Asus Eee Note EA800 hands-on

Asus' Eee Note EA800 is an interesting proposition. Not quite a tablet (it's mono for starters) and more than an ebook reader, it fits into a category all of its own.

Indeed, the sketch tablet, or note pad, may not be bought by those interested in the iPad or Kindle at all, rather artists, architects or shorthand specialists who'd rather use handwritten notes than typed documents.

The device comes with an 8 3/4-inch mono, antiglare 1024 x 768 resolution screen. And while it's black and white, it's crisp and can show 64 levels of greyscale.

It also comes with a touch pen that allows 256 levels of pressure to add different line weights, which is ideal for artists, who need precision. Obviously, that's not so important if you're just doodling during a meeting, but real artistic use needs more clarity.

The Eee Note runs on a Linux operating system, and has 4GB of internal memory, but a microSD card slot allows it to be upgraded by an extra 16GB. And, as the pictures you draw or take with its in-built 2-megapixel camera are in black and white, they're smaller in filesize anyway.

Speaking of which, the Eee Note can play or show a stack of other media types too, including MP3s through its proprietary media player, and popular ebook formats such as EPUB and PDF.

We are particularly impressed with the clarity of its screen, and the layout of the icons - which are very ebook reader-esque. But, like the iPad, it doesn't support Flash, so can make web browsing fragmented.

The build quality appears to be really good, as it has a full metal back that wraps around the sides and up onto the front of the device. But, it's hard to say about the rest of the Eee Note, as we don't think the one we've seen is a final production unit.

What we do notice though, is that the digitizer seems to fit slightly poorly at the front. However, we'll chalk that up to it not being a final build unit. Overall, it actually looks like Asus has taken a good look at the iPad, but a company representative told us that the company was worried that the metal makes it too expensive.

Certainly, its confirmed UK street price of £170 is reasonable for something that does much more that a conventional ebook reader. If not as much as an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

What do you think? Is there a call for a sketch tablet? Let us know in the comments below...