By Mike Joubert 24 March 2010


Way back at the end of 2007, Asus created the Eee PC, a notebook so small that calling it a notebook just didn't seem fitting. It sparked the netbook explosion, and soon these little computing devices were all the rage. The next generation of these devices is now seeing the light of day, with Asus once again up there as one of the leaders of the pack. The Eee PC Seashell Karim Rashid collection emphasis good quality design, backing it up with the latest multi-touch gesture control on the trackpad.

We must say that the work that designer Karim “the Poet of Plastic” Rashid did on the Seashell looks smashing (even better than Vivienne Tam's job with the HP Mini 1000). The textured wave finish, available in coffee brown and hot pink, creates a fantastic look and feel, and is applied not only to the top cover, but also to the bottom of the netbook. Furthermore Asus covered all the ports (except for the SD card slot) with the same plastic, so when the Seashell is closed it looks like one unified piece of cool.
The Seashell is powered by the second generation Intel Atom N450 processor, running at 1.66 GHz. This Atom N450 is more energy efficient since it’s now a two chip platform instead of a three chip one as with the previous N270 version. It's good to see the Eee PC progressing beyond Windows XP since it now runs on Windows 7 Starter edition. Quite efficiently we might add, since the 2 GB of RAM gives the machine very capable performance. Also onboard is a decent size hard disk with 250 GB of storage available.
Next to the sides you’ll find two USB ports, plus a SD card slot to help with the transfer of your pictures. The VGA port is cleverly tucked away underneath the machine. If you want to connect the Seashell to an external monitor, the VGA port needs to be taken out and then connected to the mini VGA port on the side.  

One of the downsides to these little machines is that keyboard layout usually takes some kind of knock in the miniaturisation process, with the Seashell also falling prey to this. For some strange reason Asus squeezed in a # key where the Enter key is suppose to start, changing the usual QWERTY layout you'll find on most PCs, plus the characters typed didn't always match the ones stated on the keyboard. Both these problems might just be on the demo unit that we've received for review. Apart from this we didn’t really have any other hassles with Asus’ chicklet styled keyboard. We found it remarkably nice to type on with good tactile feedback. The keys weren’t too small and the layout spacious for such a small contender, although, as with all netbooks, you will have to get use to it before your typing speed will be up to scratch.
Gesture control
The gesture control on the trackpad was another interesting inclusion. Granted you don’t have much space to work with, but the pinch and zoom capabilities came in handy when zooming into pics or documents. That said some of the gestures, like rotating pictures, are hard to master.
Also onboard
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are included, as well as a 1.3 megapixel webcam making the device ready for applications such as Skype. Running movies on the Eee PC worked just fine and we were actually surprised at the quality of the sound which was better than we’ve experienced on some full sized machines. This is mainly due to the SRS premium sound package installed in the Eee. Microsoft Works comes standard so you don't have to worry about purchasing Office extra.
Battery life
According to Asus you can get up to six hours of battery life on the device, but with regular usage of Word, browsing and music all on a screen with medium brightness, we got in the range of three hours. It's good to see that the AC adapter included is also smaller- it ads a nice touch to the miniature netbook package. 
The Asus Seashell Karim Rashid netbook is one cool piece of tech, in no small way thanks to the look and feel of its wave design. When lining it up to the first generation Eee PCs there is just no comparison- not just on looks but also on specs, since the 2 GB of RAM and 250 GB hard disk space makes for a very effective system.

The Asus Seashell Karim Rashid comes with a RRP of R5000. Contact PC Pro Shop (PTA) on 012-348-4000, or Naked IT (JHB) on 011-482-5493 for more info.
One unified piece of cool, latest Intel Atom, decent amount of RAM, MS Works
Battery life could have been better, key in a strange place, gesture control a bit difficult

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