Software and Applications Continued
Though Asus states that this machine isn't intended to compete with the XO-1 laptop from OLPC, we can't help but notice the available games and software bundled in with the system that have "kid" written all over them.
Music manager is a digital audio playback program that has pretty slick organization functionality and will pipe various digital audio formats in through the available built-in stereo speakers. Just don't expect high fidelity here. We'd suggest plugging external speakers into the system's audio output, if you want something with a bit more fidelity and punch.
Finally, as you can see in the bottom left shot, we hit the Microsoft WMV HD content showcase site and downloaded one of the HD video files in 720p format. Our 802.11G WiFi connection was able to pump out 344KB/sec from this site, sometimes peaking even higher. The Atheros WiFi chipset that is built into the machine is excellent in terms of speed and stability. And of course we were actually able to playback that HD content on the Eee PC, though frankly frame rate poked along a bit since clearly decoding a video stream of this quality takes a bit of muscle. Perhaps some optimized video drivers or the Windows XP version machine, when it comes out, will be able to handle this task a bit better.
Another key feature of the Eee PC is the inclusion of Open Office applications such as Writer (word processing), Impress (PowerPoint-like), and Calc (Excel-like). There is also a PDF reader installed as well as a dictionary.
Web browsing functionality is handle by Firefox of course and again there is also a built-in WiFi connection manager that handles multiple connections and security features like WEP.
Asus even went so far as to bundle in both Skype and Pigeon, for chat and VOIP connectivity. We tried out both and they worked like a charm. Our unit also came equipped with a built-in web cam with associated software that also worked quite well. We've also given you look at the system's Photo Manager software that does a nice job of organizing your pictures and providing slide show and various other viewing features.
And by the way, all of the screen shots you see here were taken with the systems built in screen capture utility, which is very much like a basic version of Hypersnap, for example. You can snap an entire screen or just a region of the screen and save the image in various image file formats like JPEG, GIF, BMP or PNG.
The Asus Eee PC is very much positioned as a "learning" computer, in that the three "easys" that we mentioned earlier (learn, work, play) are focused on the novice user, quick navigation and an intuitive interface. Though the Eee PC is much more than a child's starter machine, Asus has also bundled in some great educational tools and software that will surely bode well with kids and parents alike.
Whether you or your young key-masher is interested in geographic time zone differences, astronomy, geometry or a basic dictionary reference, the Eee PC comes nicely appointed with applications that can really come in handy. You can get your Pythagorean Theorem on real good and prove it. Let's face it, chicks dig Euclidean Geometry. Who doesn't?