Who needs touch anyway? While most of Asus’ previous Eee Tops have focused on bringing touch screens to the mainstream, the ET2003 abandons finger-centric aspirations and makes a stab at a more traditional all-in-one, ala Apple’s iMac. Although it can’t quite nail Apple’s design sensibilities, the $900 price point, which puts it $300 below the cheapest iMac, may make it a compelling choice for budget all-in-one buyers.
The ET2003 we received for review came with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor clocked at 2.2GHz, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, a 500GB SATA drive spinning at 5400 RPM, and ATI’s Radeon HD 4570 with 256MB of dedicated RAM, all set around a 21.6-inch widescreen display with full 1080p resolution. Other notable features include a built-in webcam, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and dual 3-watt stereo speakers, along with an included wireless mouse and keyboard.
The entire package measures just about two inches thick – making it right on par with Apple’s iMac and downright slender compared to Gateway’s bloated One ZX. On a desk, it measures 21.57 inches across – no wider than a typical monitor of the same size – so it’s easy to squeeze into just about any space. Weight of about 20 pounds feels like a bear when you’re moving around, but also gives it some presence on the desktop and prevents it from wiggling around or feeling cheap.
Design and Build Quality
To some degree, Asus has clearly copped some Apple attributes in the style department. The ET2003 features a glossy black bezel set flush with the display, silver trim, and rounded corners. But you won’t see us complaining. The ET2003 executes all of these elements well, and Asus has added some of its own cues too, like a stripe of bright chrome below the LCD, a prominent front speaker bar with a perforated silver grille, and a smoked acrylic surround piece. The acrylic has become a common addition in this type of computer, but Asus gives it a slightly different twist with a dished-out design that makes it seem as if the entire PC is sitting in a tray of glassy plastic. It shows through most evidently below the speaker bar, where an inch or so of blank space brings out the cupping in the plastic. Unlike the One ZX Series, Asus includes no ambient LED lighting, which would have been a nice touch on a machine we already consider more attractive than that competitor.
What is it about all-in-one PCs that makes manufacturers opt for the worst peripherals possible? Although Asus didn’t fall into the same trap as Gateway’s ZX One (supplying a mouse and keyboard that seem like they’re from the Dollar Store), the ET2003 comes packaged with a mouse and keyboard that seem destined for a kindergarten classroom. We’re talking a netbook-sized keyboard for a desktop computer here, folks. It spans only 11.75 inches across, from key to key. A real desktop keyboard, like Logitech’s Illuminated Keyboard, which we measured for reference, hits 16.5 inches – or 13.5 if we’re generous and exclude the number pad that Asus left off theirs. We realize Asus shares the Eee moniker with netbooks, but there is absolutely no reason to make a keyboard this cramped on a desktop computer. The same goes for the mouse, which, although less frustrating, still had our palms and fingers hanging off the side like gorilla hands.
In a quirk we’ve never seen before, the keyboard also produced @ symbols when we held shift on the number 2 key and ” double quotations when we held shift on the ‘ key, a swap of what each key is supposed to perform under shift.