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Hands-On With ASUS Premium Eee PC S101


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It seems like not a day goes by that we don’t report on a new Eee PC model, but the Eee PC S101, which we had the opportunity to play around with for an hour this morning, is a like no Eee PC we have seen before.

If the former Eee PCs are of the Gap or Old Navy variety, the Eee PC S101 is the Prada. Priced at $699, the S101 really does have that ultra-sleek exterior that has been touted in the company’s marketing materials and Web site. We had to see it to believe it but the S101 is by far the slimmest and most stylish netbook we have seen.

Check out or first impressions and our first hands-on video and photo gallery below.

Slim and Stylish Is In
As you can see in the video ASUS has no shame in saying “Slim is In” with its S101 branded T-Shirts. We won’t comment on the appropriateness of this comment, but will say we have no problem with slim laptops and the S101 is definitely one of those. Measuring 10.3 x 7 x .7-inches and weighing 2.3-pounds, it felt extremely light in our hands and just about the same weight as the original Eee PC 701.

Available in a copper brown and black graphite (also in champagne in other countries), the glossy lid looks chic and planted on the hinge is a Swarovski crystal. The style leads under the lid to a brushed metal palm rest and touchpad. The keyboard remains black, but is offset by metal accents. If you are into how your laptop looks, the S101 screams “I am in to style.”

Keyboard, Touchpad
All the style in the world couldn’t keep us from focusing on the keyboard and touch pad of the small notebook. The keyboard on the S101 looks exactly like that on the Eee PC 1000H and 1000; the keys are large enough to not mistype. In fact we thought the keyboard looked more solid than that of the 1000, but that could have just been the stronger manufacturing build surrounding the system.

The touchpad is a bit different than we have seen on past Eee PCs. The pad is wider and there isn’t too much friction, but ASUS went back to the single mouse bar which lacks a divot for separating right and left buttons. This isn’t a deal breaker, however, as the bar is easier to press and isn’t as stiff as the one on the Eee PC 901 or 1000H.

10-Inch LED Display
The Eee PC S101 has a higher quality 10-inch LED backlit 1024 x 600 resolution screen. The screen is glossy and when cranked up to full brightness looked vivid. The LED lights should also afford the system some battery savings.

Though the S101 got all dressed up on the outside, its inside still sports the usual netbook components. A 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB SSD give the S101 its internal thrust. Running Windows XP (the Xandros Linux version won’t be available in the U.S.) the S101 seemed to handle normal netbook such as launching applications swiftly and surfing the Net. The SSD booted the system in a decent 50 seconds.

Early Verdict
The Eee PC S101 is the best looking Eee PC to date and if you like snazzy laptops you will like ASUS fashionable netbook. But $699 is pricey for a system that won’t deliver the full performance of a notebook. ASUS also has put out the N10 which also runs an Intel Atom processor for $599-$699. The N10 buys you discrete graphics and more of the typical notebook ports, however. Either way, we are impressed with the look and feel of the Eee PC S101 and plan to have a full review soon.

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