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Posted on March 3rd, 2010 by David Fearon

Asus Eee Keyboard review: first look at CeBIT

_MG_2535The much-anticipated Eee Keyboard – a PC, as you may have guessed, in a keyboard – will finally be shipping next month, according to Asus chairman Jonney Shih. He was contrite about the delays in a press conference here in Hannover: “We have to apologise a little bit… we’ll try to perfect it. We promise it won’t be further delayed – we think April time frame we’ll have mass production”

Despite not being fully finished, two demonstration units are running on Asus’ stand. We spent a while playing, in the company of a slightly nervous-looking Asus rep.

The guts of the machine come as no surprise, and include 11n wireless and the now-standard netbook-style spec list of an Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM and a 16 or 32GB SSD. At the back there are three USB2 ports, HDMI and VGA video outputs plus Ethernet and audio.

The most interesting part is the touchscreen built into the right-hand side of the unit. It has all sorts of clever little apps.

_MG_2527At first glance the screen display looks like a similar interface to standalone-app gadgets like the Chumby. The difference here is that the screen isn’t a separate bolt-on device running a linux derivative – it’s actually a secondary Windows monitor. That means the interface is pretty responsive and a lot more sophisticated than you’d expect. You can even bring up the Windows XP desktop on it if you want, albeit at a very odd portrait aspect ratio._MG_2530

When you’re not using it to navigate menus, the touchscreen becomes a nice big touchpad to control the mouse on the main display.

There’s a proprietary wireless video transmitter to go with the Eee Keyboard, and although it’s technically an option Asus expects most units to be sold with one. There’s enough bandwidth to show HD video at 720P, and it was working flawlessly on the display stand with the receiver unit a few feet away. Unfortunately Asus was a bit skittish about us wandering off with one of the only two working samples in the universe, so we weren’t allowed to move the Eee Keyboard away from the receiver to see what the range was like.

_MG_2532So, assuming you want a PC in a keyboard – personally I don’t but I can see there might be some who do – the issue with the Eee Keyboard is the price. Asus tells us that it will launch at 550 euros including the video transceiver, which given the exchange rate will probably translate into something around £550.

It’s an awful lot to pay for a low-powered computer running Windows XP, and we’re yet to be convinced that the software running the secondary screen is solid enough not to act up at inconvenient moments.

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6 Responses to “ Asus Eee Keyboard review: first look at CeBIT ”

  1. Mike Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    They say technology is iterative. I seem to remember Schneider GMbH lauching their ‘PC in a keyboard’ at the end of the 80s or early 90s. The company I worked for at the time used it as a space-saving computer in the warehouse. The spec, as I hazily recall, had a 3.5″ floppy, 8086 CPU and ahem, definitely no monitor! While ‘they’ might be right, clearly, concepts are certainly cyclic.

     
  2. mistersaxon Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    It’s quite big if the chair behind it in the first picture is anything to go by. Yes the little black chair. :)

     
  3. Simon Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Are the receivers/keyboards locked together or can you have multiple receiver/keyboard combo’s?

    Would like one but would need to have an open drivers etc. for the components as would wipe the xp and install a form of linux.

    Also that does look like a very uncomfortable chair!

     
  4. Wayfinder Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Will it sell? Maybe to tech-geeks as a show-off item. Not to a mass market that’s already used to far more useful netbooks at half the price. What is this company thinking? Wasting time and investment on something like this instead of far more viable potential products? I’m sorry, this one has “yesterday’s fail” written all over it.

     
  5. Steve Cassidy Says:
    March 5th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Looks like exactly what I have been hunting for to drop into meeting rooms as a softphone platform for conference calls and Powerpoint shows. My architect buddies will most likely love it to bits too…

     
  6. Bryan Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Found your article while I was searching for Asus Eee Keyboard review. It definitely looks cool but I don’t think it’s worth it with the price tag(even if its cheaper now), might as well just get an ipad. Wouldn’t have a clue why anyone would want to waste money on this, except maybe as a show off gadget collection.

     

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