1-inch diagonal WXGA (1366×768)
  • NVIDIA ION
  • Realtek RTL8191SE B/G/N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • 4-in-1 media card slot
  • 11.65 x 8.19 x 1.31
  • 3lbs 3.5oz (not including weight of AC adapter)
  • 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery (5600mAh, 63Wh)
  • One-year standard warranty
  • MSRP: $499.99

Build and Design
The ASUS Eee PC 1201N has an attractive wedge design with a very thin profile at the front that gradually thickens towards screen hinge. This shape is nice to type on when the computer is resting on a desk, since the front edge isn’t too far up from the desk surface. This reduces pressure on the edge of your wrist and also helps out your hands since the keyboard is sitting in an elevated position. The glossy black finish looks great and the attention to detail is excellent. Usually notebook manufacturers don’t apply a special finish to the battery when they finish a notebook and simply leave the battery looking like a big matte plastic part sitting in the middle of a perfectly glossy area. Thankfully ASUS went the extra mile and painted the top cover of the battery glossy black, which blends in very well with the top edge of the keyboard bezel.

Build quality is very good with the 1201N feeling solid and showing almost no signs of flex. The screen stays firmly shut with a good amount of tension from the screen hinges when closed. Protection from the screen cover is very good; not showing any distortions on the display with pressure to the back of the cover. Opening up the screen you can tell the hinges should hold up for a long time with strong tension that prevents the screen from flopping around once opened. The chassis seems to be well designed, keeping flex and creaking to a minimum. The palmrest stays rigid even with a very strong grip and the keyboard structure stays straight under moderate pressure. We didn’t even notice any scratches on the netbook throughout the duration of our review, which usually entails quite a few cleaning sessions to keep it looking good for pictures.


Screen and Speakers

The 12.1″ screen on the Eee PC 1201N is great for browsing the web, editing photos, or even watching HD movies. Color and contrast are excellent thanks to the glossy surface and LED-backlighting. Color saturation is better than average although only in a narrow viewing range. Once you start to tilt the screen forward or back the colors start to look dim or very washed out. Horizontal viewing angles were better; staying visible until roughly 60 degrees where the reflections on the screen start to overpower what is being displayed. Peak backlight brightness was fine for viewing in bright office conditions, but only when the brightness was set to 100 percent. Outdoor viewing was close to impossible unless you were in some serious shade from a tree or other structure.

The onboard speakers were lap-firing and sounded very tinny. The speakers had no low frequency response and just a small hint of midrange. This is fine for listening to streaming music or watching a YouTube clip, but not for sharing a movie in a small room. The speaker orientation did cause some problems if you had the system laying on a bed or sitting on your lap. It was easy to partially obstruct the speakers which would make them sound muffled. Overall I think a user’s best option for listening to music or movies on this system would be to use a nice pair of headphones or connect it to a stereo through its HDMI-out port.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The nearly full-size keyboard on the 1201N is very comfortable to type although it still has a learning curve compared to regular sized notebooks. Most condensed keyboards don’t give me too much trouble, but the smaller size and location of the shift-key on the right side kept causing typing errors. Normally I have my pinky sitting towards the outer edge of the keyboard, which is fine for most notebooks. On netbooks this puts my finger directly over the Up arrow. After a day or two my finger got used to the placement and it was less of a problem, so don’t be too concerned if you experience some frustration while typing with it right out of the box. The keyboard looks and feels very well built. The keys are designed with a rough matte finish on top which helps increase fingertip traction. The keyboard itself feels very strong and doesn’t flex even under strong pressure. Individual key action was smooth, giving off a quiet high-pitched click when pressed.

The touchpad on the 1201N is a Synaptics model with great sensitivity and speed. Right out of the box we did notice a slight traction problem where it was hard to slide your finger across the surface smoothly, but this could have been caused by lack of oil and residue the multi-touch sticker covering the touchpad. ASUS uses a glossy surface with small raised bumps for most of their newer netbooks and it takes a few hours of use before the surface builds up enough oil to easily slide your finger around. In our tests we didn’t notice any lag or speed issues, which has been a problem for some touchpads recently. We had no trouble at all drawing perfect circles on the screen or quickly popping the mouse to opposite corners of the display. This touchpad also supports a few multitouch features which can be handy when you don’t want to lift your hand off the touchpad. The 1201N offers two-finger scrolling, rotating, and pinch zoom, as well as three-finger flick and three-finger down.

Ports and Features
Port selection on the Eee PC 1201N is pretty good for a netbook, offering three USB ports, HDMI-out, VGA, LAN, and audio jacks. It also features a SDHC-card slot for expanding internal storage or just loading images off your camera while traveling. The only negative aspect of the connections on this Eee PC is the super-tiny AC adapter plug. Compared to any other notebook or netbook (and even some cellphones) it is smaller and potentially weaker. It is hard to speculate on long term reliability, but I don’t see how it could hold up as well as more robust connectors.

Front View: Activity lights

Rear View: Battery and screen hinges

Left Side View: VGA-out, AC-power, one USB port, HDMI-out

Right Side View: SDHC-card slot, two USB ports, audio jacks, LAN, Kensington lock slot


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