Engadget has published a detailed review of the Asus Eee PC T101MT convertible touchscreen style netbook which recently started shipping in the the US. And overall, Engadget’s Joanna Stern seems to think the machine works pretty well — as a netbook. Unfortunately, the T101MT’s defining feature is the fact that it’s not just a netbook, it can also be used as a tablet. And when you fold the screen down and try to use the computer in tablet mode, you’re in for a rather unpleasant experience.

First, it has a resistive multitouch display instead of a capacitive screen. That means you can easily interact with the screen with the included stylus or by pressing your fingers on the screen rather hard.

But the bigger problem is that the computer ships with Windows 7 Starter Edition, which doesn’t support multitouch gestures, doesn’t automatically bring up an on-screen keyboard when you tap on a text box, and doesn’t support flick gestures (such as navigating through web sites in Internet Explorer by tapping and dragging on the web page instead of the scrollbars).

Asus does bundle a third party on-screen keyboard, but you need to bring it up manually every time you want to enter text. And you’re going to end up tapping at the keyboard with a stylus instead of your fingers since the resistive display isn’t that responsive to fingertips and the operating system doesn’t recognize multitouch.

Asus does offer the Eee PC T101MT with Windows 7 Home Premium in other countries, but has no plans to offer that option in the US. Of course,  you can upgrade from Windows 7 Starter yourself for about $50. But even if you do that, there are some issues. There’s no accelerometer, which means the display won’t auto-rotate when you change from landscape to portrait mode. You have to press a button to manually rotate the screen – which Joanna says takes about 5 seconds.

All in all, if the Eee PC T101MT sold for under $400, I suppose you could say it was just another netbook with the added bonus of a touchscreen that you could use if you really wanted it. But at $499, the T101MT is a premium device (for a netbook, anyway), and you kind of expect it to work better as a tablet, since the touchscreen interface is its main selling point.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t just with the Asus tablet. As I pointed out in my CTL Convertible Classmate PC2 review, I’m just not sure that it makes sense to build a touchscreen tablet with the same specs as a typical netbook (Windows 7, Intel Atom CPU, and 1024 x 600 pixel display). I’ll have a review of the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3t later this week, and by way of preview, I can tell you right now that it’s not without some issues as well.

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10 replies on “Asus Eee PC T101MT reviewed: Decent as a netbook, awful as a tablet”

  1. It’s such a shame that so many on-line reviewers only got hold of the US version of this machine. I work in IT in Australia and I’ve set up about 50 of these machines for clients and was so impressed I got one for myself (actually got one + a T91MT) and am using it now (as a tablet).

    None of the machines I’ve sold have Windows 7 Starter, all of them have Windows 7 Home Premium, all of them have Bluetooth, all of them have automatic on-screen keyboard when touching text boxes, all of them have the full suite of customizable flick gesture controls, and all of them have full multi-touch screens & trackpads out-of-the-box. And there’s nothing at all wrong with the resistive multi-touch digitizer – it’s responsive and doesn’t require heavy touching at all (and is, like most things on Windows, adjustable) and it is accurate in a way capacitive types aren’t. I’m upgrading to the dual-core version of this machine.

    If you’re out there and don’t live in the US then ignore any reviews from US sites as the reviews do NOT apply to the rest-of-the-world models which are excellent. If you live in the US, ignore US reviews anyhow and get on-line and buy a foreign model. Why the decision was made to hamstring this device for the US market I know not.

  2. Shipping with Windows 7 starter is definitely a disappointment, but this was done for the price point. You can upgrade to Win 7 Home premium and add 1 gig of memory of about $100 more and it will be very quick. $550.00 for a netbook that converts to a tablet sounds reasonable.

    You do need to use the Super Performance Mode for inking which will reduce battery charge life a bit.

    Overall, this is a decent machine. Not truly outstanding, but definitely worth looking at.

  3. I will wait for a Classmate with dual core Atom Nxxx (not the Dxxx
    version), active digitzer, and higher resolution screen, and 6 cell battery.

    This will hopefully come out by the end of the year, if not by middle of next year.

  4. I sat down with ASUS last month to air my complaints about the T101MT. I thought the build quality was decent, feels much more solid then many other netvertibles on the market.

    If felt the biggest problem with this model was that it was pre loaded with too much bloatware. Way too much crappy software, there were over 80 processes running in the background right after boot up!

  5. I think, Brad, you’re having a tough time separating the issues because they’re managing to get ** everything wrong **:
    * Inadequate resistive sensor
    * Poor resistive firmware
    * Poor software (at the OS/app level), followed by crippling the OS
    * Substandard hardware design
    * Poor viewing angles (which are essential for the device)

    At least that’s the impression I get. It’s disheartening, because Asus is a pretty talented hardware vendor. How did they manage not to improve over last year’s model?

    1. I think a lot of it comes down to price. I have no doubt that asus, acer,
      Lenovo and others could put out excellent windows 7 tablets, but not in the
      $500 price range.

      At that price point I think it makes a lot more sense to focus on ARM-based
      tablets running Linux or Android – and pressuring Google to open up he
      android market to tablets.

      1. I don’t disagree. And frankly, that’s not surprising. But some of these problems (particularly in regards to touch input) are an issue on the pricier models, too. And on phones. I’m just generally getting the sense that the only company with any real competency in actually shipping multitouch displays is Apple. That’s bad news if you want to see some serious competition in the segment.

  6. By way of a hint at the issues you’re having with the S10-3t, would you say it’s more software, or is the hardware just not that great a match to a touch based use model? or a combination of both?

    Bonus question, would you say the issues you’re encountering are something that would have annoyed you before seeing the iPad, or even an iTouch, or have those experiences altered what you’d expect out of a touch interface laptop?

    Just fishing for oppinions, nothing too concrete until the review 🙂

    1. Honestly, if you reread the CTL 2Go review and then imagine that computer
      *without* Windows 7 Pro and a decent touchpad, you’ll get a pretty good
      idea. 🙂

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