Can ASUS Eee Note EA800 reinvent the digital notepad?

November 29th, 2010 in .Handhelds & Smartphones .Products
Nick Holland
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Can ASUS Eee Note EA800 reinvent the digital notepad?

After a few months of waiting and a quick name change, the ASUS Eee Note EA800 finally has a launch date. Previously penned in as the ‘Eee Tablet’, the more appropriate title of “Note” reflects the fact the Eee Note EA800 has always been more notebook than tablet device, as this year has come to define them.

The eight inch Eee Note fits the current market gap between basic eReader and fully fledged tablet, and has a very customised ASUS UI and hardware set to back it up.

ASUS Eee Note EA800

ASUS Eee Note EA800 is nice and thin

Oooh-touch me! I’m ultra sensitive

For starters it uses an ultra-sensitive 2,540 dpi touchscreen (0.01mm dot pitch). That’s currently unparalleled in the tablet space, and it needs this level of sensitivity in order to function as a notepad and effectively record the tiniest details in handwritten notes. While handwriting can be slower than typing long reams of text, it gives much greater freedom than a laptop to use personal shorthand and entire document freedom, as well as opens up the possibility to easily add mathematical or scientific formula. This makes business meetings or lecture note taking much easier.

ASUS docs state the touchscreen also has 256 levels of sensitivity so it knows how hard you’re pressing, which can mean the difference between a dot, a dash and a stroke, and even though the EA800 only has a monochrome display it features 64 grey levels between black and white for at least some measurable level of contrast. The best example is probably to try reading manga and comics on it, we’d imagine.

ASUS Eee Note EA800

ASUS Eee Note EA800 can connect to a PC via USB to charge and transfer data

eReader <-> ASUS Eee Note <-> Tablets

Another way the Eee Note sits on the line between eReader and tablet is its display: non-backlit, high-contrast TFT. This means it’s more natural to read like paper and eReaders, as it doesn’t use a backlight, however unlike an eReader that uses slower e-ink, the TFT makes page updates and changes as fast as a normal PC monitor or laptop display. The downside is that the TFT does use more power, but ASUS states the Eee Note still lasts over 13 hours powered up, which is longer than most laptops or tablets currently on the market, and it’ll stay sitting asleep in your bag for about 10 days before needing a charge.

The display size is also 1024×768, which might not seem like much but it’s larger than the similarly sized Samsung Galaxy Tab (at 1024×600) and even bigger, 10.1″ netbooks (also 1024×600).

Other hardware features of Note are the WiFi, camera and microphone. The WiFi gives it the freedom to connect to ASUS’ Cloud services for extra Apps (like Evernote for document sync), storage and updates, while the camera means you can take photos using the Eee Note and annotate them with the touchscreen, or even voice notes. We’ve all been taking photos on our mobile phones for years, but there’s yet a way to add notes, reminders and learning aids to those pictures this directly. Getting the notes right there in the picture is much easier than writing (or even remembering to write) ‘see picture15a.jpg’ or ‘in the top left of image13 there is..blahblahblah’.

4GB of internal SSD memory isn’t that much, but there’s still a microSD expansion slot to dive into and at least it’s solid state so will withstand the bumps of travels. Also, realistically pictures and documents don’t really take up a huge amount of space either. The Eee Note also plays MP3 files too, so yea, you’ll be using the microSD slot then; but realistically people use their phones or MP3 players for their music collections. The Eee Note MP3 support is only aimed at audio notes and audiobooks, which can be recorded mono and compressed to take far less space.

Other document formats covered include the popular .txt, .doc, .docx, .pdf and ePub, while to support business users it’ll also read .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx. as well. It’s again worth remembering these formats are in the scope of the device; if you want an all-singing-all-format loving model, wait for the Windows 7 or Android Eee ‘tablets’ yet to come!

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