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Asus EeeTop PC ET2002 Review
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Date: Dec 03, 2009
Section:Systems
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction and Specifications
The Asus Eee Top ET2002 is an all-in-one desktop computer that provides the basics for everyday computing as well as multimedia entertainment in a space-saving design. It features a large, 20-inch 16:9 widescreen display and a 1.6GHz dual core Intel Atom 330 processor. Perhaps one of the coolest new features of the ET2002 is the fact that it is one of the first all-in-one computers from Asus to feature NVIDIA Ion integrated graphics for additional multimedia processing horsepower and perhaps even a bit of light gaming.

While the basic components of the ET2002 aren't all that different from those found in your typical netbook, this computer is able to handle HD video and a few other higher-end performance graphics tasks quite well.


Unlike the Eee Top ET1602 we saw earlier this year, the ET2002 doesn't have a touchscreen. Asus does offer a touch version of the ET2002—the ET2002T—but really, if you're planning to use this computer in your office instead of your living room or kitchen, the lack of a touchscreen probably won't make much of a difference. Compared to the ET1602, the ET2002 features an updated design, larger screen, DVD-RW Super Multi drive, and more media-centric intentions.

Our test unit had 2GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a DVD Super Multi drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, six USB ports, a 3-in-1 card reader, and an HDMI input. It comes with a wireless mouse and keyboard, both of which feature a sleek, black finish.

Specifications

LCD

20" 16:9 Widescreen

OS

Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
(Win 7 Upgradable)

CPU + Chipset

Intel Atom Processor 330 Dual core
NVIDIA® ION™

Memory

DDR2 SO-DIMM 2GB

HDD

250GB/320GB SATAII 5400rpm

Optical Drive

Super Multi

Graphics

NVIDIA ION

Web Cam

Yes

Mic

Digital Mic

LAN

10/100/1000 Mbps

Wireless

802.11b/g/n

Audio chip

SRS Premium Sound

3W Hi-Fi Speaker x2

Side IO port

USB 2.0 x 2,
3 in 1 Card Reader: SD/MMC/Memory Stick,
Headset x 1,
Microphone x 1

IO port

Power Input(DC 19V)
USB Ports x 4
LAN Port
HDMI-Input: Standalone Monitor and Game console with HDMI-In

Keyboard + Mouse

Wireless Keyboard + Mouse

Power Supply

19Vdc, 3.42A, 65WPower Adaptor
19Vdc, 4.74A, 90W Power Adaptor

Dimension

511x 410 x 53 mm (WxHxD) (approx. 20.12 x 16.14x 2.09 inches)

Net Weight

7.2kg (approx. 15.87 pounds)

Color

Black

Accessories

Keyboard
Mouse
AC Adapter
Power Cord
Cleaning Cloth
Quick Start Guide
Warranty Card
Recovery & Support DVD


This all-in-one ships with Windows Vista Home Premium and qualifies for the Asus Windows 7 Upgrade program. With a suggested price just shy of $600 and a street price that's even lower than that, this machine will likely attract many who are looking for a PC that looks good, saves space, and offers decent performance. Just how well does the Asus Eee Top ET2002 serve its purpose? Join us as we find out.
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Design and Build Quality
If you're familiar with the looks and design of the ET1602, you'll immediately notice that the ET2002 has a strong resemblance to its predecessor with a glossy black plastic casing and smoked transparent plastic shell. For the Mac fans out there, the ET2002 will likely remind you of the Apple iMac line of desktop computers.

The ET2002's display is bright and crisp. Although its native resolution of 1600x900 doesn't let you view full 1920x1080 resolution video, you can still enjoy high definition content. If you'll recall, we said the viewing angles of the ET1602 left something to be desired; we're glad to report that we don't have any complaints about the ET2002's viewing angles.


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Below the display on the left side, you'll find a few control keys including Home and Menu buttons as well as buttons for adjusting the display brightness and navigating the menu system. The power button is on the right side just below the display. Below the control keys is a gray grill that hides the machine's stereo speakers. Asus touts the machine's SRS Premium Sound with virtual 5.1 surround sound capabilities. Overall sound quality from the speakers was good. Above the screen, you'll find a webcam and a dual-microphone array.


