Saturday, May 31, 2008

Micro Fondle: Lenovo U110, Dialogue Flybook, Asus e900

I was in the area again this morning, so I stopped into J&R.

They finally had in the lust-o-licious Lenovo U110 Ideapad.

Except, in reality, it is not lust-o-licious.

The red metal lid is very nice. The pattern etched into it is very subtle and can only be seen if held up to the light at an angle. I didn’t even feel the texture until I rubbed my finger over it to make sure it was there.

It’s thin and light. Nice build.

The screen is good. I can’t say much more than that because it was running Vista. Vista has the crappiest, fugliest, sickeningest colors I’ve ever seen. It look like a drunk’s vomit. Once again Microsoft lives up to Steve Jobs’s assessment: “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste[.]”

The heartbreak is that shiny black plastic Lenovo used. It’s terrible. It’s slick. And do you know what it looks like after a few hundred people have fondled it? Like a freakin biohazard! It picks up this sliminess from all the fingers that have molested it. I’m not kidding! Between your finger and the plastic is this layer of finger slime. Disgusting! That probably won’t matter much to an individual user except you’ll be frikkin giving this thing a wipe at the end of the day! Maybe several times a day.

The keyboard is crap. The keys are all square, extremely flat like Scrabble pieces, and slick. Tactile feedback didn’t matter to me because their alignment didn’t match up with my fingers at all. It was horrible trying to type on it.

Sometimes you have to see a thing in person. Seeing the U110 in person has scratched it off my list completely.

J&R got in the Dialogue Flybook! This is an expensive critter ($2,500!!) a bit larger than an Asus EeePC with a keyboard that actually seems smaller. Like the Everex Cloudbook, it has no trackpad below the keyboard. Instead it has a pointing nub at the top right with two circular mouse buttons to the left of it.

The keyboard is crap to type on. Worse than the crampedness of the EeePC. It also has harder feedback. But the killer is having to move your hand all the way up to that right hand corner. I can see why people disliked that arrangement on the Cloudbook.

The screen can be twirled and placed flat over the keyboard, turning it into a tablet. Big deal.

Like the Lenovo, it was running Vista. Again, the drunk’s vomit colors.

Then I went back to the Asus EeePC e900 running Windows XP. Yeah, it’s out of stock. They’ve removed the price information to reflect that. I’m surprised they haven’t sold the demo model (which is still in pristine shape!).

This time I looked to see what was actually installed on it.

Man, what the hell did Asus agree to in order to get a discount for XP? Microsoft made them install all this Microsoft Live crapware on it. It also has the Microsoft Works suite plus another suite of stuff from, I think, Sun? Out of the 12 GBs of storage, only about 4GB are left free!

I was glad to see MS Paint was on it, because I use that to save screensnaps (hmmm… I neglected to look for a PrtScreen key — EeePC owners, is there one?).

The e900 still holds my heart. That screen is gorgeous. Everything about it is gorgeous. I looked carefully at the keyboard this time. I also looked at the black and white keyboards of the original EeePC. If I’m not mistaken, the black keys are square, whereas the white keys are nearly rectangular on both the original EeePC and the white e900 (which is the demo model J&R had). Someone with both units and calipers can probably prove that (hello, Joanna Stern!).

I can say right now that if I don’t like the MSI Wind, I’ll be getting that e900.

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