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Riding with the Top Down

A convertible netbook that's great on the go

By Jay Zeffren

Despite the inherent portability of netbooks, sometimes they're still not portable enough. Even the smallest, lightest netbooks need a lap to sit in. When you're caught standing on a bus, or you're stuck in a line, or you just want to walk around with your netbook in hand, you're out of luck.

ASUS Eee PC T91 Tablet Netbook ComputerOr you might be if it weren't for ASUS's Eee PC T91 Convertible Tablet Netbook. The computer is a convertible notebook boasting the portability of a netbook with the convenience of a tablet PC.

The computer can be used as a standard netbook, typing and navigating with a keyboard and trackpad. This mode gives you all the typical functionality netbooks provide, including wi-fi web access and word processing.

What makes the T91 shine is the convertible form factor which allows the netbook to be used as a tablet PC. A smooth pivoting hinge provides quick, easy transition from one mode to the other. The resistive touchscreen is sensitive to pressure from the finger or included stylus, letting you navigate, draw, and even type using the movable, resizable virtual keyboard. A small button at the base of the screen lets you change from a standard Windows XP interface to a touch-friendly mode with large icons for easy navigation.

Weighing in at just over two pounds, the T91 nests comfortably in one arm, giving your other arm the freedom to take notes, surf the web, or just doodle. When closed or in tablet mode, the netbook is slightly over an inch thick, 8.9 inches wide, and 6.5 inches long. It's about as small as netbooks come, and fits easily into a purse, backpack or briefcase without burdening you with heft.

The netbook comes with tablet-friendly software, including a notepad application which facilitates accurate and convenient finger- or stylus-based note taking, and a memo application that lets you drop small reminders on your desktop. The FotoFun application provides photo editing and organizing, allowing you to create unique photo album layouts with the touch of a finger.

Getting onto the net with the T91 is a snap. The built-in wireless card utilizes 802.11n wi-fi, giving you excellent download speed and wireless range. An integrated mic and webcam positioned at the top of the screen make video-chatting and web-conferencing easy.

The netbook has a 16GB solid state drive, and an included 16GB SD card for expanded memory. Additional SD cards can be swapped in and out to provide flexible memory usage. ASUS also offers an additional 20GB of online storage, which lets you upload and download files easily using a drag and drop user interface. A pair of USB 2.0 ports expands your storage even more, enabling you to connect additional portable hard drives and flash drives, as well as other peripherals like printers and media players.

Finding the right balance between power and portability can often be tricky, but the compact, flexible design of the T91 makes it an excellent netbook to carry around campus, bring to meetings, or just to have with you on your daily commute.

ASUS's Eee PC T91 Convertible Tablet Netbook

1.33GHz Intel Atom Z520

Hard drive 16GB SSD
Chipset Intel SCH US15W
Display Type: Glossy Widescreen Touch-Sensitive LED Backlit LCD
Size: 8.9"
Native Resolution: 1024 x 600
Graphics Integrated Intel Graphics
Operating System Windows XP Home
Dimensions (WxHxD) 8.9 x 1.1 x 6.5" (22.5 x 2.8 x 16.4cm)
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.1 pounds
Battery 28.49Wh Lithium-polymer (5 hours)
Wi-Fi: 802.11n
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
WebCam Yes
Category Netbook

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