(Re-) Introducing ASUS EeePC 1215N

It’s been a while since I last reviewed a netbook. Even though the netbook market is pretty huge right now, there’s a couple of pretty good reasons for this. First, the iPad factor—tablets have the buzz, and devices like the Galaxy Tab, RIM PlayBook, and anything and everything else with a touchscreen are far more interesting than the bog standard netbook. Two, they all have basically the same hardware in slightly different cases. If you’re ASUS, that means you’ve got roughly 20 different models with the same basic internals and otherwise minor changes to differentiate them all.

But this one, the 1215N, is actually different. You’ve got a dual-core Atom (a desktop Atom D525, not the new N550), a 12” screen, and NVIDIA’s Next Generation ION (NG-ION) platform, all in a tasty aluminum wrapper. Like the 1201N it’s replacing, it’s a unique riff on the netbook theme. Thankfully, most of the inane netbook limitations are gone, so the 1215 has a solid 2GB memory and Windows 7 Home Premium (as opposed to the awfulness that calls itself Win 7 Starter). All the other standard stuff is here too—Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. It’s a full featured netbook, except on steroids.

ASUS EeePC 1215N Specifications
Processor Intel Atom D525
(1.80GHz, 45nm, 1MB L2 cache, 13W)
Chipset Intel NM10
Memory 2x1GB DDR3-1066
Graphics NVIDIA Next-Generation ION
(16SPs, 475/790/1092 Core/Shader/RAM clocks)
Intel HD Graphics (Optimus Switchable)
Display 12.1" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 250GB 5400RPM HDD (Seagate ST9250325AS)
Optical Drive None
Networking Atheros AR8152 Fast Ethernet
Atheros AR9285 BGN
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 6-Cell, 10.95V, 5200mAh, 56Wh battery
Front Side None
Left Side Flash reader (MMC/MS/MS Pro/SD/xD)
1 x USB
Cooling Exhaust
AC Power connection
Right Side Headphone/Microphone jacks
Kensington Lock
2 x USB 2.0
Back Side None
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions 11.65" x 8.0" x 0.91-1.46" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.21 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
86-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-touch touchpad
ExpressGate OS (8-second boot)
Warranty 1-year global warranty
6-month battery pack warranty
30-day zero bright dot LCD
Pricing ASUS EeePC 1215N Silver starting at $484

Compared to the outgoing 1201N, not much has changed here. It's the same basic hardware configuration in a similar chassis; the biggest difference is the bump from the first gen ION platform to Pine Trail and NG-ION, with a slightly higher CPU clock. It’s still pretty great as far as netbook specs go, but it costs significantly more than most netbooks. Our favorite 1001P goes for $299, while the 1215N goes for $499. Can the performance upgrades justify the large amount of additional cost, and how does it hold up versus similarly priced notebooks running AMD’s Nile platform? There are some other interesting questions; NG-ION is not significantly faster than the first-gen ION platform, so will the 1215N be better than the 1201N? And then you’ve got the N550 in play now as well; now that there are plenty of dual-core 10” netbooks out there, is the 1215N as different as it seems at first look? Let’s find out.

Checking Out the ASUS Eee PC 1215N
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  • mutter - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Agreed with Evil_Sheep aside from the Macbook Air being nearly perfect... more so than even most apple products the air is an expensive toy.

    Since 2003 I have prefered laptops under 4 pounds with 12-14" screens. My selections were from the Dell XPS series, Satellites and even some offerings by the shitty company Averatec... my latest is a 1201n and it has been my most loved. I hope a better alternative to the Atom can be used to push variety and usefulness of machines in this size and capacity.
  • 86waterpumper - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    I have had a lenovo ideapad s12 for awhile now. I agree with what most are saying. I love the size of this netbook and it has worked out well. I think 12 inch is the perfect compromise in size.
    I knew when I bought it that the atom cpu would be the achilles heel of the system but at a 400 dollar pricepoint I saw nothing to compete with it.
    I like the fact that mine has the more usable 1280 x 800 screen resolution. I have used some of the 10 inch netbooks and they are pretty well worthless for web surfing and the keyboards suck bad if you are able to type at a decent speed.
    I also do NOT want a 16:9 screen. This machine does have regular windows 7 and 2 gigs of ram, in fact it is very similar to the tested asus here except obviously for the dual core. It has been used alot lately for watching dvd rips on trips for the kids, and to play games such as plants vs zombies and of course email and internet surfing. I do wait for the cpu here and there, I found that the main place it really lagged was trying to stream hulu in 480 or 720p over the hdmi. However it will do this smoothly when it is run at 1.8ghz via oc software :P
    One thing I am really jealous of is the ability to turn off the ion graphics this is the only thing killing my battery time. Eventually I will hand this down to the kids but I am hopeful that in the next couple of years we will get some real solutions for a better netbook type cpu that still gets a good battery life. A decent 2ghz dual core would rock whether it be from amd or intel either one.
  • svojoe - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    I feel like this article should have mentioned something really important. Unless I am very mistaken Intel removed Nvidia's ability to access the ATOM directly when it released pinetrail. Forcing Nvidia to access ATOM via the pci bus. Basically killing ION. NG ION only brings one real advantage and thats the ability to switch between pinetrail and the ION chip. But while its a modest power saving feature. The real benefit of the ION is gaming and decoding and that can't really get a whole lot better. Regardless of cores or clocks because the bandwidth has been castrated.

