(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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  • kmmatney - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    I have to say that I'm almost as productive with the track pad as I am with a mouse. I just have to turn off the double-click feature - that drives me nuts. Overall, trackpads are a very good built-in solution - I just wish mine was larger, like the track pads on Apple's laptops. Reply
  • slagar - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    On a netbook? Ew, no. Trackpads are fine for light computing use, carrying around a mouse (and having a decent surface to use it on) is not. Reply
  • stancilmor - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    well perhaps just provide a way to disable the track pad, I have clumsy hands that are always hitting the track pad and messing up my typing...usually have to tape over the track pad and use a mouse. Reply
  • Evil_Sheep - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Virtually all trackpads can be disabled in software (typically Synaptics drivers) ...most laptops even have a Fn keyboard shortcut to do that. Try looking for that or use control panel and go to mouse settings. Reply
  • Nataku - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    actually, I think if they embed the mouse into the laptop like how some mouse embed the receiver into the mouse as an option from the trackpad, i might actually jump on it ;-) Reply
  • b.kenobi - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    maybe not such a bad idea to remove the trackpad... how about using a smartphone as your trackpad... Reply
  • Xipto - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    "all in a tasty aluminum wrapper"

    Funny thing, I've just hold one and there's no trace of aluminium in the chassis. Like most Asus laptops now available, it's plastic painted as brushed aluminium. Only a few feature some aluminium screen cover or palm rests but I didn't found one where it was applied all around.
    Reply
  • slagar - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    "The webcam has the same gimmicky manual shutter over it that the U33Jc has. In my opinion, that’s just one more part to break, but if someone sees value in it, so be it."

    Why do they feel the need to include this? So people can stop spying on themselves?
    Perhaps it's to evade potential lawsuits: 'oops I left a video-conference open while I got undressed - I better sue my laptop manufacturer for not including a safety shutter!!'. Honestly, it baffles me.
    Reply
  • Evil_Sheep - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    We live in an era where school administrators use laptop webcams to secretly spy on their own students (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61L5R5201002... governments will go to any length to spy on their own citizens, including photographing them naked, and hackers control networks of millions of zombie computers because the incredible complexity of modern technology is far beyond the comprehension of the average citizen.

    A simple webcam shutter is not only a sensible countermeasure, it should be mandatory on all computers.
    Reply
  • Evil_Sheep - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    The lesson of the 1215N is that while there's lots of choice in this market (10-12" budget ultraportables), nobody offers a product without at least one significant drawback. Though the 1215 is a flawed product, there is no clearly superior alternative.

    The conclusion mentions a few possibilities but look at them: if you go with a 10" netbook, you have to live with their cramped 600p screens and keyboards and crippled Win7 Starter. If you go with EOL CULV, typically an Acer Timeline 1400 or 1800, you have to live with Acer's awful keyboards, LCD's, and bottom of the barrel plastic. And if you go with AMD, you get poor to awful battery life and still anemic performance. It's a no-win situation.

    Only the Macbook Air 11 comes close to perfection...but at $1000 you're blowing the budget and of course you have to take OSX.
    Reply

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