One of the problems with the Asus Eee 4G is the small size of the keyboard. The keys are too tight for me to type as quickly as I normally do (80-120 words per minute). Perhaps HP found the solution for its mini-notebook: the keys have almost no gap between them, resulting in a larger keycap; on the 4G, the keys look traditional: somewhat wedge-shaped.
One solution to the too-small keyboard is to use an external keyboard. I have a no-name keyboard with USB connector. I plugged it in, opened OpenOffice writer, and began typing. It worked.
This solves the problem at home, but not for fast typing -- such as live blogging -- on the road.
For the road, you might consider the flexible keyboard from Targus. It a full size keyboard made of rubber, and so can fold and roll up -- even fit inside a small backpack. The keyboard works well for me; the one drawbackis that the backspace key is curiously small, and so I tend to miss it, hitting another key instead.
Maximimizing the Screen
Similarly, the small screen is small. I don't mind the 7" size; it's the low resolution (800x480) that makes it a bit tough to see a lot at one time. One solution is to optimize the software by eliminating unnecessary UI items, like toolbars and status bars, or going to a smaller font.
(There is a limit to smaller fonts, however: the low resolution renders small fonts unreadable.)
Most programs have a View item in the menu bar: choose View | Toolbars to turn off toolbars. Some programs run in fullscreen mode, which maximizes the page:
- Firefox -- press F11 to toggle fullscreen mode.
- OpenOffice -- press Ctrl+Shift+J, or use the View | Full Screen menu.
Another solution is to attach an external monitor. And it need not be an expensive one, for the maximum resolution supported by the 4G is 1024x768. Even a 14" or 17" used LCD monitor would do, for I don't know that you can even buy 1024x768 monitors anymore!
After attaching the external monitor, you need to run the Settings | Desktop Mode program to redirect the video output and set the resolution -- as I described earlier in "Asus Eee with Data Projectors & Wireless Mice."
By the time you've added the external hard drive, external keyboard, external mouse, external monitor, and whatnot, eventually you begin to wonder, "Have I destroyed the point?" That tiny notebook has become a cumbersome octopus.
For an extra $100, you can get a fullsize notebook that includes the fullsize keyboard (save $50 on buying an external one), full size and full resolution monitor (saves $150), high-capacity hard drive (save $100), dual-layer LightScribe DVD burner (save $100), 3-4GB RAM, and so on.
But that full-size notebook destroys the purpose of the Eee 4G: the portability of a PalmPilot merged with the capabilities of a notebook computer. The question is one of compromise.