The netbook phenomenon has come to an end; it’s a term that’s now slowly disappearing from the market. However, this doesn’t stop the launch of low-power, portable notebooks. The launch of Windows 8 also means the dawn of new notebooks, PCs and tablets. Asus’ new F201E is one of these new notebooks to come bundled with a Windows 8 Pro license.
Design and build quality
The Asus F201E has a 11.6-inch screen, which makes it look a bit like a netbook. And to some extent, it does resemble one. The entire body is made of plastic with the top having a slightly textured feel to it. When you hold the F201E in your hand, it does feel sturdy and stable unlike some of the cheaper netbooks we’ve come across.
Not a bad looking notebook for sure
The keyboard is fairly large sized, so unlike netbooks, it’s actually quite usable. You no longer have to squeeze your hands to fit the size of the keyboard. The keys are coloured white and go well against the silver-grey shade of the rest of the insides of the body. The function keys at the top are somewhat smaller and difficult to access. Even the directional keys are small and very poorly spaced on the right. The keys are very light and require close to no effort to use, so typing is easy.
The trackpad has no divisions made for the two mouse clicks, except for a small marker. The clicks are a little hard, but the trackpad in general is decent. It does a good job when it comes to making swipe gestures in Windows 8.
Pretty slim and easy to carry around
The hinge of the F201E is also very sturdy, so the screen stays quite stable and you have to put some pressure into tilting the screen when you need to, which is a good thing.
The F201E isn’t a workstation-class notebook by any means. It runs a rather unimpressive Intel Celeron 847, a low-power dual-core processor that runs at 1.10GHz. The processor belongs to the Sandy Bridge line of processors from Intel. For storage, there’s a decent-sized 320GB Western Digital hard drive. The notebook features only 2GB of onboard memory and runs a 64-bit version of Windows 8 Pro on it. The 11.6-inch screen runs a standard resolution of 1366 x 768.
USB 3.0 and other connectors on the left side
The right lower corner houses all the status indicators for the notebook, including Wi-Fi and Caps Lock status. There’s one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports on the sides. There’s also an HDMI port, something you don’t find in most mainstream notebooks. Even though the ASUS F201E is pretty thin, there’s still space for a D-Sub port and a collapsible Ethernet port. The power adapter that’s bundled with the notebook is smaller than the ones found on other notebooks, and it’s wall-mounted.
The ASUS F201E is really slow when it comes to the tests. The Celeron 847 is ridiculously slow when you pit it against any decent entry-level Intel Core i3 processor. This means, it’s left crawling well behind any mederately good entry-level notebook priced over Rs. 25,000.
Chiclet-style keyboard on the F201E
For instance, it takes 115 seconds on the ASUS F201E to compress a 100MB file—a task that would take roughly 35 seconds on other mainstream notebooks. It’s the same case with video encoding – where other notebooks take two and a half minutes to encode a particular video, the ASUS F201E takes close to eight minutes to complete the same task.
D-Sub output on a thin notebook
Mainstream benchmarks such as PC Mark 7 run very slowly, nearly coming to a standstill in many tests. At the end, it manages to secure an overall score of 1457, easily less than half of most notebooks. Realworld CPU tests such as Cinebench 11 throw up scores of 0.74 points as compared to 2.4 points on most other notebooks.
There’s also heating up on the left rear of the notebook, which can be noticed some minutes into a benchmark or if you run some heavy software. This is because of the vent that’s placed near the hinge; some of the air even escapes into the keyboard. There are no other cooling vents anywhere on the notebook.
Keyboard and trackpad are more spacious than most netbooks
The glossy screen is bright and better than the ones you’ll find on most notebooks, but it’s not great as such. You’ll be able to notice some banding and patches in images, but not so much in motion pictures.
A low-power notebook means a higher battery life with the possibility to go further on a single charge. We run a battery test that renders a model non-stop till the battery dies. In Asus F201E's case, the battery died within two and a half hours of starting the test. This is higher than the usual norm of under two hours.
Verdict and Price in India
Works like a larger, more usable netbook
The Asus F201E may be categorised as a notebook, but it does behave only a bit better than a netbook in many ways. It’s got slightly better performance than a netbook, good battery life and a compact design. If you were looking for a slightly larger netbook with better build quality and a usable keyboard, then this might be a good purchase. If you go by pure features and performance, the F201E isn’t exactly good value for money for a price tag of Rs. 25,999 here in India.
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