Saturday, July 12, 2008

Asus Eee: The Play Tab

This tab by tab review of the Asus Eee's “easy” user interface moves on to the “Play” tab.

The first icon here is Games. Now I have to admit at this point that I'm not really that much of a computer games fan. An odd session of solitaire or Virtual Pool does me, so this is somewhere I'm unlikely to visit often. But tohers will, so what's here?

Solitaire is the first option, but rather than giving you just the usual Klondike or Yukon, you get 17 different games. Well not really. Three are Spider (Easy, Medium & Hard) and two are Klondike (draw 1 or draw 3), but that's still a decent number of games available, and they all play nicely.

Next up is Frozen Bubble, a game where as far as I can tell, the object is to shoot coloured bubbles at other bubbles until you clear the screen.

Crack Attack is the next offering, which is a block puzzle type game.

Penguin Racer is one the younger kids will love. If you've played Happy Feet on any of the various handheld consoles, this is similar.

Sudoko doesn't need any introduction, and should satisfy anyone who like doing these. There are a few game options in here to vary things slightly too.

Another one for the younger audience is Potato Guy, where the object is to create a Mr Potato Head type character using a range of differing facial and bodily characteristics.

Finally, Ltris is a Linux variation of the timeless Tetris.

So overall out of the box there's a variation of games for the younger audience, and some that will satisfy older users.

Back on the main Play tab, the next icon is Media Player which starts what appears to be an application that alows you to play DVDs or video files. I haven't had the opportunity to try this yet, but it looks functional rather than multi-featured.

Music Manager looks like a reasonably well featured music player. The sound from the Eee's twin speakers is actually quite decent considering the unit's size, so having some music files on your SD card or USB stick should make for some easy listening. Incidentally, the Eee has a standard 3.5mm audio jack, so you can use your favourite headphones.

Photo Manager allows you to mangage and display your photo collection, create albums, view via slideshows etc. Photo editing capabilities from the app appear minimal, though there does appear to the ability to use plugins. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I don't think I'd use the Eee for photo editing anyway - the screen size, processing power and memory limitations mean you're better off doing any serious editing on a desktop.

Video Manager presumably allows you to manage your videos, but looks pretty basic, and the aforementioned Media Player looks like it would do most of the things that Video Manager could.

Webcam opens the inbuilt webcam (note not all Eee models have a webcam). It works, ok but again as previously mentioned, it doesn't work with the deafult installed Pidgin messenger client. I've got it working ok with another messenger package I've installed, but that required some Terminal and command line stuff!

Finally on the Play tab is Sound Recorder, a simple app that allows you to use the built in mic to record simple sound files.

Some of the apps here are pretty basic, but some are more featured. What you need to remember though, is that all this comes as standard and works out of the box.

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