ASUS X205TA-DH01 Highlights
Pros: Sleek/modern design and lightweight. Impressive battery life. Affordable. Responsive keyboard and trackpad.
Cons: Only 2GB of memory. Lacks latest technology like the USB 3.0 and 802.11ac wireless standard. MicroSD card slot instead of standard SD card.
Netbooks became very popular when they were first introduced back in 2007. They had certain distinct characteristics like smaller screens, keyboards and sub-par performance when compared to mainstream laptops. In addition, they were built for portability and affordability. Netbooks were very compact, lightweight and used to cost less than couple of hundred dollars. By 2011, the rise of tablets and smartphones led to a significant decline in netbook sales as tablets offered better computing capabilities, portability and lower production costs. An article in the Guardian even stated that many major netbook manufacturers like Acer and ASUS had stopped manufacturing them by the end of 2012. The final nail in the coffin was the arrival of chromebooks, which is a variation of a netbook but is meant to be Cloud based, i.e. an 'always connected' computer, running Google's Chrome operating system. However, Microsoft recently began a new effort to revive netbooks, running their latest Windows 8.1 operating system to boost revenues. We saw this with HP re-entering the netbook market with their Stream line of computers like the HP Stream 14-z010nr, which we have recently reviewed. ASUS has now subsequently restarted their Eee PC line of netbook computers after ending production in early 2013. In this review, we'll look at the ASUS X205TA-DH01 EeeBook to see whether this is something consumers will be interested in.
According to ASUS, the name Eee stands for: 'Easy to learn, Easy to work and Easy to play'. The ASUS X205TA-DH01 is designed to be in direct competition with chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS. The X205TA is one of the most modern looking and beautifully designed netbooks available in the market. It is very compact, portable and lightweight too weighing only 2.2 pounds and 0.70 inches thick. The entire body is made of high quality plastic that feels very solid. To suit users' personality and taste, the netbook is available in four different colors: dark blue, white, gold and red. As for the specifications, the fanless ASUS X205TA is powered by an Intel Atom processor with 2GB memory and 32GB Solid State Drive (SSD), complemented with a 11.6 inch high definition 720p screen. In contrast, similar HP netbooks like the Stream 11 uses an Intel Celeron processor which offers a little bit better performance over the Intel Atom processor. But because Atom processors are power efficient they have a better and longer battery life which in this case is about 12 hours.
Performance - The Intel Bay Trail-T quad-core Z3735 1.33 GHz (Burst frequency: 1.83 GHz) processor is specifically made for low-cost tablets, notebooks, and other low-power devices. This fairly new Atom chip features Intel Ivy Bridge level graphics, four physical cores and performance that is suitable for many basic routine computing tasks. It is also a low-power chip which is great for battery life. We found the raw performance of the X205TA to be about 30 percent less when compared to the HP Stream 11 which features an Intel Celeron N2840 processor. As far as real world usage is concerned (like basic web browsing, checking emails, creating/editing documents and watching Youtube videos), it still feels pretty good on this device and it doesn't feel all that slow. This is mostly due to the four physical cores present in the Z3735 processor. With multiple cores, the system can handle more than one thread with each core in turn handling a separate stream of data. This significantly increases the performance of a system that is running multiple applications simultaneously. The processor also does a reasonable job playing HD movies with some occasional lag. Overall, we are pleased with the performance as far as basic computing tasks are concerned.
Storage & Memory - We were disappointed to see the X205TA-DH01 come with only 2GB of memory instead of the typical 4GB memory. The memory size affects how many applications can be opened at once before everything slows down. For light multitasking, the memory may be sufficient initially but we would have liked to see this netbook come with at least 4GB of memory for smoother multitasking capability. In addition, the 32GB Solid State Drive (SSD) is also on the lower side for a Windows PC. If it were a chromebook, then it wouldn't have been a big deal as most of the documents and files are meant to be stored in the Cloud. However, with Windows 8.1 operating system installed on the X205TA, only approx. 17GB of usable space is available out of the total 32GB after everything is installed. Nevertheless, the system will definitely benefit from the faster boot speed and faster data transfer speed that the SSD has to offer. Also, the system comes with very minimum trial and pre-installed software (bloatware) - which is a good thing with 32GB storage.