    I feel like if this is true at least some bone should be thrown to Nvidia for playing against a stacked deck. If it wasn't for Intel trying to protect there vision of our ATOM based future its entirely possibly NG ION could have been really worth while.

    Yeah its better, yeah dual core atom is a little faster. But I don't think this is compelling enough better to jump from my HP Mini 311, almost two years and no real advancement in the 12" and under portable gaming market.

    Well I guess I made a future proof choice being a early adopter of the ION platform. But its so frustrating to see so much potential.
  • lowlymarine - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    With the U30Jc being readily available for $750 these days (http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-U30JC-X3K-13-3-Inch-Lap... I'd find it difficult to recommended a $500 12" netbook to anyone. For $250 (and the loss of internal Bluetooth, I suppose) you move from an Atom to a Core i3, NG-ION to a 310M (though the only real differences there are clocks and 1x vs 16x PCI-E, those add up to a fairly major performance delta), 2GB of DDR2 to 4GB of DDR3, a 250GB hard drive to a 500GB one, gain an internal DVD+/-RW drive, not to mention get markedly better battery life, which from a portability standpoint should outweigh the minor difference in weight to most people.

    While it's true that $250 isn't exactly pocket change, I'd argue that over the life of the machine it'd be a small price to pay to avoid the unpleasant experience that is Windows on an Atom. I've been there, and I'm in no hurry to go back.
  • svojoe - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    $750 is too much, thats just it. If I was going to spend $750 I'd get a 'real' portable gaming laptop and skip ATOM or even CULV altogether.

    The appeal of these gaming netbooks is bizzare but strong, Sure, it sucks at games. but IT DOES game (even if it sucks) You should see it, I play CIV 4 with friends, they have dual-core machines that superPI in 35 seconds. (my atom takes over 2 minutes) but my CIV 4 game is buttery smooth, scrolling/zooming etc etc. They are watching a slide show with the Nvida 7400's,amd 4225's and the Intel HD's on much faster computers. And my netbook is small, I have a 11.6" 1366x768 screen that is more crisp and looks sharp as hell since its so small compared to there 15.6" screens. If we figured out a price for dollars vs FPS in the $500 or less market I bet this comes out on top barring any black friday deals. You go near $400 and forget about it. ATOM+ION gives you something nothing else can compete with. Tiny and almost-real modern gaming, with good last gen gaming.

    It tears up old games, Battery lasts 3.5 hours hardcore gaming, 4 hours light gaming and 5 hours dim screen browsing. Thats killer for almost anything with real discrete graphics.

    I can expound about ION for a long time, but I think the biggest difference is that I k now its weaknesses and I have atoned for that. I feel like almost every reviewer and almost everyone that comments on this stuff really misses the point. ITS CHEAP! and Tiny! Decent battery! games! aaaahhhh!

    Sorry just freaking out a bit. I agree with you 100% that a couple hundred bucks gets you into a whole new world, but this thing will be at $425 retail very soon, (who sells at list price?) and to kick it up to 700$ to get albeit a lot more performance is the equivalent of getting a 27,500$ car instead of a $18,500 car to get a 6cyl with automatic windows and locks and a higher trim package. Some people go for it, Others just need to get there even if it isn't pretty.

    I want more products and competition in this market. I want bettering gaming, smaller, faster and cheap. I want it all! And as sad as it is Atom-ION is it when yo factor it all in. (size, price, gaming, battery)
  • Penti - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Do you still have problem running Adobe Flash Player on NG-ION (high-res videos)? Have it gotten any better, I do see the bandwidth limit as a big usage issue and disadvantage. Why not build on GS40 and a Core 2 based Celeron instead in these cheap lappys? At least they should handle flash more or less fine. I mean come on for this price you can even get a 11.6" system with Nehalem/Core i based ULV. And just the OS is a fifth of the price really.

