Netbooks are all about low price tags and portability. Incorporating a weight-inducing touchscreen into one and slapping a £450 price tag on it might, therefore, seem like an odd decision. However, that hasn’t stopped netbook-pioneer Asus from releasing a touch-based Eee PC in the form of the T101MT.
The display is of the twist-and-flip variety, allowing the T101MT to mimic an iPad or be used as a standard keyboard-based laptop. The hinge attaching the screen to the main chassis feels sturdy enough and manages to hold the display firmly in position. Ports are dotted on the left, right and rear sections of the chassis and include three USB, VGA-out and a multi-format card reader.
Like so many netbooks, the Eee PC T101MT uses an Intel Atom N450 processor clocked at 1.66GHz. However, at 2GB it has double the memory of most netbooks, which helps Windows tick along a bit smoother, especially when running multiple applications simultaneously. Intel’s GMA 3150 graphics chip is built into the processor core and is fine for general tasks, but it throws the towel in as soon as it’s troubled with 3D games and other graphic-intensive applications.
The 10.1-inch multi-touch display is of the resistive type. Unlike capacitive displays (think iPad, iPhone, iPod) that simply require the lightest of touches, resistive ones house several layers; when you push your finger on the screen, the layers collide and the touch action is registered. Thankfully the T101MT doesn’t require much in the way of pressure, but resistive displays do have their disadvantages, most notably that the layers impact on the quality of the display. And on the T101MT this is indeed an issue, with the screen taking on a rather nasty speckled effect; place it next to another netbook and you’ll instantly notice the difference.
Sat in a slot on the right side of the chassis is a small but well-weighted stylus, allowing you to scribble notes direct onto the display. Thankfully Asus has included the Home Premium version of Windows 7; most netbooks ship with the Starter edition, which doesn’t feature handwriting recognition. To improve the handwriting experience, the T101MT’s Pen Mode can be enabled, which basically turns off multi-touch and therefore means the palm of your hand won’t interrupt the handwriting process.
Of course, the small-size screen means handwriting is a fairly stuttered affair since there’s so little room to write in. We managed to successfully jot down a few notes, but it never felt particularly comfortable. Finger-based commands are just about possible, but the 1,024 x 600 pixel resolution means icons are very small. To help out, Asus includes a selection of applications with extra large buttons designed specifically for touch-based interaction, including a calculator, photo viewer and web browser.
Other specifications are fairly standard, although the hard drive is slightly bigger than average at 320GB. Bluetooth is omitted, but 802.11n wireless is present.
The keyboard is well designed with responsive keys and decent space between them, while the trackpad has a good texture to it. The left and right buttons feel a little spongy and could do with a bit more travel, but it’s not a major issue.
Netbooks are all about portability, so decent battery life is vital. When we put the T101MT through a fairly intensive testing session, the 48Wh battery managed keep going for nearly four hours. This is by no means poor, but there are plenty of netbooks that manage to last longer using a similar size of battery.
The touchscreen display adds a fair bit to the netbook’s dimensions and the thickness of 31mm makes it one of the chunkier models on the market. As expected, it’s also heavier than most 10.1-inch netbooks, though at 1.4kg it’s still very portable.
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