Asus Eee PC T91 Swivel-Screen Tablet Netbook

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User Experience

Using Asus' Eee PC T91 is a fun overall experience. It's nimble and it offers something not available in most netbooks: a touch-sensitive swivel screen. Performance wise, however, it's really lacking. The sluggish Atom Z520 (1.33GHz) is mostly to blame, as is the woefully underpowered GMA 500 graphics engine. Once the machine boots up, it manages to load the usual applications (Office apps, Firefox, etc.) without much delay, and actually switching windows and the like is snappy enough to not cause frustration. We suspect we've got the SSD to thank here, as it really does feel quicker than similar HDD-equipped models.

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But anything even remotely related to multimedia is pretty much a no-go, and gaming is absolutely out of the question beyond the occasional round of Solitaire. With most GMA 950-equipped netbooks, we can usually watch at least some 720p content, but with this one, we couldn't watch any 720p content. Even High Quality YouTube videos put a real strain on the machine, so if you plan on watching a video while crunching numbers on a huge Excel sheet and streaming ESPN Radio in the background, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

It's a shame, really, because even these lackluster innards cause the Eee PC T91 to get unusually warm. We never managed to make the machine "blistering hot," but it's far and away the hottest Eee PC we've used. Granted, the casing is smaller than most given the 8.9" display, but extended use definitely gets this machine toasty.

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That said, the T91 is one of the most easily portable netbooks we've ever seen. If you need absolute portability over all else, it's hard to go wrong here. This thing is so light, it's easy to forget that it's in your suitcase. Also, the actual typing and mousing experience is top-notch. The trackpad really is stellar on this machine, and it's a real model for other netbooks. It's only missing full-on multi-touch, but otherwise it's fantastic to use.

The keyboard is as good as a keyboard can get on an 8.9" netbook. The keys are small, sure, but they're placed perfectly. With a few hours of use, you'll be hammering away without too many mistakes. You'll definitely give up some comfort typing on such tiny keys, but it's about as good as it gets for a machine this size barring some flex in the center.

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So, the question really is: "Is the touchscreen something to consider?" In short, probably not. There's a reason the Tablet PC industry has shrunk into a black hole and the conventional netbook has surged. One has incredible demand, one doesn't. The fact remains that the Tablet PC form factor is really only good for a few industries: hospitals/medical sectors, students who prefer to doddle rather than type and industrial applications. Unless you have a serious need for a touchscreen, you can safely avoid the Tablet PC portion of this machine and be just fine.

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The screen itself looks somewhat dim and washed out compared to non-touchscreen panels on other Eee PCs. It's just the nature of a soft, mushy resistive touchscreen. So basically, you'll be saddled with a ho hum display 100% of time in order to have a touchscreen capability that you'll use maybe 10% of the time. It's a poor trade in our estimation unless you have a very specific reason to use the touch aspect the majority of the time.

If you do, however, the T91 is a runaway winner. Even though we would've preferred a capacitive touchscreen over the included resistive touchscreen, it works very well. We never even had to use the stylus, as our fingers and fingernails worked just fine. The screen recognized our inputs and pressure points without a hitch, and we never grew frustrated by lag or missed inputs. So yeah, the touchscreen reaction is good, but it's up to you to decide whether you'll use it enough to pay nearly $200 more for this netbook over other, non-touchscreen Eee PC netbooks.

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