Asus Ion-Powered Eee PC 1201N Review - HotHardware

Asus Ion-Powered Eee PC 1201N Review

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As with other Eee PCs, the 1201N also arrives with the Eee Super Hybrid Engine, which enables users to switch between Power Saving, High Performance and Super Performance modes by simply selecting a line of text through a taskbar icon. It's a simple inclusion, but it's one we've come to greatly appreciate, particularly on a netbook with an Ion GPU. Put simply, there are many times when users could find themselves needing to conserve energy one moment, then need peal performance the next. For instance, if you were running low on battery life at an airport, and then an AC outlet opened up in the row behind you; having the ability to quickly switch these modes enables you to better control the user experience based on your current scenario.


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Upon first booting the machine up, we were underwhelmed by the overall responsiveness of the machine. It was quite baffling, really. It honestly felt slower than the Atom N270-based Mini 311 that we had just finished reviewing. Turns out that the "Power Saving Mode" was active (we were computing on battery, not AC power), and as soon as we toggled the "Super Performance Mode" the responsiveness of the machine was excellent. The dual-core Atom 330 may still only be clocked at 1.6GHz, but it's astounding how much faster it feels in real-world use compared to the single-core Atom N270.


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Like the Mini 311, this one was also equipped with 2GB of RAM, which also goes a long way in improving the overall experience. Bootup was prompt, and while initial application load times were a bit sluggish, switching between them and multitasking was never an issue thanks to the extra breathing room enabled by having 2GB of RAM instead of the 1GB commonly included with other netbooks.


Eee PC 1201N Windows 7 Experience Rating

We will say, however, that despite a decent WEI rating, we weren't too keen on the performance of the hard drive. Even at 5400RPM, it felt a bit sluggish. It's very possible that we just expected more based on our lingering memories of using an SSD-based netbook, but still, it seems like every other aspect of this machine oozes quality. It was noisy to boot, and even though it's roomy at 250GB, we would've preferred a smaller SSD to accompany the relatively quick CPU and GPU.


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We will confess to missing an optical drive, and with a 12.1" frame, we're confident that Asus could've squeezed one in here if they wanted to. Sure, the resulting machine would've been a bit thicker and heavier, but considering how well this thing handled multimedia, we certainly found ourself wanting to try out a DVD or Blu-ray disc.


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Speaking of multimedia, this netbook handles video better than any other we've ever tested, bar none. We were impressed when we saw the Mini 311 play back 720p and 1080p material thanks to having NVIDIA's Ion onboard, but the 1201N managed to do so without even breaking a sweat. Even with 1080p movie trailers playing, the CPU never peaked above 50% utilization, which--on a netbook--is great. We could even multitask while a 1080p clip was playing, which has so far been impossible on netbooks (without making the video stutter, anyway).


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This was also the first netbook we've ever used where decent gaming was a real possibility. Even at 1280x720, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was relatively playable with the details adjusted down a bit, and we're certain that some older/less demanding 3D titles could play on here just fine if you're okay with toning down the details and resolution. Don't expect to play Crysis (or any other leading edge game really) at native resolution with details maxed, but remember, this is a netbook. Typically, netbooks and gaming don't mix well, so we'd considering this a huge win for Asus.


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Nice little machine - good review!

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I may have to buy one of these. Has everything I want in a machine--would just like a little more powerful CPU.

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Hehe... we'd like them all to be as powerful as our desktops... but I think this is quite reasonable for a machine that should mostly be used for work and word processing.

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That has got to be the MOST in depth review i have ever seen!  wowza!  (and take it from me, who has read just about EVERY review on EVERY laptop!)  One quaetion:  why are there 4 processors lised for the Asus 1201N?  in the device manager?

 

What an awesome review!

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Agreed, great review Shawn! Alot of discerning insights and very in depth.

 

The $500 price tag is nice, but I feel the lines are being blurred between a netbook and a small laptop. For a 12.1" you can spring for the HP tx2 series which would include a multi-touch screen, much better processor, graphics, etc for a few hundred dollars more. Unfortunately the quality sucks...

 

"For the same weight, you can get a more spacious machine here with more power under the hood."

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Unfortunately the quality of which one s*cks?  (Hopefully u meant the HPtx2) i had that if you mean the Touchsmart and i hated it.  It was soooo thick, the touchscreen worked when it wanted to, it wasn't a very bright screen (even with brightness all the way up) was only a 1280 x 800 res and wasn't expandable past 4 GB (the model i had anyway, but that was almost 2 years ago, but i notice a lot of the specs are still the same.  Who knows, maybe they improved it, but that would cost DOUBLE this one!

But any idea about my orig question?  Why does it show 4 (four) processors under the Device Manager for the Asus 1201N?

 

t/y!  :)

 

Dumm

 

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I was only hoping this would eventually. But I remember Intel saying its atom 330 was a DESKTOP ONLY proc!! ;)

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I am a linux fan and from the product specification I think this netbook should work fine. However I cannot find any information on the chipset of the wireless network card. In the past I have had trouble with the proprietary Broadcom linux driver, so I prefer to stay away from their products. Would it be possible to know what is the name of the chipset manufacturer of this netbook and it's model number please?

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Great question, Christine.

I too am curious about this. Maybe Marco could boot the machine from a Linux LiveCD (recommend trying Ubuntu and Knoppix) and tell us if it works - and if not, give us the "lspci -v" output so that we can figure out if we can make it work.

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How does this machine perform when playing back generic x264 codec files that people tend to release content on the internet as?  Does the Ion GPU acceleration help with that?  For instance, you can playback nearly anything with vlc media player, including just about everything encoded in x264 codecs and packed as a *.avi or *.mkv file.  But does this netbook perform adequately when playing back 1080p movies in this codec?

The other big challenge is HD youtube videos.  Those use flash media player, which I'm not sure if it has any hardware acceleration at all.  How does the netbook perform when playing those back?

 

 

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