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GBM InkShow: The Asus Eee PC T91 Tablet PC



asust91It has been eagerly anticipated and now we can begin to take a look at the Asus Eee PC T91 Tablet PC. Thanks to the folks at Asus I got to check out a review unit and film this InkShow. After a few false starts the Asus T91 Eee PC is available from Amazon and other retailers beginning today July 15 for $499. Some will probably find that on the high side, and I for one hope we reach a day when Touch (and Tablet for that matter) don’t mean a premium price point.

The T91 is all about Touch and Asus has obviously spent time and resources to provide a Touch UI for you to work with called TouchGate. Optimized for touching, (larger buttons everywhere) TouchGate sits on top of Windows XP (Note, not Windows XP Tablet Edition). As you’ll see in the InkShow there are three ways to access what Asus calls the TouchGate UI. While it is very pretty and does offer you a way to Touch to your heart’s (or finger’s) delight, the lack of user configurability is a minus. You aren’t able to add your own programs or shortcuts to the central touch screen and this is by design. Asus wanted to make sure that everything worked well with what they’ve designed here and on one hand I can applaud that effort. On the other hand the TouchGate UI is resource heavy (note in the video how long the Yahoo widget screen takes to load). It makes me wonder if the amount of resources put into developing the TouchGate UI are really worth it in the end. Now, that comes from a geek who is familiar with Touch and Tablet interfaces. That said, I can see an average user finding this very convenient as opposed to navigating touch on a normal XP screen.

The T91 uses a resistive digitizer and I would say that has a very soft touch. That said, at times it was very responsive and at times not. The screen and the case is very glossy. In fact the glossy screen as you’ll see in the InkShow can be a real detriment. It is also a fingerprint magnet.

Asus includes a small, collapsible stylus that is good for pointing your way around the screen, but if you’re looking to do some Inking, this is not the device for you. While I was not surprised that Inking wasn’t an optimal experience here, it is puzzling given the note taking app that features some lovely handwriting on its example pages. As you’ll see I had to keep my hands off the 8.9 inch LED backlit screen in order to do any Inking. Again, not a surprise, but given the 8.9 inch screen size, I can’t even rest my hand on the bezel to aid in Inking.

The T91 is light and it is small. It weighs in at 2lbs. I’m glad it is configured with Touch in mind, because the small size limits the size of the keyboard and for my big hands, it is too small to get any real touch typing done. You mileage may vary.

Keep in mind that Asus is bringing another version of the T91 to market later this fall after Windows 7 ships that will include Multi-Touch. I’m looking forward to seeing what the T91A will offer as well.

Asus is touting 5 hour battery life and in my experience testing the unit with WiFi on, I’m seeing about 3.5 hours. Asus combines storage with an SSD or HD with what they call Eee Storage which is essentially using an SD or SDHC card (also MMC) to beef up the number of GB available that’s accessible from a port on the side of the unit. This is in addition to the SD/SDHC slot on the front of the device. The unit I’m testing has a 16GB SSD and 20GB of Eee storage available.

For Touch enthusiasts who are looking for a Netbook sized device, the T91 could very easily fill the bill. That said, I can’t help but think that we’ll see better Touch implementations in the Netbook class after Windows 7 ships. Of course that will depend on whether or not all the Touch and Tablet bits are enabled in the Windows 7 version you might purchase with the device.

(Note: There is a glitch about 2/3rds of the way through the InkShow that I didn’t catch until after the video was produced. Not much is lost, but apologies nonetheless.)

Inkshow length: 24:35

Here are some specs:

  • Genuine Windows XP Home
  • 8.9″ LED-backlit / Resistive Touch Panel Display
  • Intel Atom Z520 Processor
  • Intel US15W Chipset
  • LAN Onboard 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet controller
  • Wireless Data Networking WLAN: 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth V2.1
  • Memory 1GB (DDR2)
  • Storage Total 82GB (16GB Solid State Drive + 16GB SD Card + 30GB Portable Hard Disk Drive + 20GB Eee Storage)
  • Interface 1 x VGA port (D-sub 15-pin for external monitor)
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x LAN RJ-45
  • 2 x audio jacks: Headphone / Mic-in
  • Camera 0.3 M Pixel
  • Reader 3-in-1 MMC, SD, SDHC flash card slot
  • Audio Hi-definition audio CODEC
  • Built-in high quality stereo speakers
  • Digital Array Mic
  • Battery Life Li-Polymer battery, 5hrs
  • Dimensions 225mm (W) x 164mm (D) x 25.2 ~ 28.4mm (H)
  • Weight 0.96kg

MobileDemand is the InkShow sponsor and offers rugged Tablet PC systems for vertical industries.




  1. jberger

    07/15/2009 at 7:51 am

    Bummer on the lack of quality inking, that strikes it off my list.

  2. SAM

    07/15/2009 at 11:49 am

    What is the screen resolution? I didn’t get that far into the video before my connection choked.
    I wonder if the 10″ model will have the same case dimensions

    Is it possible to notate how large these video files are for us that have slow/metered connections or a low res option?

  3. Xavier Lanier

    07/15/2009 at 12:21 pm

    @SAM, Thanks for the suggestion and we’ll try to find a solution for you. We cross-post our shorter videos on YouTube, but unfortunately they don’t allow for videos over 10+ minutes.

    Could you tell me what kind of speed/caps you have on your connection?

  4. Warner Crocker

    07/15/2009 at 12:48 pm

    @SAM, sorry for that. I simply forgot to list the size. I’ll make a correction to the post.

  5. Joe

    07/15/2009 at 5:05 pm

    Ugh, manufacturers calling touchscreen things like this a “Tablet PC” are a big part of the reason real tablets have such a bad reputation in the general market.

  6. scoobie

    07/15/2009 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for that review Warner

    I believe the Win 7 version does have a capacitive touch screen as one of the SKUs

  7. SAM

    07/15/2009 at 8:37 pm

    We have a cell connection that has a 5gb cap or we get
    socked for expensive overage.
    Our office connection is a paltry 50-60 kbs, slow phone line DSL that is advertised at 125 kbs. I hope this is the correct measurement.)

    Maybe we’re in the minority for connection speed.
    If there isn’t enough requests for a smaller movie,
    then I wouldn’t want you to take the extra time just so
    a couple of us can view…

    Thanks for your response

  8. Amitai Rosenberg

    07/16/2009 at 3:57 am

    Nice Inkshow.
    Do you think that its performance is slower because of the Intel Atom Z520 Processor(compared to a regular netbook processor- N270/N280)?
    Too bad about the inking…

  9. Warner Crocker

    07/16/2009 at 6:02 am

    @Amitai I think it is a combination of the processor and the overhead from the Touch UI, but that’s not a scientific answer.

  10. La Tep

    07/22/2009 at 10:02 am

    How would one read an ebook in Mobipocket or eReader format when the T91 is in tablet mode, and access to the keyboard is not possible? Would it be possible to go from one page to another, given that this is not Windows XP Tablet PC??? I do this with ease on my Samsung Q1 UMPC.

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