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Laptops Reviews
15,670 Reviews

RM Asus miniBook £169 laptop PC review

£169 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Asus

User Rating: Our users rate this 5 out of 10

At first glance the Research Machines (RM) Asus miniBook doesn’t seem like much, it’s tiny at 22.5cm wide, 16.5cm deep and just 3.5cm high. Plus, it weighs less than 1kg.

At first glance the RM (Research Machines) Asus miniBook doesn’t seem like much, it’s tiny at 22.5cm wide, 16.5cm deep and just 3.5cm high. Plus, it weighs less than 1kg.

Coupled with a white plastic chassis, a 7in screen and keyboard keys that are too small to be used comfortably, it looks more like an oversized PDA or advanced digital photo frame.

It’s only once you switch it on and use it for a few minutes that you begin to realise your jaw has dropped without you even knowing. The miniBook is something rather special.

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

The version we played with (the only one in the country as far as we know) was powered by a 900MHz Celeron-M and had 512MB of RAM. It runs the custom Debian Linux core and applications all run from a 4GB RAM drive with almost zero effort.

A quick look around the chassis reveals a plethora of ports and connectivity that makes it better supported than some of its far more expensive big brand sub notebooks. It has 3 USB 2.0 ports, 802.11b/g wireless, as well as a standard LAN port and a modem to ensure that you can connect from almost anywhere. A VGA connector, SD card slot and headphone socket fill up the remaining space around the chassis.

There is no CD or DVD drive on this device, and to be frank, it doesn’t need one. It also has 2 speakers mounted either side of the screen to assist the miniBook in video conferencing. With its inbuilt webcam and multimedia functions, the miniBook is very well equipped.

When you fire up the miniBook the first thing you really notice is the boot time, or lack of it. In fact, you will probably shut it down and reboot it just to make sure you weren’t bringing it out of sleep mode it’s that fast. The 4GB RAM drive is ideally suited to this kind of device.

Once the OS has loaded you are presented with what can only be described as a tabbed desktop with a taskbar at the bottom of the screen. The tabs, labelled, Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, Favourites, and of course Help are all stuffed with icons enabling you to perform almost any task you can think of. Selecting the settings tab reveals access to a host of features from the mundane volume control to the useful ‘Add\Remove Programs’ which uses a graphical utility to automatically download and install any extra applications you require. Unfortunately we did not have time to see this in operation.

Next page: bundled applications and expert verdict > >

RM Asus MiniBook Expert Verdict »

Kensington Lock Aperture
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery life is over 2.5 hours with wireless enabled for the 4G device, 2 hours for the 2G device
AC Adaptor - Universal 100-240V
a docking station is not available with this product
225x165x35mm
less than 1kg

As I said earlier, we had it for only an hour or so, but our first impressions are very strong. Providing no build gremlins creep in, we suspect the RM Asus miniBook is destined for a huge user and fan base, and more importantly, this could be the way that Linux finally emerges into the UK education sector at user level in massive quantities. RM Admitted to us that the profit margin on these is not very large, but boy, it is going to sell a lot of them.

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