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The right side of the ET2002 has the tray-loading DVD Super Multi drive and not much else. You'll find the microphone and headphone/audio out jacks, two USB ports, and the 3-in-1 card reader that supports MMC, SD, and MS cards on the left side of the machine.


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On the back of the machine, you'll find a sturdy, spring-loaded stand that makes it easy to adjust the tilt of the machine to a viewing angle of your liking. This stand is very simple and also very effective. You'll also find a Kensington lock port, four USB ports, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI input (for using the Eee Top as a display for another device), and a power connector on the back of the ET2002.

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User Experience
The included wireless keyboard has a very slim design with chiclet style keys. Overall, it's comfortable to type on, though there were times where we missed having a numeric keypad and some of the added buttons that accompany a larger keyboard. This is personal preference, and for a machine that's meant to save space and features an all-in-one design, the included keyboard is right on the mark.

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The laser mouse offers a separate on/off switch and a clickable scroll wheel. Both the mouse and the keyboard are easy to set up. Simply pop open the battery compartments, insert two AAA batteries for each peripheral (Asus includes 4 batteries to get you started), and press the connect buttons to link the mouse and keyboard to the Eee Top.


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During our tests, applications loaded fairly quickly, though there were occasional delays while multitasking. These delays weren't unbearable by any means and should be expected from netbook-like hardware, so we won't complain.

To test the multimedia playback capabilities of the ET2002, we downloaded a few high definition clips from the Microsoft Windows Media HD Content Showcase. During our tests, both 720p and 1080p clips played smoothly. We also watched a handful of videos from YouTube (some with HQ/HD quality) without many complaints.


1080p clip from Microsoft Windows Media HD Content Showcase

Until Adobe officially releases support for GPU acceleration with Flash, playback of streaming content will likely be met with mixed results and some videos may appear choppy. The good news is that Adobe has promised GPU acceleration (we've seen it live and it works great...) support for Flash 10.1, which is set to arrive before the end of this year. This should definitely improve streaming video performance since the Atom processor won't have to do all of the heavy lifting.

Although the ET2002 will ship with Windows Vista Home Premium, our contact at Asus recommended testing under Windows 7 since the machine will qualify for the free upgrade. As such, our test system was preloaded with Windows 7 Release Candidate. We performed the majority of our tests using Windows 7 RC, though we did roll back to Vista Home Premium using the machine's hidden recovery partition to get a better feel for some of the software that will ship with the ET2002.

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Software and Accessories
The ET2002 doesn't come with much in terms of accessories, but that's ok by us. In the box, you'll find a power supply, keyboard, mouse, recovery disc, cleaning cloth, quick start guide, and some documentation concerning the Windows 7 upgrade program.


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We liked that the ET2002 didn't have a lot of preinstalled bloatware. The machine does come preloaded with Trend Micro Internet Security, however, which will automatically pop-up at start up until you do something to get rid of it. Other included programs include the SRS Premium Sound Control Panel as well as the ASUS Easy Update application.



One of the more unique features of the ET2002's software package is the Eee Bar and included Eee software. The Eee Bar provides easy access to commonly used programs as well as system management settings. You can customize the Eee Bar to include the programs that you use most frequently.



By default, the Eee Bar provides access to the Eee Cam, Internet Explorer, MCE, Hand Writing, and the Eee Manager. Since our test model wasn't a touchscreen, the inclusion of the Hand Writing recognition app seemed a bit strange, but it was still usable with the mouse. We image it would be useful with an external tablet as well.



We have to give Asus credit for the included webcam and Eee Cam software on the ET2002. The webcam does a respectable job at capturing images and video and the included software lets you tweak the captured items and add graphics, overlays, and effects.
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Benchmarks (SANDRA)
The Windows Experience Index assesses the key system components of a machine and rates them on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9. The Asus Eee Top ET2002 scores a 3.2 in this test. The processor drags the score down while the gaming graphics performance and hard disk performance scores are above average.


Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2009
Synthetic Benchmarks

SiSoftware Sandra (the System Analyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software, and other devices.


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The dual core Intel Atom 330 processor held its own in Sandra's CPU-specific test, compared to similarly equipped CPUs, but it's obviously not going to compete very well against more powerful processors. During our tests, the processor held up fine for basic tasks, but you are likely to see limitations, especially if you're multitasking or really pushing the processor.


