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Asus Eee PC 1201PN

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Asus Eee PC 1201PN, however, only has a single core Atom N450 CPU to go with its Ion GPU, a combination that results in general performance that's weaker than its same priced predecessor. If the 1201N can be found for sale somewhere, it's probably the better buy for now. While the keyboard feel and general build of Asus Eee PC 1201PN are very similar to what we enjoyed in the 1201N before it, its limited processor slows things down, whereas the Ion graphics don't seem to add much more than what we'd already seen in Ion last year and, in some cases, it even seemed to offer less.

In a post iPad era, a Netbook has to offer a low price or an impressive performance, and this Asus really has neither. From the outside and inside, Asus Eee PC 1201PN looks a lot like both the 1201N we reviewed in early January and recent, more affordable Eee PC Netbooks. A plain, glossy black plastic lid that flaunts its fingerprints also comes in red or silver. Inside, more shiny black plastic frames an edge to edge raised Chiclet style keyboard. The double hinge on the lid straddles either side of a battery that has minimal bulge on Asus Eee PC 1201PN's bottom and fits right into the back.

The keyboard's easy to type on and comfortable to work at on a desk or perched in one's lap. The dimpled multitouch touchpad below is flush with the rest of the keyboard deck but responds well to finger gestures. A thin chromed plastic rocker bar for button pressing could have been a little more ergonomic. The LED-backlit 12.1 inch glossy LCS screen has a native resolution of 1.366 x 768 pixels, which matches most laptop displays around 13 and 14 inches. Most importantly, it's a common resolution; browser windows and other programs won't feel shoehorned in like they do with the pixel restrictions on most 10 and 11 inch Netbooks.

Images and video looked as bright and crisp as they did on the Eee PC 1201N we reviewed previously. The stereo speakers on this laptop, embedded on the front bottom edge of the base, are notably louder than other Netbooks. They don't exactly produce well defined music, but we appreciate their volume for TV viewing. Above the screen, a 0.3 megapixel Webcam offers video conferencing and picture taking capabilities, with a passable frame rate and middle of the road image quality.

To its credit, Asus Eee PC 1201PN includes Bluetooth but it better at this price. HDMI is common on any non-Apple laptop, but in the case of this Ion equipped Netbook you might find it more useful than with others, as Nvidia promises smooth 1080p playback of video files on an external HDTV. While that's nice, we imagine more people will want to stream video onto an HDTV (for Hulu, for instance, or YouTube).

Streaming video playback, which relies on Adobe Flash 10.1, worked well sometimes and stuttered at others depending on the site and level of graphic overlay. 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive are increasingly standard offerings for higher end Netbooks. Windows 7 Home Premium is preinstalled, which is an improvement over the Windows 7 Starter many Netbooks offer.

While Asus Eee PC 1201PN is technically the first Netbook with next gen Nvidia Ion graphics, the CPU is decidedly current gen. Unlike the dual core Atom processor we saw in the innovative but hot running Asus Eee PC 1201PN, the single core Atom N450 at the heart of this Netbook is the same one in nearly every Netbook currently for sale. Its performance when augmented with its Nvidia Ion integrated GPU does fair better than other competitors, but Asus Eee PC 1201PN actually is a slower laptop than its dual core predecessor, which cost the same back in January. If you can find the 1201N on sale somewhere, you'll have a faster Netbook.

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