Eee PC T91 hands-on!We’ve been playing with the Asus Eee PC T91 for a few days now, twisting its screen around and poking around. Is it the leap forward for netbooks we were hoping for? Find out in our first impressions.

We’ve already photographed the Eee PC T91 for you from every angle, but if you’re wondering what it’s like to use once the novelty off the twisting screen wears off, there’s good and bad news.

On the plus side, the Eee PC T91 is a robust bit of kit. It’s nowhere near as thin as the Seashell, but there’s no danger of swiveling that screen right off its hinge. Specs wise, it’s perfectly reasonable: 1GB of RAM and a 1.33GHz Atom Z520 processor keep things running along smooth enough, and the battery goes for a reasonable 3 hours plus at a stretch.

For the most part, the touchscreen works well, and the pop out stylus is a pleasure to use. The whole experience should get even better too: Asus says the Eee PC T91 will come with its Magic Desktop software when its released. It wasn’t ready to try yet but a demo video shows it off, and it should make accessing more applications easier when the Eee PC T91 is in tablet mode.

There are problems though. Whereas the Eee PC 1008HA Seashell nailed the form factor and specs right off the bat, the Eee PC T91 feels more like the Eee PC 701: a first-gen bit of tech that’s going to set major trends rather than become a revolutionary gadget in itself.

Asus Eee PC T91 hands-on

Firstly, I genuinely believe  a touchscreen is useful on a netbook. Unlike on a desktop or 15 inch laptop, it does become almost instinctive to switch between keyboard and screen, giving big buttons on a web page a tap rather than scrolling around with a tiny trackpad to click them. And although I’ve found very little use for flattening the screen on top, tablet style, twisting it has been useful to show people what I’m looking at or working on. These two features ought to become standard on business netbooks at the very least in future.

But in this case, the Eee PC T91 is let down by two things: the touchscreen itself and the size. The Eee PC T91 touchscreen isn’t responsive close to the edges, meaning it can be very difficult to close maximized windows. Secondly, it’s a nine inch netbook: it’s too small. In the time since the Eee PC T91 was unveiled in January, Asus has almost completely phased out its nine inch lines, because like its competitors it’s realised that the extra screen real estate and keyboard size do count. I’m inclined to wait for the Eee PC T101H, the Eee PC T91′s bigger brother with the same Yoga instructor flexibility.

The Eee PC T91 is set to go on sale next month for £449. That’s a steep price to pay, but this is the first innovation in a while we’ve seen that’s worth the mark up on an ordinary netbook – just bear in mind its successor could be even better.

Out June | £449 | Asus

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