Design, Build Quality and User Experience
That said, we have to applaud Asus for their efforts here. While the overall design will not strike anyone as revolutionary, the fact that it is thinner than most stand-alone monitors is worth pointing out. It's also tremendously light at just 11 pounds, making it one of the more mobile all-in-one PCs that we have seen recently. For whatever reason, Asus decided not to put a dedicated carry handle on the rear of the unit, so lugging it from place to place is slightly awkward. Thankfully, this awkwardness is toned down somewhat because of the light weight. Also, we highly doubt you will be relocating your all-in-one PC with any significant degree of frequency.
What is most impressive about the design here is just how good this form factor looks when you consider the price. At under $500, you could certainly do a lot worse. We also appreciate the fact that the black glossy bezel surrounding the LCD is not very large. Asus did an admirable job of minimizing the bezel, and outside of 3 unnecessary stickers in the lower left corner, the overall design is rather classy.
Asus throws in a wired USB keyboard as well as a wired USB mouse. The mouse resembles the size of most travel mice, and long-term users will almost certainly want to upgrade to something larger and more ergonomic for desktop use. The keyboard, however, is far from the worst one we have ever used. It is a chicklet style keyboard with a full-size numerical keypad, and while it is certainly not as comfortable to type on as some of the Logitech, Microsoft, etc. keyboards that we have used, this will certainly serve the purpose for casual computer users.
It is also worth pointing out that the 20-inch display on this machine is of surprisingly high quality, considering the price point. We were expecting something middle of the road, but much to our surprise, Asus has managed to include a remarkably crisp, bright and vivid display into a decidedly value minded machine. Casual movie watchers will surely be pleased, and our only major complaint is the inability for this display to showcase a 1080p resolution natively.
As we mentioned on the first page, Asus is apparently trying to strike a fine balance between sophistication and value. After using this machine for an extended time, we think they have done just that. AMD's E-350 APU is largely responsible. It's important to keep in perspective the kind and class of machine that this is. At under $500 for an entire desktop, complete with a 20 inch LCD, a mouse, and a keyboard, one may not expect the performance to be anything to write home about. Judging by the raw numbers, that's fairly accurate. These numbers are certainly nothing to brag about, but the real-world performance is actually very satisfactory for the given market.
What we're saying is this: the Asus ET2011AUKB-B006E is not a powerhouse. This is not your next gaming machine. This is not even your next touch enabled all-in-one PC. This is a basic computer meant for users who only need to accomplish basic tasks, but don't want to give up certain functionality. But unlike basic machines in years past, AMD's E-350 APU infuses the machine with enough CPU and GPU performance for daily tasks. The 1 TB, 7200 RPM hard drive is actually larger and faster than we would have expected in a machine of this caliber, and having 4 GB of RAM certainly makes the Windows 7 experience one that is far more palatable than the 2GB offered in most netbooks using the same APU. In general, we had no huge complaints about launch times for applications, overall boot time, or basic multitasking. The entire machine was booted and ready for use within 25 seconds, and launching applications such as Firefox and Internet Explorer was acceptable.
Of course, things get a little bit hairy as soon as you touch 3-D graphics. Gaming, while possible due to the APU's DX11-class graphics core, isn't great. If you were thinking that you could buy this AIO desktop for under $500 and get some light duty gaming in, it's technically possible, but you're not going to be overwhelmed. But, in all fairness, Asus never intended for the consumers of this machine to use it for gaming. For everything else, including surfing the Internet, watching high definition videos, burning DVDs, flipping through your photo gallery, writing documents, and otherwise managing your digital life, we were extremely impressed with how well we were able to accomplish these seemingly mundane tasks.