Display, Graphics & Sound - The ASUS X205TA-DH01 features an 11.6 inch high definition (1366x768 pixels) display with glossy finish. As with most TN panels, the colors look a bit washed out when viewing from the side due to limited viewing angles. But this is what you would expect from most budget priced laptops. Overall, the color reproduction is quite good with sharp readable texts. As for gaming, the integrated Intel HD Graphics is only suitable for playing older and less demanding games. Games like Minecraft are certainly playable but at times you'll notice sluggish performance. This netbook is definitely not meant for playing modern or the latest games but simple web based/older games titles will run just fine. In addition, the two front-facing speakers by SonicMaster situated underneath the laptop under the palm rest are loud enough to fill the room.
Battery - ASUS claims the 38 Whrs lithium-ion polymer battery lasts for up to 12 hours but for typical usage like a couple of hours of web browsing, watching few Youtube videos, working on documents and streaming music, the laptop should easily last for up to 10 hours without recharge. This is much better than what we saw in some chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook 2 XE500C12-K01US or Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2. The battery is also quick to recharge taking no more than just a couple of hours to fully recharge. Even the charging adapter is designed to be compact and portable measuring only 53x53 mm and is small enough to be put in your pocket.
Operating System - Windows 8.1.
Click here for a closer look and buyer reviews.
On the left side of the netbook, the ASUS EeeBook X205TA features a micro HDMI port, a microSD card slot for added storage capability and a headphone/microphone combo jack. On the right, you will find 2 USB 2.0 ports. We would have liked to see a USB 3.0 port instead of the slower USB 2.0 port. In addition, there is a front facing VGA camera on the top. In terms of connectivity options, the X205TA includes a 802.11a/b/g/n dual band wireless and a Bluetooth 4.0. The lack of the latest 802.11ac wireless is a bit of a disappointment as well. Please note the netbook doesn't have an Ethernet port, however there is a pluggable USB to Ethernet adapter available, if you're really keen on having one. The keyboard meanwhile, is pretty good too. The keys are close to full size as you would find in mainstream laptops. It is comfortable to type and well spaced, light and responsive. The keyboard is suitable for prolonged use too. The touchpad is responsive as well, and we are satisfied with it's accuracy. Another interesting feature of the X205TA is the Connected Standby mode that allows for very quick resume. It basically works like a smartphone where it switches the display off but remains in a low-power state listening for notifications and updating installed apps (Windows Store apps only) regularly in the background. The X205TA measures 7.60 x 11.30 x 0.70 inches inches and weighs 2.2 pounds.
We think the comeback of cheap netbooks is a good thing. Microsoft is really trying hard to penetrate the budget laptop market with it's latest Windows 8.1 operating system, and it faces stiff competition from the likes of Apple and Google with their iPad and chromebook offerings. Competition is always good when the winners are the end consumers i.e you. To stay ahead of the competition, tech companies are constantly trying to come out with creative and affordable product ideas just like the ASUS X205TA-DH01. It is sleek, lightweight, beautifully designed and redefines portability with it's almost half-day worth of battery life. While the netbook didn't exactly feel super responsive, it didn't feel all that slow either - thanks to the four cores present in it's Intel Atom processor. If you start doing things that are processor intensive like graphic intensive games or advanced tasks such as photo or video editing, you're certainly going to notice the difference. But for everyday use like web browsing, word processing and multimedia playback, the processor is responsive enough. If you're looking for a portable, light weight laptop with a better screen and long battery life, we would recommend the X205TA as at this price point you really can't ask for more. However, if you're looking for something slightly better, then you should look at HP Stream 11.