Had the chance these days to play with the Asus EEE PC 1215B for a little while, thanks to my good friends at Asus who sent me a sample model.
I’ve been expecting this one for a while, as it promised to be overall better than the Asus 1215N, in terms of performances, battery life and pricing.
Reading the review below will help you find out whether the Asus 1215B managed to live up to the expectations or not, as I will speak thoroughly about each important aspect of this device.
Once again, I do have to say that this is yet a sample unit and although the guys at Asus ensured us it’s very close to the final version that will be available in stores soon, take the results with grain and salt (as some aspects can be improved on the final release).
Update: One year later now, the Asus EEE PC 1215B got a successor, the 1225B. With a new design, some slight improvements and still an excellent price, the 1225B EEE PC promises to be as appreciated as the 1215B. See my thorough review of the Asus 1225B for more details.
First, let’s take a quick look at the specs to see what we can expect from this Asus 1215B 12 incher:
- 12.1 inch LED backlit display, 1366 x 768 px resolution, glossy
- AMD Brazos APU with AMD E-350 dual core processor and integrated AMD graphics
- 4 GB DDR3 memory
- 320 GB hard-drive
- Wireless N, Bluetooth 3.0, Gigabit LAN
- one USB 2.0 slot and two USB 3.0 slots, VGA, HDMI, headphone/mic, card-reader, webcam
- Windows 7 Home Premium OS
- 6 Cell 5200 mAh 56 Wh battery
- measures 11.6 x 8 x 1.5 inches
- weighs 3.2 pounds
Design and exterior
The 1215B inherits the seashell body shape from the 1215N. In fact, on the outside, both these devices are identical. Lid is covered in smooth rubbery matte plastic while the bottom comes with a textured finish. The matte plastic especially feels really nice and looks good, although smudges and fingerprints are visible on this black finish we had on our desks.
Overall the 1215B is a looker and is portable too, weighing just above 3 pounds with the included battery, which is fairly OK for a 12 incher.
Opening the lid, you’ll notice that palm rest and trackpad are covered with the same matte plastic used for the exterior. However, area around keyboard and display are made from glossy black plastic and while they look very nice on a new laptop, will scratch and catch smudges like crazy in time.
On the back, there’s the battery and a special bay for easy accessing RAM, where you get two memory slots.
More about the exterior can be found in this clip below.
As for port layout, the images below should answer any of your questions. Notice that there’s nothing missing and you get two USB 3.0 slots on one side.
Keyboard and trackpad
Pretty good keyboard and trackpad on this one, but nothing actually changed from the 1215N.
So, there’s the same chiclet style keyboard with Full-size keys and enough space between them. This time I got to review an unit with the US layout and there’s nothing to say bad about it: proper sized enter, shift, ctrl and other often used keys so overall the keyboard will be comfortable to use by pretty much all of you, even the ones with bigger hands/fingers.
Still, I don’t like the flex you get especially in the middle and right side of the keyboard, plus the keys feel quite cheap. The rubbery finish Asus uses on their top EEE PCs (like the 1015PX for instance) would have been a nice addition on the 1215B.
Trackpad is also identical to the one on the 1215N. Proper sized, separated from palm rest by two silver-plastic bars, it is both accurate and fairly smooth during everyday use. Comes of course with multi-touch and gestures supported and there’s a single click button, but fairly comfortable and easy to press.
The same 12.1 inch display we’ve seen on the old 1201N 2 years ago is present on the 1215B as well: standard 12.1 inch resolution and glossy finish, thus using it outside will be a bummer. The glossy bezel around won’t help either.
Brightness and colors are fairly good on this screen, but viewing angles, especially vertical ones, could definitely be improved. And there’s the same design problem I hate on laptops: screen only leans back to around 120-130 degrees, so using the laptop while in bed or on your couch can be uncomfortable.
Hardware and performances
While the 1215N and the 1215B are identical on the outside, they are completely different inside. The EEE PC 1215B comes with this new generation AMD Brazos hardware, boosting a Zacate APU with a dual-core E-350 processor clocked at 1.66 GHz and some powerful integrated graphics from AMD. Add 4 GB of memory (only around 3.6 actually usable by the OS, as the shared graphic chip will need the rest ) and you get a nice configuration. Storage drive is a standard 5400 rpm HDD, but you can replace that one with a fast 7200rpm one or an SSD if you want to make the 1215B even faster.
This new hardware from AMD manages to give enough punch to the 1215B. Windows 7 runs fine and your daily apps should be snappy as well. However, the real benefit over the 1215N is visible in graphic applications, like playing HD content and games. The 1215N with Nvidia ION had great graphic potential but there was one big problem: the bottleneck created by using PCI-E to connect the graphic chip with the rest of the computer. The 1215B no longer has such problems, thus it managed to outperform the 1215N in pretty much all the tests we’ve run, bot practical or synthetic.
