- Excellent netbook performance
- Webcam privacy cover
- Nice screen
- Limited upgradability
- Bouncy keyboard
- Bad touchpad buttons
The Eee PC 1215N is a modern netbook with good performance and a nice design.
The ASUS Eee PC 1215N is the latest netbook to offer a 12-inch HD display and a dual-core Intel Atom processor to deliver multimedia entertainment and multitasking productivity for just $500. While this isn’t the cheapest netbook on the market, the 1215N promises to be the most powerful. Keep reading to find out more.
ASUS Eee PC 1215N Specifications:
- Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit)
- Intel Atom D525 Dual Core Processor 1.8GHz (1MB L2 cache)
- 2GB DDR3 RAM (800MHz)
- 250GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD plus 500GB Online Storage
- 12.1-inch diagonal WXGA (1366×768)
- NVIDIA ION with Optimus
- 0.3 megapixel webcam
- Realtek 802.11 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 (5200mAh, 56Wh)
- One-year standard warranty
- MSRP: $499.99
Build and Design
The ASUS Eee PC 1215N is the latest addition to the “Seashell” line of Eee PC netbooks and features an attractive wedge design with a very thin profile at the front that gradually thickens towards screen hinge. This shape feels nice in your hands and looks even nicer when the computer is resting on a desk. The combination of glossy black plastics and silver metalic finish help accent the various details in the design of this netbook. ASUS was the company that invented the netbook category with it’s original Eee PC, and whether you love them or hate them, netbook sales are still strong enough to suggest that this category of budget ultraportable laptops is going to stick around for a while.
Build quality is very good with the 1215N 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; as no distortions appeared on the display when we applied 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 body of the netbook seems to be well designed with minimal chassis flex and no obvious creaks from the plastics.
As we’ve seen on other recent ASUS notebooks, the new Eee PC 1215N features a convenient webcam privacy cover that slides into place over the lens of the built-in webcam when you flip the switch between the “on” and “off” positions. Yes, technically proficient users can disable the webcam using the Windows Device Manager, but many average netbook owners appreciate having a simple way to protect their privacy so unscrupulous outsiders don’t use their laptop webcams for spying or stalking. Considering how much value a few cents worth of plastic offers, I’m amazed every built-in webcam doesn’t have a switch like this.
One area of the design that didn’t impress us was the bottom of the netbook. The expansion bay consists of nothing more than the two RAM sockets. The cover panel is held in place by a single screw, which makes it easy to upgrade the RAM, but ASUS engineers don’t give you convenient access to the wireless card or the hard drive. Users interested in making upgrades (a common thing for netbook owners) will have to completely disassemble the Eee PC 1215N if they want to do anything other than upgrade the RAM.
Screen and Speakers
The 12.1″ screen on the Eee PC 1215N appears to be the same model used in the older 1201N and 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 causes problems if you have the laptop laying on a bed or pressed against thick clothing on your lap. I was able to easily obstruct the speakers with my legs; making them sound muffled. In short, audiophiles would be better off using a nice pair of headphones or connecting the Eee PC to a stereo through its HDMI-out port.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The nearly full-size keyboard on the 1215N is very comfortable to type although it still has a learning curve compared to regular sized notebooks. Most condensed Chiclet-style (also called island-style) keyboards provide enough space between each key to prevent excessive typos. The keyboard looks quite nice but the keyboard on our review sample suffered from a great deal of flex or “bounce” under heavy typing pressure. Not only does this make typing feel mushy but it can lead to typos when the keys “bounce” under your fingertips. The keys are designed with a rough matte finish on top which helps increase fingertip traction. Individual key action was smooth, giving off a quiet high-pitched click when pressed.
The touchpad on the 1215N is a Synaptics model with great sensitivity and speed. We didn’t notice any problems with the touchpad calibration straight out of the box and the lightly textured surface provides just the right amount of traction for cursor movement. The flush touchpad surface is separated from the palmrests by a pair of polished metal strips but I often found my finger moving outside the touchpad area when using the touchpad. Once again, ASUS engineers decided to use a single touchpad button bar rather than two separate buttons. This makes it easy to accidentally hit the wrong mouse button since there is just one button and no dividing line between the two sides. Hopefully one of these days someone at ASUS will read these reviews and stop using touchpad buttons like these.
Ports and Features
Port selection on the Eee PC 1215N is fairly standard for a modern netbook. ASUS gives you three USB 2.0 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. We won’t complain about the port selection, but since we’re starting to see USB 3.0 on more consumer notebooks we hope it will start showing up on netbooks soon. 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. We can’t accurately speculate on long term reliability, but we don’t imagine this power jack could hold up as well as more robust connectors.