Summary and Conclusion
What's there to say? The Eee PC 1201PN is sort of the Eee PC 1201N, for all intents and purposes. The GPU is a little stronger, and the CPU is a little weaker, but at the end of the day, you end up with near-identical real-world performance in most cases. Both machines handle HD video. Both machines can only game with moderately taxing titles cranked down to the lower resolution, and both machines share the exact same chassis and port assortment. It's sort of hard to understand why the 1201PN even exists in a world where the 1201N is still being produced, but yet, that's exactly what has happened.
Here's the real kicker: Asus probably should have held on releasing the 1201PN until Optimus was ready for the Ion 2 platform. Had Optimus come on this machine, we can imagine things turning out a lot better for the 1201PN. If we could switch off the discrete GPU and use the IGP when needed, we suspect battery life figures would've been far better. And what's a little bothersome, aside from the lack of Optimus. The Ion 2 isn't a GPU that totally crushes its predecessor. If a GPU were included here that really smoked the competition, we might be able to forgive the fact that we can't switch between discrete and IGP easily; but as it stands, even the discrete GPU isn't one worth writing home about compared to the original. The first Ion truly took netbook graphics to a new level; Ion 2 simply takes a baby step toward an even loftier level, at least here on the 1201PN. We can certainly recommend this unit to new netbook buyers; it's one of the best netbooks on the market. But it makes no sense whatsoever to consider an upgrade, even if you have a netbook that's well over a year old. The performance of this machine, in the middle of 2010, is barely better than machines available in the middle of 2009. That's just a fact of the slow moving netbook world, but it's one worth paying attention to if you've been bitten by the upgrade bug and are considering scratching it. All that said, there's no reason why Asus couldn't turn an Optimus enabled version of this machine around in fairly short order. We'll be waiting for that day to come, hopefully in the not so distant future.