Asus Eee PC X101CH review: Very Poor

No matter what positive characteristics this netbook may have, the biggest negatives are sufficient for me to conclude: do not buy this machine.

My point of comparison is just one machine, an HP Mini 1116NR from nearly three years ago. I have recently shattered its screen by dropping it, but for what I paid, it’s the most remarkable computer I’ve owned.

Starting with the non-negotiables on the Asus Eee PC X101CH:

  1. The power connector is impossible cheap and fragile. It’s an old-fashioned cylindrical conductor but only about 3-4 mm wide (tiny) and therefore wiggly and weak. It already has a serious connection problem, and I have to constantly check that the indicator light says it’s well connected.
  2. The keyboard is horrid. People have figured out how to fit a good keyboard on a netbook-sized space, so why provide a bad one? The right shift key is half sized, which I might learn my way around, but the keys don’t respond easily and my error rate (mostly missed letters) when touch typing on this machine is too high. It’s still very difficult after weeks of using it.
  3. The hard disk also makes the most dog-awful noises: really loud clicks and pops when it wakes up and  at random times for no reason I can tell.  Since I have the netbook in part to take to seminars and meetings, this is completely unacceptable.

Those three are deal-breakers for me. Other than them, all I can do is to compare with my years-old HP mini. It had a 16 GB SSD (solid state) drive rather than the 320GB noisy and slower and less robust drive that the X101CH has. I’m a huge fan of the SSD’s speed and lack of fragile moving parts. Although no features of the X101CH are better than my old netbook, it is slightly bigger overall, and so it doesn’t fit in my camelbak for running to work.  Interestingly, the HP mini was cheaper three years ago than the X101CH today. Moore’s law has forsaken me in this market. Indeed, these days I often find zero netbooks offered with SSDs.

I do like the “VGA” graphics connector built in to the X1010CH. On my old netbook, I had to buy an extra dongle to connect to external displays.

 

The only other problematic differences I’ve experienced is in support for its hardware. The graphics card does not have open specifications and so open-source operating systems have had a hard time supporting it.

Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 12.10 on the X101CH

As of November 2012, Ubuntu 12.10 is a complete failure on this machine. After a long time waiting (from what I understand) 12.04 gained support for the graphics chip, and installing 12.04 with a network cable handy worked perfectly for me (sound, mousepad, display, sleeping, etc) — with a few exceptions:

  • The resolution provided on an external monitor is only 1024×600, the same as the built-in display.  This is awful; my old netbook provided a full-resolution extended desktop over two monitors. Worse, after an update (?), external monitors are completely unadjustable and only 3/4 of the desktop is visible on any external display.
  • Also, while the touchpad’s two-finger scrolling feature works, I’ve not been able to to get it to be sensitive enough to be comfortable.
  • Lastly, the brightness controls do not work. There are only two levels, it seems, and neither is very dim.
Advertisements
This entry was posted in GNU/linux, hardware, Ubuntu and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Asus Eee PC X101CH review: Very Poor

  1. Angel G. says:

    Yeah, maybe you rate this netbook very poor because you are using an operating system wich Asus and Intel never intended you to use with this machine. Overall, I am happy with my Asus X101CH. I updated to Windows 8 and I got problems with Windows 8 and the Intel Graphics 3600, but the computer works very well with Windows 7.
    I think I will buy a 7mm SSD and replace the hard drive…

  2. Mark Delahay says:

    I came across my Asus X101CH by accident, I work in IT so tend to have quite a “fleet” of machines including 2 Asus EEE-PC 901’s which have been my stalwart of Linux “hacking” … anyway to the X101, I got it as a hotel reward after spending 6 months as their guest .. I thank you!

    Firstly the power connector, well, only had the Asus a week and its not broke yet thats all I can say.

    The keyboard, actually I like it the extra inch over the 901’s makes typing easier and not had any issues with accuracy, its certainly easier to use that the keyboard on my Transformer Prime!

    But I have to agree that in the 4 years since my 901’s there has been some stagnation / cos cutting and even steps backwards. Ye ancient spinning disk thing instead of a SSD … come on Asus … progress please even the 901’s were SSD only and helped with their mighty battery life … oh battery life down to 3 – 4 hours another step backwards … grief! Screen may be an inch bigger than the 901 but at 1024×600 its the same spec and very ordinary no progress there then.

    Web cam spec is down from 1.3MP to 0.3MP … er surely not? Oh Asus this is the connected world come on, I spend 50% my time away from my family and Skype keeps me sane I want better pictures not worse ones!

    Asus have always had a funny relationship with Microsoft, the 901 initially launched with Linux and made Microsoft mess their pants, drop the price of XP and extend its life for several years just so that Asus and the netbook revolution would be XP based and not Linux. Shame on Asus for not offering both side by side, they sort of did for a half hearted while but Linux line never saw much love or development and died out or at least became unavailable in the UK, but no odds it was still a Linux hackers dream netbook. Googling about I see that the X101 had a MeeGo (Linux derivative) offering, not that I ever saw it … what’s so wrong with a ‘Buntu based standard offering? Anyhow Windows 7 ran like a dog on the X101 so I binned it for my Linux distribution of choice, Lubuntu (being a simple chap with simple chaps … speed over style any day baby I have a life to lead!)

    Linux on the X101CH …. Lubuntu 12.10 was not happy, the screen was so dark … loaded the 13.04 Beta and all is well usual issues with some of the keys and its not fully tested but getting there, full details on my blog over on Linux Questions, MarkyD.

    The X101’s future? Keep or sell? For the moment keep, my son will get the 901 as its more his size and I like the extra go from the dual core processor but it is getting a 2GB RAM upgrade and an SSD as fast as I can sort it out! Its an ok bit of kit if you get it cheap enough £150 here in the UK tops.

  3. Euger says:

    The version I have appears to have only 1Gb of on board RAM so no chance of an upgrade. Runs like a dog on Win 7 Starter so if I upgrade HDD to SSD which O/S would you recommend?

    • Mark Delahay says:

      It does run like a dog with Win 7 and Linux is a bitch due to the proprietary drivers, but Mint 13 has them (as do the associated Ubuntu version to be fair) but I am using Mint 13 (go for the xfce not Cinemen build) and it runs great of an SSD … get the slim line 7mm version though. With hind sight would not buy this laptop but hey I have it and so making the best of it. It goes every where I go like a faithful dog 🙂

  4. namiko romnie desu says:

    how to keep it cool this netbook?when i use it in hour its OVER HEATING!

  5. Mark Delahay says:

    Personally I don’t have any heat issues? I still use my X101 as my back up 2nd PC and odes all I ask of it. Still stuck with Linux Mint-13 and no chance of any upgrade due to proprietary drivers but with a SSD its quick enough and cool enough. Are you using a SSD in yours?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s