Asus EeeBook X205TA review
Cheap, thin and weighs less than a kilogram, but it's sunk by numerous compromises
There’s definitely something of the netbook in the new breed of Windows 8.1 with Bing devices, so it’s fitting that Asus has revived the EeeBook brand with its new example. On first impressions, it’s surprisingly glamorous, with a matte champagne finish applied to all the plastics bar the keyboard and the frame around the screen. For a £175 laptop, it's fair to say that the Asus is something of a looker. See also: The best laptops of 2015
Asus EeeBook X205TA review: build and display quality
The feel isn’t quite so luxurious. While the base seems solid enough, the screen is flexible and flimsy, even compared with budget rivals. Still, at just under 18mm thick and 980g in weight, it’s the thinnest and lightest Windows 8.1 with Bing laptop we've seen yet.
The 11.6in, 1,366 x 768 display is a big step up from what we used to see on netbooks, too. It’s bright, at a maximum 288cd/m2, and the 414:1 contrast is nothing to sniff at. Unfortunately, it falls down on the depth and richness of its colours. Not only do they look flat, but the display gamut only covers 55% of the sRGB standard. The speakers are just as bad: very bright, twice as brash and frankly uncomfortable to listen to.
Asus EeeBook X205TA review: connectivity and performance
Corners have been cut on connectivity, with no USB 3 ports, and just two USB 2. Asus has also gone for a microSD slot and a micro-HDMI connector when full-sized connections are arguably more useful. There isn't much storage, either, with only 16.9GB of space available once Windows, Asus’s apps and the recovery partition have had their share, although this is less of an issue with a cloud-focused machine. One year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal with 1TB of storage is included.
The X205TA’s biggest issue is performance. Its CPU is a Bay Trail-T Atom Z3735F processor with four cores running at 1.33GHz, which just can’t keep up with the faster Celeron systems we've seen.
You’ll find speeds adequate for surfing the web or working on a Word document, but this isn’t as powerful or versatile a laptop as the similarly priced HP Stream 11 or Acer Aspire ES1-111M. On the plus side, battery life is superb, lasting over 14 hours in our light-use test. Even here, though, the Acer isn’t far behind.
Asus EeeBook X205TA review: verdict
Building a competitive cloudbook is a tough ask in the face of such strong competition, and while Asus has done alot right, the numerous flaws make the X205TA hard to recommend. If you're looking for an ultraportable, affordable laptop, then sadly the EeeBook X205TA just isn't good enough to compete with the HP Stream 11 - that's the one we'd buy.