Asus X201E - A solid contender

Posted by ubermix On Sunday, March 10, 2013 3 comments

With the X201E, Asus has further solidified their position at the top of low-cost laptop design. This 11.6 inch device is the natural successor to the (now defunct) EeePC netbook series, bringing with it an impressive list of specifications, all without a significant increase in price. For just $299 (or less), you get:

Intel Celeron 847 processor running at 1.1GHz
Integrated Intel HD graphics
11.6 inch 1366x768 display
HD Webcam
4 gigabytes of RAM
320 gigabytes of storage
Atheros 802.11b/g/n wireless, which supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands
1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports
Full-sized HDMI and VGA ports
1x SD card slot

Impressive specs, indeed, however even these are overshadowed by the excellent design elements. The body is extremely thin at just .83 inches and light at just 2.86 pounds, yet it feels quite sturdy in hand. The matte, textured outer shell opens to a striking silver interior, with an excellent full-sized chiclet keyboard and a wonderfully spacious touchpad that is one of the best I've used on a small laptop. All-in-all the machine looks and feels great.

On the software front, this device ships stock with Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin), which means there's no Windows tax. It also means that the hardware and chipset choices were made with an eye towards the best choices for Linux, so expect everything to work extremely well. ubermix 1.07 (impending) includes optimizations that make this device sing.

But there are a few niggles that prevent this device from scoring a perfect "10" on the awesome scale. The display panel, for example, is unfortunately glossy, with tons of reflection to go around. But this is minor compared to the battery - an internal, not-easily-removable, proprietary affair at just 38 Watt-hours (roughly 5:20 of battery life). While it's slightly larger and an hour longer than the default 4-cell battery in the similarly spec'ed Acer V5 (or Aspire 756), there is no option for a larger battery (as there is with the Acer) and its non-standard nature means it's far less likely that you'll be able to purchase a replacement from anyone but Asus when it fails. If past experience is any indicator, it's unlikely that Asus will gouge end-users on a replacement part, however it's also difficult to say for how long Asus might make one available. On the plus-side, this is the easiest-to-open Asus ever - just 9 screws in the base and the bottom pops right off, revealing the hard disk, removable RAM, and that big, flat battery.

So would I recommend it for ubermix? If you are OK with the (arguably minor) battery issue, I'd say absolutely. The price/quality/performance of this device is tough to beat - so tough that it's at the top of my consideration list for next year's deployments. And did I mention it has a two-year warranty? Yet another reason why Asus is at the top of my list.


Jeff said...

Just got a quote for 450 of these from CDWG @ just under $300 ea. Not sure we're going to pull the trigger just yet but compared to other devices touted as 1:1 candidates that's a bargain.

ubermix said...

Indeed. I'll be looking at Acer's similar V5-131 this week for comparison. Also quite competitive. Stay tuned!

Ed Gray said...

It looks like this model has been discontinued. However, I have found a model number for the Acer with Linux installed instead of Windows. It is the Aspire V5-131-2887. For some reason they chose Linpus Linux. CDW has it for $300.

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