Asus Eee Top ET2010AGT £619
10th Dec 2010 | 15:38
A low end all-in-one PC with rudimentary touch capabilities
Asus Eee Top ET2010AGT review: Overview
Touchscreens are the computing flavour of the moment. It's hard to argue otherwise given the success of the iPad and the tablet market that's quickly rising beside it.
We don't necessarily think the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Dell Streak are going to change the world, but they are out there, on the shelves. And so, now, is the Eee Top ET2010AGT all-in-one touchscreen PC.
It makes sense that everyone would want a slice of the pie, from mobile manufacturers to proper PC makers such as Asus. Soon enough, your 40-inch TV and your washing machine will have multi-touch functionality. It's the game to be playing.
Thing is, there are two kinds of touchscreen computer; those that work, and those that don't. You don't want to have to get up and wipe your fists all over your washing machine just to select the spin cycle. And Asus' latest Eee Top, while it's not a washing machine and it is a decent PC in it's own right, doesn't spell the end of the mouse just yet.
We'll get to the precise reasons why in a little while, though for now let's say the execution is shaky, the form factor doesn't suit touch like the tablet does, and we're not entirely sure why the touch screen is there other than to tick a box. Oh, and it runs Windows 7. Ever tried to use Windows 7 with a touchscreen interface? Yeah. It's not up to much.
Asus Eee Top ET2010AGT review: Specifications
Let's start with the ET2010AGT's panel. This isn't a capacitive touchscreen, or even a resistive one. It's optical sensor-based, using a pair located in the top corners of the slightly recessed screen to determine the position of your fingers.
It's pretty effective; the sensors can locate and track two fingers for limited multi-touch support, and while it's possible to get it confused (try placing three fingers on the screen, or hovering your finger just above the monitor to register phantom clicks) you'll be able to take advantage of Windows 7's full (ie. limited) range of finger functions.
The sensor system makes the Eee Top good for the kitchen in that you don't have to use sticky fingers; just grab any vaguely cylyndrical object and use it as a stylus. Heck, use a carrot. Go mad.
The underlying guts of the ET2010AGT are based around an AMD architecture, and are pretty average for the price. You get a full 2GB RAM, which covers you for everything you're likely to tease out of the 1.6GHz AMD Athlon X2 processor.
The full 64-bit version of Windows 7 deals with the operating system side of things, even though the low voltage processor would normally be associated with XP. Thankfully it keeps up with a modern OS just fine. There's a mid-range laptop graphics chipset (an ATI Mobility Radeon HD5470) to deal with games; don't expect miracles, just decent mid-range performance. This isn't a gaming machine, after all.
If this machine had also sported a TV tuner and HDMI in – and the case has holes where such ports could plausibly go, and other models in the range sport the features – it would have been a complete package.
Asus Eee Top ET2010AGT review: Performance
It's easy to criticise the standard all-in-one PC design because you can't easily upgrade it or replace any components which might break. Even though that places this machine in the same category as laptop PCs and desktop devices such as the Apple iMac, the ET2010AGT is not as convenient as the former or as good as the latter.
You can't carry it easily, and it's unlikely to have the same longevity of a modern OS X machine.
So it's awkward. The addition of a touchscreen, sadly, seems like little more than a transparent gimmick, since poking around at a vertical computer monitor just isn't comfortable in standard use. For the occasional prod in a standing environment like a kitchen? Fine. We can see it working. For your desk? You'll use the mouse every time.
There's a pretty major problem, too, or at least there was with our review model: you can do what you want with the touchscreen, as long as you don't want to touch the top centimeter of real estate. It doesn't work.
Touches to that area don't register correctly, possibly due to the way the sensors are positioned within the case. This is is particularly frustrating because Asus chose exactly that area to host its drop-down quick launch menu and, more importantly, that's the zone that covers the top of a maximised window. Want to close or minimise something with your finger? Tough.
The processor and chipset are just strong enough that using the ET2010AGT isn't a sluggish or sketchy experience, but there's not a lot of wiggle room. Expect to run older games such as Team Fortress 2 at medium settings without too much trouble; a netbook this ain't.
The construction of the ET2010AGT isn't quite as sturdy as its decent processing power.
The tinny speakers are really quite awful, the 1600 x 900 screen pretty low res and prone to fingerprint smears, and the included keyboard and mouse combo – small and cheap, to be frank – is just about adequate. We were impressed that the narrow keyboard fits easily into the gap at the bottom of the unit, if that counts for anything.
Eee Top ET2010AGT review: Conclusion
The Eee Top ET2010AGT is machine that, at an average selling price of £500, is too expensive – even next to pricier competition. You'd look at the iMac, you'd look at one of the rather excellent HP all-in-one Touchsmart range, you'd look at a much more versatile laptop before you'd look at this.
Yes, it's a lot cheaper than Dell's touch screen Inspiron One 23. But it's a lot less powerful, too.
This could be the perfect PC for certain situations. It's reasonably strong under the hood, it's not too noisy, and it's pretty versatile despite its restrictive form. At £500, we'd actually say it's a good choice for the bedroom, given that it's a space saving design with just enough nuts to get standard computing jobs done.
Even if you're desperate for a touchscreen, there are better examples – the shaky implementation puts the ET2010AGT at the bottom of the pile. Even ignoring the touchscreen, its panel is probably too small, the speakers too tinny, and the processor too incapable of playing back 1080p HD to consider this as a proper media machine.
A decent stab at an all-in one, but the design is so restrictive and the price so high that you're better off investing your money elsewhere.
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