While the ASUS Eee PC 1201N is based on the same Seashell design and features as our previous favored Eee PCs, the 1005HA and 1005PE, the 12-inch LCD, dual core Intel Atom CPU and NVIDIA ION graphics make the Eee PC 1201N so much more! With the larger LCD came a larger keyboard that was closer to a normal keyboard layout. The Eee PC 1201N also features the raised-dot multi-touch trackpad that many have come to love or hate.
While the Eee PC 1201N was not designed to be the leader in battery life, we were still impressed to see it surpassed the battery life performance of the ASUS N10Jc with the NVIDIA 9300m graphics. We expected the 1201N to perform similarly, but the result was an extra coveted hour of battery life both in idle and DVD playback tests. The only benefit the N10Jc had over the Eee PC 1201N was the ability to turn off the NVIDIA 9300m and just use the Intel integrated graphics in order to conserve battery life. As many may recall, NVIDIA recently announced an answer to this issue for ION2 by incorporating their Optimus technology into the new platform in order to allow the longest battery life possible while still having the discrete graphics when you need them. We look forward to this technology entering the netbook arena!
When it came to performance, the ASUS 1201N performed exactly where expected for the most part. The fact that the 2GB of system memory is shared with the NVIDIA ION graphics seems to have taken a fair hit on memory bandwidth performance. While it may not be a noticable performance hinderence for the average computer user, this could be one of the key factors limiting this netbook from being able to play more demanding DX10 video games. The games we tested, HAWX and Resident Evil 5 would not be considered playable to the die-hard gamer, however we did find that HAWX could be acceptable to those who want to just have the capability to play a game here or there without having the extra bulk of a full-blown gaming laptop. If you don’t mind an occasional or semi-frequent stutter, then HAWX may still be a playable title for the gamer with patience.
After our first experience with Windows 7 Starter on the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE, we were glad to see ASUS stuck with Windows 7 Home Premium on the Eee PC 1201N. Afterall, what would an NVIDIA ION-based netbook be without the ability to natively play DVDs. So we were glad to see ASUS recognized they did not really have a choice other than to use Windows 7 Home Premium over Starter.
While critics of netbooks may have many issues with netbooks in general, the ASUS Eee PC 1201N seems to answer the call. The 1366×768 12-inch screen offers much needed real estate for both the screen and keyboard. The discrete NVIDIA ION graphics offer an incredible improvement over Intel’s integrated GMA graphics in order to easily allow HD video playback on a netbook. With the built in HDMI output, the 1201N could even double as a nettop at home and a netbook on the go! We have also seen netbook hard drives move from the traditional 160GB to 250GB and that is a welcome improvement, as well. The most impressive feat of including all of these upgraded features is that the Eee PC 1201N can still be found for under $500!
Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS Eee PC 1201N puts their Seashell netbooks on steroids by increasing size an performance across the board. With a dual core Intel Atom 330 and NVIDIA ION graphics with a 12-inch LCD, the 1201N offers some of the best performance a netbook has to offer and still offer respectable battery life all for under $500. It is because of this that LR is awarding the ASUS Eee PC 1201N the LR Innovation Award!