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ASUS 1015E-DS03 Notebook Intel Celeron 847 (1.1GHz) 2GB Memory 320GB HDD Intel HD Graphics 10.1
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: * Very inexpensive.
* Very small and light. It's light and thin enough that I barely notice it in a shoulder bag. The charging cable is also very light (no power brick, just a wall wart.)
* Matte screen, solid brightness level, and a better-than-netbooks screen resolution (1366x768).
* The performance is significantly better than that of an Atom-based netbook. It performs more like a standard budget notebook. I can run a browser with a lot of tabs open while I'm editing a large document in LibreOffice without any noticeable slowdown. It's not a Haswell i7, but it's solid for a budget mini-computer. The graphics performance is not incredible, but it successfully does things like stream YouTube at fullscreen and play DVDs.
* Adequate battery life -- maybe 6 hours.
* Decent keyboard despite the small size. I'd guess that it's ~90% the size of a full keyboard, but it's not hard to get around on. Asus has a lot of experience in this department.
* The computer seems reasonably well constructed.
* The lack of Windows is a pro for me -- otherwise I'd have just bought a Windows 8 computer and immediately wiped the hard drive and replaced it with some form of Linux. This is a matter of taste, however.
* No junkware. (Does Linux commercial junkware actually exist?) The default Ubuntu install is pretty standard. It's more of less what you'd get from a clean install, so you can use it out of the box without having to spend a tedious hour uninstalling useless antivirus software.
* The battery is removable and replaceable.
* It came in some solid and safe but fairly minimalist packaging, both the (unbleached and unglossy cardboard) Asus box and the shipping box from Newegg. It means less mess sitting around in my small apartment while I'm holding onto the packaging in case something goes wrong, and it also feels a lot less wasteful than some packaging I've seen recently. It's a little thing, but I appreciate it.
* Did I mention how inexpensive the machine is?

Cons: I should preface this by noting that the first two of these cons can be avoided by simply sticking to the default Ubuntu installation. The wifi and touchpad worked fine out of the box, and only became problematic when I started upgrading.

* The wifi uses a Broadcom 4313 chip. This has mediocre support in Linux, and is something of a problem. It's fine with the default install, but when I replaced the default with Xubuntu 13.04 I had difficulties. These were mostly solved by blacklisting some modules and then "sudo modprobe brcmsmac", but the wifi is still flaky enough that I'm using a $10 usb wifi dongle instead.
* The touchpad is small. It's also quite jumpy and oversensitive in the new installation. I've had to tone it down to make it usable. If you search for xinput and "synaptics finger" you'll find some pretty simple instructions.
* The machine runs slightly hot on the left side near the vent, and there is a bit of fan noise. Nothing egregious, but it's there.
* The hard drive is a bit noisy and not especially fast or large.
* You can't upgrade or replace the RAM, and swapping out the hard drive requires that you disassemble the machine.
* There is a small amount of flex in the center of the keyboard. I don't really notice it when I'm typing, but it's there.
* I like the screen resolution, but on the 10" screen some text and GUI features can get quite small. You can almost always tweak your way around the problem, but it's something that will always be there. This isn't anyone's fault, just an inevitable result of a relatively high resolution on a tiny screen.
* No optical drive. (Not that any other machine in this class has one.)
* I really don't like the Ubuntu default desktop, but you can fix this in a couple of minutes by installing XFCE or KDE or LXDE or what have you.

Other Thoughts: The 1015E really is what the netbook should have become 18 months ago. It's a pretty big jump in performance over most late-generation netbooks, has an adequate amount of RAM and hard drive space, and a screen resolution that finally allows you to see the entire . The machine is all plastic, but it feels pretty solid, and feels as though it should stand up to a reasonable amount of use and abuse. My list of cons was pretty long, and in a $750 ultrabook I would make more of them. But this (despite the marketing) is a netbook. The only other mainstream machines on the market at this size and price are Chromebooks, that require a bit of hackery to run a full desktop environment. Compared to its peers (so long as you don't want to run Chrome full time), this machine is a real winner. It's a niche product, but if you fall into that niche then it's an excellent choice.

My only hesitation in recommending it is the potential for wifi problems. If you are an experienced Linux user, or if you are content to stick with the system's defaults, then that's not a big deal. But it's something to be aware of.

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Kingston ValueRAM 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model KVR400X64C3AK2/1G
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month
AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Venice Single-Core 2.0GHz Socket 939 Processor ADA3200BPBOX
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

Pros: This was my first foray into an AMD product. I'm really surprised by how zippy it makes the system feel. At work I use a comparable product by a, uh, leading competitor and the Athlon feels a lot chirpier. It runs cool (under 40 C) with stock cooling.

Cons: The included heatsink fan is a beast to get on and off, and comes with a pre-applied thermal pad. Once that goes on the processor it's not easily coming off.

Other Thoughts: I run a Linux system that's used for basic office functions, web browsing, and the like. This processor is probably overkill for that, but the price jump from a slot 754 Sempron & motherboard to this wasn't that significant, and I feel it should have more lasting value. I'm quite happy with it.

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Nathaniel F.'s Profile

Display Name: Nathaniel F.

Date Joined: 04/07/06

  • Reviews: 5
  • Helpfulness: 2
  • First Review: 08/22/06
  • Last Review: 08/17/13
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