Marghanita da Cruz
The EeePC 701 released by Asus early in 2008 is a useful addition to the modern traveller's kit. The weight, size and good battery life make it a good companion.
Carrying your own laptop has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side it allows you to compose your and read your correspondence or journal virtually anywhere anytime - at busstops, airports or in hotel rooms. It is also useful for storing and accessing electronic travel and accomodation details.
The small screen and keyboard can take some getting used to, but the weight and quality of the screen out-weigh this brief inconvenience.
The eeePC is also robust. There is no hard drive, but the 4GB of solid state storage is more than I have on my old Laptop. There are reports of it surviving being dropped on tiles. It certainly survived being shoved into a Wheelie bag, which was squashed shut and dragged over cobblestones.
The Monitor also works extremely well in bright light, where other laptops are unreadable and my camera complained that the photograph was overexposed.
The eeePC ships with the Xandros distribution of Linux. It has a built in camera, microphone and Skype software.
Under the Internet Menu it offers access to the "Web" via Firefox (browser). The Network and Wireless Networks Icons allow you to connect to WiFia and cabled Ethernet LANs.
Under Work, the "Mail" software is Thunderbird. There is also access to Open Office Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations. There are also the usual accessories and a PDF reader. There is also something called notes - for brief messages/notes.
There are a few Games, a Media Player, Photo, Music and Video manager under Play. This is where you will find the webcam and sound recorder software which use the built in camera and sound recorder.
It is a good idea to ensure all software is configured and its operation is familiar before leaving home. Particularly cache and mailserver and relay options (for networks other than your home network).
Consider loading and become familiar with ftp and the gimp. If you are travelling with a video camera, video capture & editing cables and software. The eeePC has three USB2.0 slots and a MMC.SD for loading photographs from a digital camera. Alternatively it supports downloads (and uploads) to a camera using a USB cable. Note you do need to set up PhotoManager to do this (refer to "play" section under help) for instructions).
Note the eeePC does not have a CD/DVD burner or reader.
The Australian model's adapter provides both an Australian and US plug. For Malaysia, I needed an Adapter to a British Power Point, for Turkey and Greece a European Power Point.
Using your own laptop also provides additional security and convenience as the desktop can often be set to alternate languages. It can be difficult to know whether passwords are being stored or not, when using public computers.
The downside, at the time of writing (June 2008), is that WiFi access is still erratic. Free Hot Spot access was available in Agios Nicholas and Iraklio on Crete. It was also available at KL, Dubai and Istanbul airports.
A growing number of hotels and hostels are also providing wireless access in a common area or in guest rooms. This is apart from the business centre facilities. Wireless Internet access was included in some room packages at the Sultan Hostel, Istanbul and in certain guest rooms at the Novotel Hydromajestic, KL. It only worked in the common areas at the Sultan Hostel. The wireless access at other places such as the Spot at Rhodos wasn't working and the Hostel in Athens only provided locked (no USB) terminals (but they worked very well). There was no Wireless access at Patamonas Beach. The Internet Cafe in Delphi sold 90 minute Profitel access blocks (you get a username and password and can log in and out for upto 90 minutes of logged in time).
Some Internet cafes allowed Ethernet cable connection, as an alternative to wireless, but many didn't. It may be useful to carry your own Ethernet cable. You may also be able to transfer material to and from a USB dongle, but this kind of access isn't ubiquitous either. So, Webbased email does have an advantage.
Some wireless access offered by hotels and Internet Cafes is "secure" WEP encrypted and require a password to be entered at the network level. Others require a password to be entered via the browser.
60 and 90 minute cards were available in Greece from G-Net and Profitel (Wiplus). There seemed to be a few Secured "D-Link" and "Connex" WiFi Access Points showing up around Greece.
If you have difficulty accessing WiFi Access Points, it may or may not be useful to run eeeAP. However, there seems to be some confusion about what this software does and whether it is required. If it isn't on the desktop go to Favourites and add it via the "Customise" icon.
As my Canon vidoe recorder requires firewire and I have been using Kino to Edit video, the holiday video was edited the holiday video on the old Knoppix/Targa. More on this at Video Editing.
The eeePC plays the "High Quality 640x480" Ogg/Theora clips of the directly from the USB Dongle, though there is room to transfer the clips to the internal Solid State storage. You do need to use the media manager rather than the video manager, which is for MPEG stuff, to play the Theora/Ogg clips, or just click on the clip you want to view. If the raw video was accessible to the eeePC, it would probabl cope with the editing too.
www.ramin.com.au/linux/eeepc-aegean.shtml © Ramin Communications 2007. Last modified 4 June 2009.