If you for some reason thought netbooks are dead and buried, you were wrong. Yes, they’re not riding the wave like a couple of years ago, but tens of millions of these little babies left the shops in 2011. Asus will continue its presence on this market in 2012, and one of their new 10 inchers to hit the stores early next year is the Asus EEE PC X101CH.
You’re probably already familiar with the Asus X101H, their cheapest, slimmest and lightest Windows powered netbook right now. Well, the X101CH is its direct successor, boosting a new Intel Cedar Trail Atom platform and a couple of design and architectural changes. The unit I just got is a testing sample, but 99% identical to what we’re going to find in shops around the world by February 2012.
On the exterior, the new 10 incher is pretty much identical to the current X101 line, the only notable difference being the matte screen’s bezel, a long time awaited change. There’s the same textured matte case, the same bottom with no memory access bay , the same keyboard and the same trackpad. However, on the left side you now get a HDMI port, and that means this fellow can output HD video content towards a bigger display.
The goodies are actually inside, as this one boosts a new platform, with a dual-core Intel Atom N2600 CPU clocked at 1.6 GHz, new and more powerful Intel Graphics, 1 GB of memory and 320 GB HDD. You also get Wireless N, Bluetooth and the platform runs on Windows 7 Starter. The bundle is completed with a 3 Cell 23 Wh 2200 mAh battery. The Atom N2600 is one of Intel’s new entry level CPUs, meant to provide decent performances and efficiency for budget devices like this one.
Now, for an unboxing, I can’t tell you much on performances, so look for more articles in the next days, I’m going to run some benchmarks and put together some comparisons with current generation Intel Atom PineTrail processors, but also with AMD’s Ontario platforms for netbooks. Based on a first impression though, the X101CH ain’t very slow (especially when compared to the single core Atoms that equip current cheap netbooks) and it can handle pretty well 720p video content from Youtube, while 1080p clips were a bit sluggish. However, as you can see in the video bellow, I’ve ran those on Internet Explorer on a brand new out-of-the box PC, with all the preinstalled bloatware in place. Once I get rid of the unneeded software and install Chrome, performance should actually get considerably better.
Of course, the X101CH might not seem like a big upgrade over the X101 line, but this is probably going to be Intel’s cheapest EEE PC in 2012. The X101 is hardly available in the States now and prices started for around $220 when it was. My money are on a $199 price tag for the X101CH, but maybe not with this processor. This particular config is going to land in Europe for about 220-230 euros, and is probably going to replace the Asus 1011PX/PXD lines, just under the EEE PC 1025C/CEs, Asus’s premium 10 inchers in the near future. And a decently fast 10 incher for under $250, maybe less, still sounds good, as I’m sure many of you still need inexpensive laptops even today.
Update: The prices for the US market are now available and you can find the X101CH in stores over here.
Of course, the Asus EEE PC X101CH and netbooks in general are no longer meant for established markets, so while Americans or Europeans might rather get a faster 11.6 or 12 inch mini laptop, shoppers in developing countries from Asia, Africa or Eastern Europe are still going to look for budget netbooks next year, and probably in the years to come.
That’s about it for now, but look forward for the tests and the review available in the next days. Till then, check out my video unboxing and a couple of pictures below.
And some pictures:
UPDATE: Due to some NDA issues regarding the Intel Atom CedarTrail line (which nor I or my friends as Asus were aware off), I will have to postpone the review till mid January 2012, after CES. I’m sorry for that but there’s just nothing I can do about it.