    Can't these Atom models just die already? The point became meaningless when the OS got upped to more then $20 USD and the screensize got enlarged, but they still don't offer anything better then the ULV alternatives. It's actually just a pain that they do sell computers with just 1GB of ram, just because they has that as a limit for 7 Starter OEM-licenses. Upping to 2GB also means upping the OS cost by about 80 USD. Adding in a Broadcom CrystalHD accelerator and a 300 dollar netbook becomes a 450 dollar one, and then you could just get some dualcore Core 2 based thing. Which won't really have any worse battery life or anything. (Look at the comparison, they usually have worse battery life if they are atombased). Asus got much better options like outgoing UL30A/newer UL20FT or UL80Vt, or any of the Acer's with ULV.
  • frederico - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    I am an enthusiast with a powerful desktop, 3 laptops of varying ages and a netbook

    At the moment I find myself using the netbook more and more

    I can veg with it outside in the sunlight, pick it up and browse while watching the tv, use it on regular long train journeys, watch films on it at night falling asleep, etc, etc

    I couldnùt do this if the netbook had the same weight portability and battery life as a laptop

    Let me rephrase - a netbook is a thing with long battery life, portability and low weight.

    A laptop is cumbersome, heavy and has short battery life (I have 3)

    My current samsung netbook is tiny and has an 8 hour battery life - great.. BUT, like most netbooks, it cannot play HD, .mkv files, open a lot of flash, or do a spot of light gaming - something that is crucial to me (not most netbook users)

    Its a lifesaver but I need something with just a tad more cpu power, graphics power, and that won't roast the legs off me - BUT maintains the same portability and battery power (very important)

    This ASUS is about the only netbook out there with favourable reviews that fits the bill (except for the dodgy fragile power pin - check amazon reviews)

    Just wanted to clarify the above - as the reviewers and comments here seemed to be a little hazy as to its function
  • gralex - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    Totally agree!

    And would like to take it even further by saying "I'm tired of having a (full blown) laptop". I just don't see the point of having a laptop AND a netbook (assuming of course, one has a desktop). I actually DO need a "netbook on steroids". A lot of you are probably thinking "Yeah but then what you REALLY need then is a CULV that'll run circles around...". No, I don't. And here's why:

    I'd rather spend 500€ now and another 500 in 2 years, instead of 1000€ now and another in 4 years. It's also easy to poke fun at an Atom (I'm looking at you, The0ne) and a dinky little ION, but here's the deal. I run Seti@home and have had the 1215n for almost 2 two months now. The Atom+ION combo is 15x faster than the 2,8GHz processor on my old laptop. Not to mention my old processor is rated at 73W! Plus Seti "sees" the Atom as having 4 cores and crunches 4 workunits simultaneously... go figure. Plus the ASUS can max out the Atom, ION, download non-stop over wi-fi at full connection speed (all in the background) while playing HD video on my Plasma (flawlessly I might add) and have the battery last approx. 4hrs! So for a "desktop" processor, an extra gig of ram, a larger hard drive, a higher resolution screen, "real" Windows 7, HTPC & light gaming capability.... It's totally worth the extra 200€! Especially since your browsers are going to be (officially) GPU accelerated soon. Not to mention the fact that your media players ALREADY are...

    CONS: Vivek's comments on the screen are 100% spot-on. Also the charger-pin is somewhere between the old Nokia chargers and the new ones, in size. It really IS scary to use. Trip over the power cord and I'm pretty sure you'll be without a laptop 'till it get's repaired. Lid and palmrest are plastic of course as stated in other comments (I've got the silver one), but I was suprised at how nice it is (you'll have to see it for yourself to understand that comment). Sturdy too. But the bezel and keyboard-surround are made of a flimsy, shiny plastic that's both cheap and ugly.
  • The0ne - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    Finally a comment that is sensible and reasonable to accept from Anandtech,

    "While most people label it a netbook, I wouldn’t strictly call it so—I tend to define netbooks as anything with a 10” screen running Atom at a sub-$400 price point. The 1215N has more power, a larger screen, and a higher price tag, but it’s still running Atom so it’s not an ultraportable laptop either. CULV will eat the dual-core Atom for lunch and not even bother spitting the bones out. You don’t even need to ask about Core i3 or its ULV equivalent."

    I hope users and Anand reviewers, especially Anand himself, would abide by your stance.
  • Hrel - Thursday, December 2, 2010 - link

    ASUS N53JF-XE1

    I think it's a pretty amazing deal for 1K. BD drive, 1080p screen, a DX11 GPU that will run every game out there smoothly at 1280x720 ie 720p. USB 3.0.

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