Design and Build Quality
The Eee PC 1201N is a lot like the Eee PC 1005HA in terms of design. In fact, we'd say that if you've seen the 1005HA in person, you've seen the 1201N. There is very little in terms of sheer design that has changed since the 1005HA was released, with the additional screen real estate (12.1" on the 1201N versus 10.1" on the 1005HA), HDMI socket and the full-size keyboard being the most notable.
That's not to say we're disappointed with the 1201N. Asus has clearly found a sweet spot with styling, and they are apparently not looking to mix that formula up anytime soon. The size of the 1201N is just about perfect in our eyes; the 12.1" form factor gives you no extra pixels compared to the 11.6" Mini 311 (which also boasts a 1366x768 resolution), but the extra real estate enables a full-size keyboard to be planted and it also enables more surface area for heat to disperse--in turn, keeping the machine exceptionally cool even under intense load.
The dimpled multi-touch trackpad is here, along with the polarizing silver bar beneath it. We appreciate the addition of multi-touch, but as with older Eee PCs, we're still not fans of the dimples and we're really unimpressed with the solid silver click bar that allows for left / right pushes to account for left / right clicks.
Even the LCD hinge is the same as before, and the glossy black paint job is everywhere. The LCD bezel is dipped in glossy, the palm rests are glossed and even the top lid is glossed. The underside is the only bit of matte on the whole machine, so we hope you're ready to clean off a great deal of fingerprints.
At 3.22lbs., this machine basically weighs exactly the same as the 11.6" Ion-powered Mini 311 from HP. As you'll recall from that review, the 1.6GHz Atom N270 turned out to really hamper overall system performance. For the same weight, you can get a more spacious machine here with more power under the hood.
As for overall build quality, Asus has once again delivered. This machine feels like a $500 machine through and through; the LCD hinge is rock solid, the screen and body are both rigid, and keyboard flex is kept to a minimum. It's definitely more robust than Asus' lower-end Eee PC netbook models, but considering the premium price, that's to be expected.