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That damned screen January 31, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware, Ramblings.

Ok, here’s the whole other post.

The first thing people rag the Eeep about is the screen. (The keyboard is a far second,actually; that comes when they start typing on it.) There’s something fundamentally uncomfortable about not having an edge-to-edge LCD. It’s just not right.

But, like the keyboard, you learn to live with it.

It is truly, disconcertingly tiny though. I’m at the upper age limit of being able to tolerate a screen this size without resorting to visual aids; if I were a couple of years older, I’d actively hate this thing and would never buy it. But fate and Asus have conspired to make this thing here and now, when I can still use one without magnifying glasses, so here I am in front of it, gingerly typing and trying not to squint.

There is this faux computer under the VTech line, a toy for kids that purports to be more than what it is, which is a toy with an LCD screen that tries hard to look like a laptop. People in my neck of the woods would be familiar with it, but it goes under different labels and brands elsewhere. I’ve seen it on the shelves of Toys R Us in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. You’ve probably seen one.

The gray LCD screens of these VTech things are like postage stamps stuck dead-center on the front of a letter envelope; tiny in relation to the surface area of the lid. The EeePC looks a bit like it, which is why I (unfairly) dismissed it out of hand after seeing a prototype pic on the net. Ugh. Never work.

Until the raves started coming in, some from people I respect. True enough, after getting face time with one, I relented. I ate my words gladly. This was workable. It’s small, but I can live with it.

Now and then, when I’m caught off-guard and my familiarity isn’t instantly available, I’m struck by how much real estate is wasted in the wide plastic frame surrounding the Eeep screen. The speakers panels are a joke; the real speaker opening is a quarter-sized perforated area a third of the way down from the top on either side of the screen. Way too much speaker grille for its own good, and a flimsy way to cover up the smallness of the LCD.

(Granted, the speakers are louder than you’d expect. Watching DiVX files is great, sound-wise, but the grills have nothing to do with it.)

I’m not grousing as much as I should because in spite of myself, I am actually impressed by the EeePC screen’s usability and readability. It’s clear and bright, and it’s shown me that I can live beneath 1024 x 768. It’s amazing, really.

I’ve generally gotten used to the Eeep’s face, except in moments when I need to do the alt-click-drag routine on a window to get at a button. And there are those weird, awkward moments when even if a window is maxxed out, the lower dialogue buttons can’t be accessed no mattter what you do.

I also find the size and aspect ratio perfect for catching a movie fullscreen on VLC more than adequate. With the small size and lightness of the thing, I don’t drive the wife crazy using the thing in bed with it propped up on my chest, or at least not as much as if I was using the MacBook.

A friend-of-mine-who-must-not-be-named hit the mother lode of ebooks on some guy’s site, literally thousands of titles both old and new on nearly 5gb – enough to keep us busy reading until we’re old and gray. And setting the ebook reader to show a page rotated 90 degrees is perfect for just curling up with a black tea latte. I mean, I love the Books app on the iPhone, but something’s still to be said with a bigger screen like the Eeep’s.

I’m not as strident complaining about the screen as I am about the keyboard. If it could just eat up a couple of inches more of the bezel, I’d be a happy camper.



1. Vic - February 2, 2008

And speaking ofthe keyboard, thesensitivity (orlack of it) of the spacebardrivesme nuts…

2. reverseengineer - February 2, 2008

Eh? Might be a unit-specific thing, Vic. Mine seems fine. What bothers me is the trackpad button, which seems a bit tough to click sometimes,

3. Vic - February 2, 2008

Hmm yeah. Will have to do a comparo with your unit next time we meet up. Strangely, I have no problems with my trackpad button. Just think of it as two separate buttons (the left and the right) and ignore the middle part.

4. Vic - February 3, 2008

Aha. It seems I am not alone in my spacebar issues.


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