ASUS Eee PC T101MT review
Eee PC T101MT
- Convertible form factor
- Comfortable netbook keyboard
- Basic design
- Resistive touchscreen
- Comes with Windows 7 Starter edition
- Touch layer isn't very polished
Look and feel
Size-wise, the 1.2-inch T101MT is thick, but at 2.8-pounds it's comparable in weight to other netbooks out there. In slate mode, we wouldn't say it was cumbersome to hold it in the crook of our arm, but something about it didn't feel as comfortable as the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t. Learning from its mistakes with the T91, ASUS managed to cram three USB ports, an Ethernet, VGA, mic / headphone jacks and an SD card slot around the chassis.
Keyboard and touchpad
Screen and touch experience
For a resistive panel, the touchscreen is actually quite responsive, though unsurprisingly requires a firmer press to make selections. But since we have become so accustomed to using capacitive tablets we had to get the hang of having to really give icons a firm press or use a fingernail to maneuver through menus. Multitouch gestures are just not as smooth as they should be – there's just something unnatural about having to firmly press two fingers down on the screen to scroll. The stylus, which pops out of the right side of the screen, was pretty much our best friend given the display frustrations and the lack of finger-friendly software. ASUS' included PenWrite software is supposed to optimize the finger touch experience, but we didn't really notice much of a difference when using the utility.
And this brings us to the "uh, we just don't get it" question: why in the world would ASUS ship a $499 multitouch-capable tablet with an operating system that doesn't support multitouch or even have integrated touch capabilities? That's right, the T101MT ships with Windows 7 Starter, which -- regardless of not supporting pinch-to-zoom or two-finger scrolling gestures -- doesn't include handwriting recognition or an onscreen keyboard. The company does make up for the latter concern by including SoftStylus' keyboard, but you have to manually bring it up anytime you want to input text (i.e. into the address bar), and the handwriting recognition is quite sluggish. It's for those reasons that we spent most of our time with the netbook in clamshell mode. When we did flip it into tablet mode, the stylus didn't leave our hand since the OS doesn't let you drag a finger up or down the screen to scroll or flick to move through pages. Even though ASUS does include its TouchGate software layer, it's really just enlarged shortcuts -- if we had to pick the "killer touch app," it'd be the big-buttoned calculator. Yeah, it just isn't a good situation.
To say the netvertible with Windows 7 Starter is lousy is an understatement, but how is it when you upgrade it yourself to Windows 7 Home Premium? (Note: it's a $49 upgrade from Starter to Home Premium.) Sure, it's better, but the resistive touchscreen still makes things easier with the stylus. When we surfed the web in slate mode we preferred to input URLs with the pen on the virtual keyboard, and as we mentioned before, two-finger scrolling required a firm press and was ever-so-janky. We do see the touchscreen being helpful to those that want to take notes – it was a bit slow, but our handwriting was accurately converted to text in Microsoft Word. The T101MT doesn't have an accelerometer, so you have to rotate the screen by holding down the button on the bottom bezel – we'd actually be okay with that if we didn't have to wait five seconds every time we wanted to rotate the screen.
Performance and battery life
The T101MT's four-cell, 35Wh battery lasted four hours and 13 minutes on our video rundown test with brightness set to 65 percent. That's actually not too bad for a netbook with a flush battery, and in real usage it lasted a bit closer to five hours. The battery oddly ejects from the bottom-front of the system so even if you do pick up an extra it wouldn't be higher capacity. Like other ASUS laptops we've recently reviewed, the T101MT comes with a cluttered desktop – we could really do without all of the ASUS utilities and eBay / Boingo deleteware. You can also head into ASUS' ExpressGate Instant-On OS before booting up Windows, but in all honesty we never really spend much time in those pre-boot environments.