(Re-) Introducing ASUS EeePC 1215N

It’s been a while since I last reviewed a netbook. Even though the netbook market is pretty huge right now, there’s a couple of pretty good reasons for this. First, the iPad factor—tablets have the buzz, and devices like the Galaxy Tab, RIM PlayBook, and anything and everything else with a touchscreen are far more interesting than the bog standard netbook. Two, they all have basically the same hardware in slightly different cases. If you’re ASUS, that means you’ve got roughly 20 different models with the same basic internals and otherwise minor changes to differentiate them all.

But this one, the 1215N, is actually different. You’ve got a dual-core Atom (a desktop Atom D525, not the new N550), a 12” screen, and NVIDIA’s Next Generation ION (NG-ION) platform, all in a tasty aluminum wrapper. Like the 1201N it’s replacing, it’s a unique riff on the netbook theme. Thankfully, most of the inane netbook limitations are gone, so the 1215 has a solid 2GB memory and Windows 7 Home Premium (as opposed to the awfulness that calls itself Win 7 Starter). All the other standard stuff is here too—Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. It’s a full featured netbook, except on steroids.

ASUS EeePC 1215N Specifications
Processor Intel Atom D525
(1.80GHz, 45nm, 1MB L2 cache, 13W)
Chipset Intel NM10
Memory 2x1GB DDR3-1066
Graphics NVIDIA Next-Generation ION
(16SPs, 475/790/1092 Core/Shader/RAM clocks)
Intel HD Graphics (Optimus Switchable)
Display 12.1" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 250GB 5400RPM HDD (Seagate ST9250325AS)
Optical Drive None
Networking Atheros AR8152 Fast Ethernet
Atheros AR9285 BGN
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell, 10.95V, 5200mAh, 56Wh battery
Front Side None
Left Side Flash reader (MMC/MS/MS Pro/SD/xD)
1 x USB
HDMI
VGA
Cooling Exhaust
AC Power connection
Right Side Headphone/Microphone jacks
Kensington Lock
2 x USB 2.0
Ethernet
Back Side None
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions 11.65" x 8.0" x 0.91-1.46" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.21 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
86-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-touch touchpad
ExpressGate OS (8-second boot)
Warranty 1-year global warranty
6-month battery pack warranty
30-day zero bright dot LCD
Pricing ASUS EeePC 1215N Silver starting at $484

Compared to the outgoing 1201N, not much has changed here. It's the same basic hardware configuration in a similar chassis; the biggest difference is the bump from the first gen ION platform to Pine Trail and NG-ION, with a slightly higher CPU clock. It’s still pretty great as far as netbook specs go, but it costs significantly more than most netbooks. Our favorite 1001P goes for $299, while the 1215N goes for $499. Can the performance upgrades justify the large amount of additional cost, and how does it hold up versus similarly priced notebooks running AMD’s Nile platform? There are some other interesting questions; NG-ION is not significantly faster than the first-gen ION platform, so will the 1215N be better than the 1201N? And then you’ve got the N550 in play now as well; now that there are plenty of dual-core 10” netbooks out there, is the 1215N as different as it seems at first look? Let’s find out.

Checking Out the ASUS Eee PC 1215N
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  • MeSh1 - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    " Intel has essentially left the Atom core the same since the launch in mid-2008" This is what happens when there is no competition. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    True, there aren't other netbooks without atom, but there are other CPUs to compete. Unfortunately they all suck. All of the "competitors" use more power, save for ARM processors. Not sure if they'll ever use ARM processors in netbooks though. Tablets and smartphones seem to promising for them. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    No x86 license means no ARM netbooks. Qualcomm was trying to get the whole "smartbook" deal off the ground, basically just thinner netbooks running Snapdragon and either Linux, Chrome OS, or Android. They all sucked big time, then the entire segment got basically axed for tablets. Toshiba released this Tegra 2/Android smartbook, but it hit the market and basically disappeared, so that says enough about the segment.

    We'll see, I'm interested to see if AMD's impending release of Ontario can change anything, but the Ontario cores are clocked at a pitiful 1.0GHz (for the dual core, 1.2GHz for the single) so it might not beat Atom by too much. For single core apps, I'm thinking maybe a 20% boost in performance - whether this will be faster than Atom by enough to be usable is the question. But seriously, I would like for something (anything) to kick the Atom team into action. They basically created the netbook market with the release of Atom, but after that they've done nothing other than moving the graphics onto the CPU package. Every time I get a netbook, it's like "oh boy, Atom....again....greaaaaat" I want some interesting netbooks lol.
    Reply
  • Eug - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Non-Atom netbooks already exist in 2010. The Acer listed in the review is arguably in this netbook/hybrid class, at 11.6" inches with a street price LESS than the Asus Atom/ION machine, but sporting a CPU that runs circles around Atom and which also has an integrated GPU (Intel 4500MHD) with full 1080p H.264 decode capability like NVIDIA ION provides.

    Hopefully 2011 will see more of these decently powered netbooks, whether it'd be with CULV Core 2 Duo class chips, or from Zacate, beginning in the sub US$400 price segment.

    Actually, just as important as the CPU is the keyboard. Using 10" keyboards is utterly painful. Just one and a half inches more and you get a full-sized keyboard. It makes all the difference in the world, not for productivity apps, but for basic netbook-style internet consumption as well. It's much more pleasant typing an AnandTech comment on a full-sized keyboard. For this reason, any 10" model IMO isn't even in the running compared to the Asus 1215N, regardless of performance.
    Reply
  • Terodius - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    you do realize Sony has a 13.3 inch vaio with core i7, nvidia discrete graphics and a full HD screen? I mean seriously... netbook on steroids? I consider 12 inches more of a ultraportable. with another extra inch you get the experience of a desktop replacement. Reply
  • monomer - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Did you seriously just compare a $500 netbook to an $1800 laptop?

    Well played.
    Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    THIS LAPTOP BE DISSAPOINT
    ATOM SUX GTFO
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    What? Reply
  • erwos - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    I ordered a 1215N, but promptly returned it unopened after finding out online about the number of people who are breaking the flimsy power pin in the course of normal use. This is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed in the review. Reply
  • Scott_G - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Why wouldn't you just give it a try on your own, you can't always believe what people say on the Internet about defects. If you did believe everything then you wouldn't own anything tech related. Reply

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