capsule review

Asus Eee Top ET1602 All-in-One Desktop PC

At a Glance
  • Asus EeeTop PC ET1602

    PCWorld Rating

    The ET1602 was among the first low-cost touchscreen all-in-ones, but it now feels overpriced compared to newer competition.

Review updated 02/01/10: The Eee Top ET1602 helped pioneer the low-cost, touchscreen all-in-one PC. It's a sleek little 15.6-inch unit, with a user-friendly touch interface, but it faces stiff competition from newer rivals with larger screens at a comparable price. The MSI Wind Top AE1900 comes to mind, as does Asus' own 20-inch ET2002 and 21.6-inch ET2203.

But Asus hopes that its software bundle will set the Eee Top apart. Beyond a large-icon program launcher (now expected on all touch-enabled PCs), Asus throws in a handful of touch-friendly programs, including some games, the Eee Cinema media viewer, and Eee Memo (a sticky-notes app). SoftStylus, another piece of software, lets you draw letters directly on the screen or use an on-screen keyboard. I didn't find SoftStylus particularly practical, however; using the included keyboard was much easier for me. Other apps to get you started include Opera, Skype, and StarSuite 8.

With its glossy white chassis and transparent plastics, the Eee Top looks like something Apple would design. Its 15-inch, 1366-by-768-resolution LCD touchscreen is small by desktop standards, but it is adequate for most basic tasks (Internet, word processing, light gaming, and the like), and it helps the Eee Top fit into a range of living environments. One of the all-in-one's best design touches is a carrying handle integrated into the angle-adjustable foot, so you can carry the Eee Top around. Of course, it helps that the Eee Top is light enough and compact enough that toting it around with one hand doesn't require you to have the arm strength of Alex Rodriguez.

Powered by a 1.6GHz Atom processor and running Windows XP Home, the Eee Top is no world-beater. In our PC World Test Center tests, the Eee Top achieved a WorldBench 6 score of 41, which is slow by desktop standards, and comparable to similarly priced netbooks. You won't want to run any high-end graphics programs or games on this machine; but for the basics, the Eee Top will get the job done.

Asus includes six USB 2.0 ports on the Eee Top, two of which occupy the left side (along with an SD Card slot) for easy access. One nagging design flaw, however, is the location of the Eee Top's headphone and microphone jacks on the unit's rear. The Eee Top is small enough that you can easily rotate it to reach the jacks, but I wish that Asus had included jacks on the front.

Another drawback: What you buy is what you get. The Eee Top is a completely closed system, and you can't upgrade the components inside--which you may find frustrating if you want more memory than the unit's included 1GB. (The system's storage, a 160GB hard drive, is also paltry.) In addition, Asus has omitted any optical drive.

Users who value expandability are clearly not the Eee Top's target audience. Instead, this computer and its components are most suitable for users who want a no-fuss PC to cover the basics, plus a touch screen to simplify performing certain activities.

The Eee Top's signature feature is its display, with touchscreen capabilities. Colors are bright and vibrant, and the screen accepts both finger input and touch input--though not multitouch as the HP TouchSmart IQ816, HP TouchSmart IQ500t, or Dell Studio One 19 do. That system supports two fingers at once for iPhone-like pinching gestures.

The Eee Top also sports some healthy networking features, namely gigabit ethernet and 802.11b/g/n wireless. The bundled keyboard and mouse lack certain features (the keyboard has no numerical keypad, for example), but I found them usable, and I liked the keyboard's feel and tactile response.

If you're looking for a computer for the kitchen, for your kids, or perhaps for the technophobe in your life, the Eee Top is still worth a look. But remember that just $30 more will get you an almost-identically configured 19-inch system from MSI or Averatec.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The ET1602 was among the first low-cost touchscreen all-in-ones, but it now feels overpriced compared to newer competition.

    Pros

    • Compact, attractive design
    • Easy-to-use, touch-friendly interface

    Cons

    • Some utilities are clunky
    • No optical drive
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