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Looking at the Processor Multi-Media test, the ET2002's Atom 330 edges out the reference Atom 330, yet it still falls behind other more powerful Intel offerings. As we've mentioned, we found the ET2002 to be acceptable in playing back high definition content, though experiences will definitely vary depending on the source media type and resolution of that clip.


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On the Memory Bandwidth test, the ET2002 falls behind the NVIDIA Ion MCP79 and Intel 945GME reference systems.
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Benchmarks (Vantage)

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

"The PCMark Suite is a collection of various single- and multi-threaded CPU, Graphics, and HDD test sets with the focus on Windows Vista application tests. Tests have been selected to represent a subset of the individual Windows Vista Consumer scenarios. The PCMark Suite includes CPU, Graphics, Hard Disk Drive (HDD), and a subset of Consumer Suite tests."





Given that we're dealing with netbook-class hardware on this machine, we can't expect the Asus Eee Top ET2002 to put up numbers anywhere close to what we'd see on a high end gaming machine. Nevertheless, it's still interesting to see the scores the ET2002 puts up. The ET2002 performs best in the Music and Hard Drive tests, though the other scores are respectable for netbook-class hardware.
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Benchmarks (Continued)

 
Cinebench R10
 3D Rendering
Cinebench R10 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Maxon's Cinema 4D, a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and others. This benchmark is very demanding of system processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput. This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. Each test system’s final scores to render the scene are represented below.



Our Cinebench rendering tests show that the Atom's dual core processing capabilities make a difference, though it still took 9 minutes and 36 seconds to render the image.

 
 LAME MT
 Audio Encoding

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format. This simulates a common scenario that many of us users work with on a regular basis to provide portability and storage of digital audio content. LAME is an open-source, mid- to high- bit-rate and VBR (variable bit rate) MP3 audio encoder that is widely used around the world in a multitude of third party applications.

In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single and multi-threaded modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in minutes:seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.



Here again, the Atom processor isn't going to compete with the higher-end processors that you might find on some other systems, but it is right in line with other Atom based rigs.
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Benchmarks (Enemy Territory: Quake Wars)

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
OpenGL Gaming Performance


Enemy Territory:
Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Based on an enhanced version of id's Doom 3 engine and viewed by many as Battlefield 2 meets the Strogg, and then some. ET: Quake Wars also marks the introduction of John Carmack's "Megatexture" technology that employs large environment and terrain textures that cover vast areas of maps without the need to repeat and tile many smaller textures. The beauty of megatexture technology is that each unit only takes up a maximum of 8MB of frame buffer memory. Add to that HDR-like bloom lighting and leading edge shadowing effects and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks great, plays well and works high end graphics cards vigorously.






The Asus Eee Top ET2002 finishes just behind the Atom 330 and Zotac Ion platforms but ahead of the others. You can definitely see a difference in the single-core Aspire Revo and the dual-core ET2002 in the scores.

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Final Thoughts

In many ways, the Asus Eee Top ET2002 is an impressive machine. You get a dual-core Atom processor and NVIDIA Ion graphics as well as a large, crisp display in a sleek, space-saving, all-in-one design. Users who are considering an all-in-one such as the ET2002 shouldn't expect gaming-system type performance from the ET2002. But considering this, the ET2002 handled a variety of tasks effectively.


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We have to give the ET2002 credit for playing our local 1080p test videos with relative ease, especially considering this is netbook-like hardware we're talking about. Once applications begin to fully take advantage of Ion and users upgrade the system to Windows 7, this all-in-one PC should receive a major boost in some key performance areas.

The ET2002 is positioned as a budget machine with respectable multimedia capabilities. It has a suggested retail price of $599. For those of you who are willing to shop around, you'll likely find it for even less—Amazon is currently selling it for about $20 less, for example.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for an attractive all-in-one machine and desire the multimedia functionalities that NVIDIA's Ion platform promises, then the ET2002 is definitely a model to consider.

     
  • All-in-one design
  • NVIDIA Ion graphics
  • Large 20-inch display
  • Qualifies for Windows 7 Upgrade
  • Streaming content sometimes appears choppy
  • Atom processor is limiting for high-performance tasks



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