The Eee PC S101 might be more accurately regarded as an ultraportable laptop rather than a netbook, and its price reflects this. However, we were impressed with its quality and found it more usable than many of the ultra-small netbooks.
The Asus Eee PC S101 takes the company's mini laptop line upmarket, but also pushes up the price significantly, bringing it more in line with full-sized portables that have more power and bigger screens.
Available now, the Eee PC S101 is larger than earlier Eee PC models, and uses the space to fit in a 10.2in display and a more spacious keyboard. The underlying specification remains much the same as most other so-called netbook models, which makes it desirable but pricey by comparison.
In tests, we found this model much more pleasant to use than some rival models. It has a comfortable keyboard that bears comparison with that of a full-sized laptop, yet it weighs just a tad over 1Kg and has a footprint smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. It also feels reasonably sturdy, and should easily survive being carried around in a briefcase.
For business users, the Eee PC S101 should prove a nice machine to work on while out on the road, with the usual caveat that it ships with Windows XP Home edition, which lacks several features of Windows XP Professional, the most important being the ability to join a corporate domain and come under Group Policy management. It also lacks corporate features such as a Trusted Platform Module security chip and fingerprint scanner.
The new Asus has a specification that is now common for netbooks: a 1.6GHz Intel N270 Atom processor, 1GB of memory, and a 16GB Flash solid state drive (SSD) instead of a standard hard drive. The Linux-based version of this model has 2GB of memory and a 32GB or 64GB SSD instead.
We found that the Eee PC S101 had quite reasonable performance for running most software, especially the kind of tools you might want to access while travelling. Its Winstone 2004 benchmark score reflects this, which at 13.5 is not far off the scores we have seen from some larger laptops, and about 40 per cent higher than Dell's Inspiron Mini, which we tested recently. The reason for this seems to be the faster Flash SSD that Asus has fitted to the Eee PC S101.
Our review model had a 4900mAh lithium polymer battery pack, which lasted for two hours and 59 minutes when we tested the system using the Battery Eater Pro version 2.70 benchmark.
This was for the 'Classic' mode, which simulates use of the laptop. With the 'Reader' mode, which simulates someone just reading the screen, the system lasted for four hours and 12 minutes. This suggests that the Eee PC S101 has a slightly longer battery life than some other mini laptops, especially earlier Eee PC models.