Battle of the featherweight notebooks: Everex CloudBook vs. Asus Eee

The popular Eee now has a new challenger with the same price, same size and a different Linux distribution

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Storage

One of the biggest differentiators between the two systems is the Eee's 4GB solid-state drive and the CloudBook's conventional 30GB hard drive. It's size versus speed. With an operating system and applications installed, you have less than 1GB of free space on the Eee, but almost 25GB on the CloudBook. (Granted, both the Eee and CloudBook have four-in-one flash memory card readers that, along with the USB slots, augment users' storage.)

But while the Eee can boot up in just 25 seconds, the CloudBook takes more than three minutes, including the time to enter your username and password. The CloudBook does offer a hibernate mode that takes about a minute to wake up from. Or take file copying -- copying a 925MB file from an USB drive to the CloudBook took 95 seconds. Copying the same file to the Eee took 70 seconds, despite the Eee's slower USB ports.

Bottom line

Depends on your needs, so -- it's even.

Keyboard

Buyers need to accept compromises from these extra-small notebooks, and the keyboard is a major place where compromise is necessary. However, though the keyboards and keys are exactly the same size in both units, I was surprised to find myself less error-prone with the CloudBook. I think the CloudBook has greater key depth -- in other words, the keys push in more.

However, this was dragged down by the CloudBook's patchy implementation of the blue Fn keys. I already mentioned the kludginess of adjusting the screen brightness. Worse is adjusting the volume through Fn+F10 and F11. It worked on the speakers, but failed to adjust the volume of the headphones.

Bottom line

It's a draw.

Touch pad

In my Eee review, I described its touch pad as being like the hero of a romantic comedy: sensitive and sturdy.

cb_keyboard_sm.jpg

The cursor controls are on top of the keyboard.

Click to view larger image.

The CloudBook's touch pad doesn't lack those qualities, but at just a quarter the size of the Eee's touch pad -- and located at the top-right corner of the keyboard -- it's hard to use.

The CloudBook's jet-black exterior also has a tendency to camouflage the track pad and its two buttons -- which are awkwardly located at the top-left corner of the machine. This arrangement does let you use the CloudBook while standing, but it's ultimately less handy for use when sitting down.

Bottom line

The CloudBook track pad is a victim to fashion. Big edge to the Eee.

Processor

The CloudBook would seem to have a big edge, since its Via C7-M chip set runs at 1.2 GHz, or double the 600 MHz of the Eee's Celeron chip (a still-unfixed BIOS prevents the Eee from attaining its 900-GHz potential). Based on my experience opening applications, transferring files and playing media files, the CloudBook pretty much lags behind the Eee in every task, though the CloudBook's slower storage is part of the reason.

Bottom line

Edge to the Eee.

Battery/fan

The Eee's 5,200 mAH Lithium-ion battery is over twice the capacity of the CloudBook's 2,200 mAH battery, and even the Eee's cheaper Surf model has a 4,400 maH battery. However, I found little difference in actual battery life. The CloudBook -- even with its fan whining like a hair dryer -- got the same 2.5 to three hours I get with my Eee. Meanwhile, the Eee takes twice as long to recharge.

The CloudBook's battery meter is unsatisfactory, however, giving conflicting readings of the remaining charge and shutting off without any pop-up warning when the charge runs low. The tiebreaker was the fan. The Eee may get hot, but the CloudBook's fan was ubiquitous and louder.

Bottom line

Edge to the Eee.
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