This Net book is very much similar to Asus Lamborghini VX6 in the internals of the netbook if we see, but externals are really not as tempting as if that one. you will only You get a dual core Atom D525 running at 1.8GHz, which is plenty for rudimentary tasks like surfing the net or working on office documents.
For that extra punch you have Nvidia’s next generation ION technology embedded, which can easily playback 1080p videos that you can output to an HDTV via the HDMI out port. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all this goodness minus the fancy branding?
Well, Asus seems to have foreseen such a demand, and come next month, we’ll be able to get our hands on it. Asus will not be selling the 1215N in retail stores, as it will only be available on back to back order. So you’ll have to make an inquiry with Asus and they will arrange one for you.
We managed to snag a review sample from Asus and today we’ll find out what this netbook is capable of.
The specifications are very similar to the VX6, almost identical actually, but it is configurable. Our review sample came with 2GB of RAM (upgradable up to 4GB), Atom D525, 250GB hard drive (optional 320GB). The 1215N has a slightly different styling, but looks stylish nonetheless. The entire body has a matte finish, which reduces finger prints and is a lot easier to maintain. The 12.1″ netbook is light enough to be carried around with ease and is really slim like the rest of the Seashell series.
The maroon shade is pleasing to the eye and breaks the monotony of silver and black.
There is a compartment in the bottom for swapping the RAM.
The left features a USB port, HDMI, card reader and VGA. The vent is also placed here since the rear is taken up by the battery.
The right side bears the headphone and microphone jack, two USB ports, LAN jack and Kensington lock. This review unit did not have USB 3.0 ports, but it is mentioned on the Asus site as an optional feature, so when placing your order don’t forget to check if it’s there.
The front of the netbook only has status lights.
The chiclet keyboard makes its return in the 1215N. The keys are spaced out very well, so typing should not be a problem. There are two shortcut buttons on the top, one for toggling the Asus Super Hybrid Engine power modes and the other for WiFi. The unit that we have also supports WiMax, but we doubt this will make it to the Indian retail model. The palm rest is nice and wide making it comfortable for people with large hands.
Overall, we liked the design and construction of the Asus 1215N. The screen supports HD, which makes it good for watching movies. It is also large enough for comfortably surfing the internet.
Note: The display drivers on this unit just refused to scale to the native resolution. We tried a bunch of drivers from Asus, Nvidia and Intel but still couldn’t get the native resolution to show in the graphics properties. Apart from this there wasn’t any big concern and we were able to complete out tests.
Real World usage
Thanks to the 2GB RAM and the 1.8GHz Atom D525, Windows 7 is pretty spiffy to use. Applications respond a bit quicker as compared a lower spec’d netbook. For HD video playback we installed the K-lite video codec pack beforehand to ensure that the decoding work gets offloaded to the NVIDIA graphics chip. As expected, almost all the 1080p HD videos we threw at it were played back effortlessly. With respect to gaming, the Street Fighter IV benchmark played back a little laggy 23 FPS with maxed out settings. So forget playing today’s heavy-duty PC gaming on this thing. But it wouldn’t be so bad to run a NFS Most Wanted or any other game from that era.
The trackpad is smooth and very easy to use unlike the one on the VX6. However, the two mouse buttons are incredibly hard to press and they only give in towards the edges. We hope Asus corrects this in the retail samples that come to India; otherwise those buttons are as good as useless. We also noticed the 1215N expelling a lot of warm air even when just surfing the net, which could mean either the D525 or the ION chipset runs a bit on the hotter side, which in turn requires the fan to spin for most of the time, which could affect the battery life.
The 1215N came with a 6-cell 47Whr battery pack. We let it run a 720p video in loop with full brightness and sound. Here, we made sure that WMP used the Intel onboard and not the ION chipset. By doing this we got a decent battery life of 2hrs and 30min, which is not the best, but not too bad either for a dual core Atom. But in doing non graphics-intensive tasks, like typing a word document in an online office suite and general surfing over Wi-fi, it delivered better figures. Here it was able to deliver just about 4hrs. Its stylish cousin, the VX6, managed a little more but that was only because it had a higher capacity battery.
Pricing and Verdict
The 1215N should be configurable when it becomes available towards the end of November. Asus stated an MRP of Rs.26,999 for the following configuration of the 1215N.
|OS: Windows 7 Home Premium|
|CPU : 1.8GHz Intel Atom D525|
|Chipset : Next Generation ION MCP79|
|Memory : 2GB 800MHz DDR2|
|Screen: 12.1″ HD LED backlit LCD (1366×768)|
|HDD : 250GB 5,400rpm|
|WLAN : 802.11 b/g/n with Bluetooth 3.0|
|USB : 2.0|
|Graphics : Intel GMA 3150 / Nvidia Ion|
|Dimensions (WD) : 11.7 x 8.0 inches
Height : 0.9-1.4 inches
|Screen size (diagonal) : 12.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapte : 3.3/3.9 pounds|
This is a much better pricing compared to the VX6, as you’re basically getting the same internals for a lower price. You’re still losing out on USB 3.0 in this configuration, but hopefully it can be configured.
We really liked the 1215N for its good multimedia performance and decent battery life. It looks great and has a good screen for working or watching movies. My only gripe right now is the mouse buttons that are terrible and unusable (hopefully it’s just our unit). Also, we would have liked to see USB 3.0 included at this price.
Includes Intel’s dual-core Atom CPU, plus Nvidia Ion graphics and Optimus graphic-switching technology; good game and video playback performance.
Other low-cost ultraportables with AMD’s dual-core Neo are faster; flimsy keyboard; stiff mouse buttons.
The bottom line:
The Asus Eee PC 1215N combines Intel’s dual-core Atom CPU with Nvidia Ion graphics and Optimus GPU-switching for an impressive overall package, but one that still feels a bit too much like a Netbook.