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Analysis: Asus' Eee PC versus the CloudBook

Which is the best £200 sub-notebook?

Back in October 2007, Taipei-based Asustek Computer Inc proved that less can be more with its £200 Eee PC.

Since then, other subnotebooks have followed (or are soon to follow) in the Eee PC's wake. However, only the Everex Everex CloudBook has dared to take the Eee PC head-on, matching its weight, screen and keyboard size, as well as its reliance on the Linux operating system, open-source applications and a $400 (£200) price tag.

The excitement around the CloudBook's public unveiling at CES in January has deflated, hurt by, among other things, a delayed release, originally due to ship in January, it finally became available in mid-February.

When I first reviewed the Asus Eee PC, I was rather critical of its shortcomings, including the difficult keyboard, small display and mediocre battery life. Time has since mellowed my feelings and I've learned to work around the system's limitations, which were dictated by the machine's small size and low cost. The question is: can I similarly forgive the CloudBook's faults and limitations?

Stats

The CloudBook comes equipped with a 1.2GHz VIA C7-M processor and 512MB, DDR2, 533MHz SDRAM. Unlike the Eee PC, which uses solid-state memory, the CloudBook offers a 30GB hard drive. Like the Eee PC, it offers a 7in, 800x480 pixel display. Connections include an Ethernet port, a DVI port, two USB ports, audio line-out/line-in ports and a four-in-one media card reader. There's also 802.11g/b Wi-Fi and a 300KB pixel webcam. It operates on a four-cell Lithium-ion battery that is rated to offer 2.5 to 3 hours of use.

Design

You know how some attractive people don't photograph well at all? That's the CloudBook's problem. None of the pictures I've seen (or taken myself), not even the stock photos put out by Everex Systems do this seriously handsome machine justice.

The CloudBook uses the same dark black plastic shell as the Lenovo ThinkPad. But unlike the ThinkPad , whose splashes of colour feel dated, the CloudBook goes the other way, achieving a snazzy 'black on black' effect. The pure obsidian case makes the CloudBook's orange LCD indicator lights even more striking. I also preferred Everex's cute green-leaf logo. Asus, by contrast, looks like it stole its font from the 1982 movie Tron.

The display is separated from the CloudBook's base by a 1in gap. This allows you to do two cool things: hold the CloudBook securely with one hand as you type or mouse with the other, and flip the screen a total of 270 degrees, compared with the Eee's 75-degree range of motion.

Bottom line: Ebony beats ivory. Edge to the CloudBook.

NEXT PAGE: We compare, the weight, video quality and storage capacity of the Eee and the CloudBook.

  1. The under £200 laptop battle
  2. We compare, the weight, video quality and storage capacity of the Eee and the CloudBook
  3. We rate the battery life, touch pad and WiFi capability of both machines
  4. Operating system and external ports
  5. Our final verdict


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