The ASUS Flare Eee PC 1025C is the latest netbook release from the company that practically invented the netbook genre. The Asus X101CH is essentially the same as the 1025C but with a 50% smaller sized battery. While the onslaught of innovative tablet releases has thrown cold water on once hot netbook sales, there is still an audience for those that want a cheap portable laptop and need a keyboard for input. A touchscreen is great for browsing and can suffice for quick emails, but typing long documents or coding using touch screen input is a pretty torturous and slow process. And since the latest Eee PC Flare series is half the price of the Apple iPad 3, it’s within reach of a lot more buyers. We’ll cover the ups and downs of the Asus Eee PC 1025C and X101CH in this review.
First let’s cover the specs of the Asus 1025C under review:
- Model Number: ASUS 1025C-MU 17-BK Eee PC Flare
- Processor: Intel Atom N2600 1.6GH Dual Core
- Graphics: Intel GMA 3600
- Screen: 10.1-inch WSVGA (1024 x 600)
- Memory: 1GB RAM
- Storage: 320GB HD 5400RPM
- OS: Windows 7 Starter
- Ports: 3 USB 2.0, headphone jack, microphone jack, Ethernet RJ-45, VGA, HDMI, SD card reader
- Dimensions: 10.3” x 7.0” 0.82 – 1.35” (Width x Depth x Height)
- Weight: 2.75lbs for Asus 1025C / 2.20lbs for Asus X101CH
- Battery: 6-cell Li-Ion (46 Whr) up to 12.5 hours for 1025C / 3-cell Li-Ion (23 Whr) up to 4.5 hours for X101CH
Asus 1025C / X101CH Video Overview
We put together a 4 minute video that gives an overview of this netbook, check it out below:
Asus 1025C Vs. 1025CE Vs. X101CH
There’s a lot of confusion over the fact that Asus released three netbooks that are very similar, yet not quite the same. The unit under review here is the Asus 1025C, it is different to the X101CH in the following ways:
- The X101CH has no fan (fanless design) while the Asus 1025C and 1025CE do have a fan to dissipate heat
- The X101CH has a 3-cell 23-WHr battery while the Asus 1025C has a larger 6-cell 46-WHr battery
- The X101CH weighs 2.20lbs while the Asus 1025C weighs 2.75lbs, this heavier weight is due to the larger battery
- The Asus 1025CE has an Intel Atom N2800 1.86GHz processor, the 1025C and X101CH have an Intel N2600 1.60GHz processor
Design and Build
The design of the Asus Flare Eee PC is much improved over the very earliest Eee PC release that was all white and made of cheap plastic. The sides of the 1025C are actually metal, giving an enhanced look although not doing a whole lot for build quality. The palm rests and keyboard area is made of plastic with a matte finish designed to resist fingerprints. The lid is likewise made of plastic, but again it’s not a flimsy cheap plastic, it’s rigid and strong enough to protect the screen and only minor ripples appear when you push in on the back.
The 1025C weighs in at 2.75lbs while the X101CH weighs 2.20lbs. The half pound of weight savings is certainly significant with the X101CH, but you sacrifice about 6 hours of battery life. Worth it? Depends on your needs and budget, you save $30 by going with the smaller battery in the X101CH. If you don’t need much battery life, then of course the lighter weight may in fact be appealing. Either way, at under 3lbs you’re barely going to feel the weight of this thing in your backpack.
There is a selection of colors for the Flare Eee PC series. We have black, which is professional and non-obtrusive looking. There’s also a white and pink option. White looks a little cheap in our opinion, the pink will certainly appeal to females, and possibly some males because who are we to make assumptions of color taste?
One thing you will notice about the Eee PC 1025C from the side is that it has a pretty wicked slope, the battery raises the back up quite a ways, at the front the thickness starts at 0.82” and goes up to 1.3” at the back.
The Asus 1025C has a 10.1” diagonal screen with a 1024 x 600 resolution. The low resolution means you can’t fit a whole lot on the screen, it’s a tight squeeze for all your desktop icons if you have a messy desktop like me and viewing long web pages involves lots of scrolling. Add to those detriments the fact the screen is a little grainy and viewing angles so-so and you end up with a sub par screen viewing experience. This has always been the knock against 10.1” screen netbooks, in order to keep price down the screen resolution and quality is sacrificed. At least the brightness is good, you’ll probably need to dim the screen from its top brightness for comfortable indoor viewing.