In the clips below you can see I’ve tried running a couple of types of HD content on this one and all played flawlessly, with enough resources to spare. I’ve tried a high bitrate 1080p mkv file, a raw AVCHD clip straight from the camera and a 1080p Blu-ray RIP and none were a problem for this little laptop. Nor was the 1080p clip streamed from Youtube and of course you can always output this content on a bigger display via HDMI.
And the second part of the clip.
Also ran a couple of games, like Fifa 11, COD modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, Battlefield and others, and while not all of them were able to run decently, I can say the 1215B is still more capable in games than the 1215N I’ve tested a while ago was (Please see this comment of mine for more details about this, because in benchmarks the 1215B is slower than the 1215N, but when actually testing games, things were the other way around, based on what happened to me when I tested the 1215N).
There are also a bunch of synthetic tests I’ve ran and you can find the results below.
I’m also planning on putting together a post comparing the 1215N and the 1215B so look for that in the near future.
This laptop comes with Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled and a bunch of bloatware on top. Still, on this particular model we got to test there weren’t too many things installed (those pesky Office and Trend Micro Security Trials for instance were missing), but I doubt the final version will lack them when it will hit the stores.
You know what you have to do though: get rid of all the unwanted apps and keep the processes running in background to a bare minimum, thus you experience with this low power laptop will get better.
Connectivity and ports
Not much to say in terms of connectivity, as this one comes with the standard features offered on small laptops these days. You get Wireless N, Bluetooth and Gigabit LAN, but no option for 3G.
As for ports, we do have to mention the two USB 3.0 slots which are in my eyes a must on a computer launched in 2011. Besides that, you get good video out options, with VGA and HDMI, mic/headphone jacks, card-reader and all the other standard features.
Heat, noise, speakers and others
Based on previous experiences with AMD platforms on portable laptops, one would expect the Asus 1215B to have problems with heat and noise, but that’s not really the case. Both the top and the bottom of the device only get worm during playing games or HD content, but not hot. As for noise, this one ain’t a problem either.
Speakers do provide a lot of punch for such a little machine so they are definitely loud. Quality ain’t bad either, but not really impressive.
There’s also a webcam on top of the screen but there’s few things we can say about it: will do its job in good light conditions but in dim light you might not be that satisfied with it. Still, webcam ain’t really a priority for me that’s why I consider the one on the 1215B to be good enough for the everyday user.
Due to the fact that I only got the 1215B for a very short time I could not conduct any accurate battery tests. Still, on everyday use with writing, browsing, chatting, listening to music, watching some clips with Wireless ON and Screen Brightness set to around 80%, the 6 Cell 5200 mAh 56 Wh battery inside the 1215B averaged around 5 hours of life, which is for sure better than I was expecting and better than the 1215N averaged.
So if you feared the AMD hardware inside the 1215B will negatively affect its autonomy, rejoice, that’s not at all the case with Brazos.
I will try and get the 1215B back again in the near future and get together some proper battery tests, till then though, that’s the best I can give you given the very short time I got with it.
Availability and prices
While we know nothing for sure right now, Asus announced the 1215B will hit the stores in April with prices starting at $449. You’ll probably only get 2 GB of memory and not 4 for that kind of money, but that still makes the 1215B 50 bucks cheaper than the 1215N.
Update: The Asus EEE PC 1215B is finally shipping in the US. List price goes for $449 with only 2 GB of memory (1 x 2 GB module) and NO USB 3.0 slot (comes with 3 x USB 2.0 slots). It is available online on Newegg.com and Amazon.com (with a small discount and Free Shipping included here).
After seeing the Vayo YB in action and reading review for laptops like the HP Dm1 and the Lenovo ThinkPad e120x, my expectation from an AMD powered Asus 12 incher were high. Luckily, the 1215B actually managed to live to pretty much all of them.
Nothing changed on the outside from the 1215N, there’s the same seashell body covered in matte rubbery plastic, same keyboard, trackpad and display. However, the 1215B is faster than the 1215N, especially in terms of graphics, so will be able to deal with any kind of HD content and some modern games as well. Plus, you get superior battery life and a smaller price.
All these make the 1215B a winner. And with the 1215N being a popular pick, I’m pretty sure the 1215B will get its share of fame, although some might fear picking an AMD powered laptop these days (but there’s no reason to, as the new Fusion platform really is impressive).
It will face tough competition though, from the likes of Sony Vaio YB, Lenovo ThinkPad X120e or HP Pavilion Dm1, but that’s always good for us, end users. I do feel however Asus might be a little too late to the dance with this one, don’t you think?
Update: And don’t forget, the Asus EEE PC 1225B is now available in stores and we already reviewed it here on the site, the slightly improved and more up-to-date version of the 1215B.
As always, your feedback and opinions are much appreciated, so please leave a comment if you have anything to say or to ask.