Budget laptops are ruling laptop volume sales at the moment, thanks to Chromebook, and that's been enough to make Asus take note. The company's new EeeBook X205 is a reimagination of the 2007 Eee PC in a refreshed format, some seven years on. If you're not looking for a Chrome OS setup then is the X205 the perfect Windows alternative?
Maybe it is. We got to play with the new EeeBook at the IFA trade show in Berlin and although the budget format isn't enough to blow us away, if you're after something cheap and cheerful then the X205 ticks plenty of boxes.
First off, this is a Windows 8 machine, albeit one minus a touchscreen so much of the tile-based Start menu is lost in use. At least it'll keep that 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 pixel resolution panel free from fingerprints though.
No Linux to be seen here like the original Eee PC, but Asus is trying to sell the system in a slightly different manner: there's a Bing search engine tie-in. All that means is rather than Google popping up by default you'll instead be met by Bing; Google can stay on Chromebooks seems to be the message here.
The thing that typically riles us about Chromebooks (except for the expensive ones) is how poor their typical screen viewing angles are. With the EeeBook it's not a giant leap ahead, as viewing anything but face-on fails to offer the same level of contrast as many other screens. It's usable, although we only saw the device in a dim-lit room rather than a more typical room sprinkled with daylight.
Plastic fantastic is order of the day with the EeeBook, as is to be expected at this budget end of the market. It's only a couple of hundred pounds after all. The white clamshell model we saw had an ample trackpad and full chiclet keyboard that, despite its plasticky build, were both comfortable in use. None of this compressed keys layout, which is great. Like we say, it ticks in the boxes.
Under the hood there's a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735 processor, 2GB RAM and 32/64GB storage to keep things ticking along. It's fan-free to be nice and quiet and although it won't deliver ultra power, it'll be spot on for web browsing and word processing - just like the earlier Eee PC was. History does have a habit of repeating itself, but this time around there's a fair bit more power for the equivalent cost, given the advances in computing in the last seven years.
Ports include two USB 2.0 sockets on one side, with a 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-HDMI, and a microSD card slot found on the other. All in order here.
Budget, plastic and not with the very best screen in the world. Sounds like a Chromebook then. But as a Windows-based alternative the X205 is definitely onto something for those seeking an ultra-affordable purchase. Price-wise the X205 won't break the £200 mark when it launches mid September - and that in itself assures some level of success.