Below are some pictures of the Asus Eee PC Flare’s screen from various viewing angles:
The Asus 1025C has the new Intel Atom “Cedar Trail” family N2600 processor. It’s a dual core processor that has a very low power consumption. The power consumption is so low in fact that the Eee PC Flare is fanless and the 12 hours of battery life is possible due to the power sipping ways of the 1025C. All that said, the Intel Atom N2600 is not a powerful processor, the main improvement over the earlier Atom processors is the lower power consumption. To get an idea of how poor the performance is check out how the PCMark Vantage score of 1,483 PCMarks compares to other laptops with more powerful Intel and AMD processors:
|Laptop||PCMark Vantage Score|
|Asus Eee PC 1025C (Intel Atom N2600 1.60GHz, 1GB RAM, 320GB 5400RPM HD)||1,483 PCMarks|
|HP ENVY 14 Spectre (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)||9,445 PCMarks|
|Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i5-2476M 1.60GHz, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)||9,826 PCMarks|
|HP Folio 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)||9,026 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM)||7,007 PCMarks|
|Dell Vostro 1440 (Intel Core i3-370M, Intel HD, 6GB RAM)||4,931 PCMarks|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 – Intel Core i7-2630qm, Nvidia 550M 1GB, 8GB RAM, Intel SSD||12,160 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM||6,056 PCMarks|
|Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM||5,901 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM||5,285 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM||3,204 PCMarks|
Aside from the slow processor, the Eee PC 1025C also has a ridiculous 1GB of memory working against it. That and the slow 5400RPM hard drive. When you consider laptops with an SSD and Core i-7 processor score 10 times better you can see how internal components really do matter. The most unfortunate thing is that the memory is not easily upgradeable, you simply cannot access a slot to stick in more memory, upgrading memory is a lot of work and involves taking the laptop apart. Bottom line, you’re pretty much stuck with the performance you get out of the box unless you have some tech savvy and steady hands.
It’s not all bad news though. You’ll of course be able to do all the normal tasks you’re used to doing such as web browsing, word pressing (MS Word, Google Docs), image editing. You’ll just have to limit the number of browser tabs you have open and be aware you can’t run 10 things at the same time or you’ll get some slowdown and sluggish performance.
Some good news is that the graphics performance of the Intel integrated graphics is good enough to play 1080p video, and since you have an HDMI port you can play that back on a larger screen TV to get the full HD effect not possible on the small screen of the 1025C. High resolution Flash video on YouTube in 720p or 1080p is no problem either. For some, that might be the most demanding thing you use a computer for, and if that’s you then the sub-par performance of the the Eee PC Flare won’t be a big issue.
Keyboard and Touchpad
This is a 10” screen laptop and only about 10” across in width. That’s not enough space for a full sized keyboard, and as such the keys are shrunken. For those with big hands that’s going to be a big issue. I have smaller than average sized hands for a male, and still had plenty of issues mistyping. The biggest challenge for this reviewer was being able to consistently find the Shift key. When you type a lot you need to use Shift a lot for capitalization (assuming you’re not on Twitter where correct grammar and punctuation goes out the window) so this is not a recommended device for typing your PhD. Thesis paper on.
Another annoyance is the fact that certain keys are combined into others, the PgUp, PgDn, Home and End keys are merged into the arrow keys and you have to use the Fn + Arrow key to perform each cursor movement shortcut. Add to all this the fact the keys feel somewhat chintzy and like they could pop off if your nail gets caught underneath and the overall typing experience is poor. It’s fine to bang out a few short emails, type in a URL or use Facebook – just don’t try typing long papers on it.
The touchpad is actually a pleasant surprise in that it’s not horrendously small and is wide enough move the cursor from side to side easily on the screen. It works well, nothing negative to report. The mouse buttons below the touchpad have a chrome accent, which unfortunately picks up fingerprints like a magnet, quite a strange choice when ASUS went out of their way to make the rest of the laptop finish matte and resistant to fingerprints. Oh well, the mouse clicker works well for left and right clicks which is what’s important.
Finally, an aspect of the Asus 1025C we can really rally around and speak praise of. Asus advertises 12.5 hours of battery life, when turning screen brightness down to half, leaving wi-fi on and leaving a browser open that refreshed every 60 seconds we were able to achieve 11 hours and 50 minutes of on time before the Eee PC 1025C went into hibernate. That’s pretty incredible, but at the same time remember it was not a typical usage scenario. If you’re playing video and multi-tasking the battery life would probably dip to the 9 – 10 hour range. We never used the laptop for that long straight, it’s hard to imagine exactly who would want to work and type on a netbook for 10+ hours. If you’re flying from New York to Tokyo, maybe this laptop is for you though.
The input and output selection of ports on the Asus 1025C is definitely respectable. Let’s take a tour of each side that has ports to see what you get:
On the left side of the Eee PC you get a VGA monitor out port, USB 2.0 port and HDMI port
On the right side you get a media card reader, microphone/headphone jack, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet RJ-45 port
The is now USB 3.0 port unfortunately, but you do get the all important HDMI port so you can output to a larger monitor or TV.
Let’s be frank, if you can spend $50 more and get an 11” portable laptop such as the HP dm1z then you really should. The 10.1” Asus Eee PC just has too many compromises for the price, the hard to use keyboard, poor screen and lackluster performance don’t make up for the budget level $299 price. We’ve even seen fully fledged laptops with Intel Core i3 processors go for this price, albeit during Black Friday and once in a blue moon sales. Still, for $100 more you can easily find a more capable laptop. However, if the 12 hour battery life and small form factor just tickle you pink, then by all means dive in and hit the buy button. Just know that you’ll be making some serious compromises.
- Great battery life of up to 12 hours
- It works for getting simple tasks done, friendly price of $299
- Can do 1080p video output to TV
- Intel Atom processor is still slow, beware of multitasking with low 1GB of memory
- Keyboard is hard to use due to shrunken keys
- Poor screen quality and resolution