Asus T91 touchscreen tablet netbook: 'Fun,' 'glorified app launcher,' 'not worth wait'

Summary:Asus' Eee PC T91 touchscreen tablet netbook first debuted at CES 2009 way back in January to high hopes: a fairly inexpensive ($499) touchscreen tablet PC for the masses.Turns out you're better off sticking to your iPod touch.

Asus' Eee PC T91 touchscreen tablet netbook first debuted at CES 2009 way back in January to high hopes: a fairly inexpensive ($499) touchscreen tablet PC for the masses.

Turns out you're better off sticking to your iPod touch.

The first flood of reviews for the device have arrived, and it ain't pretty.

First, the facts: the 8.9-inch, 2-lb. T91 offers a 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z520 processor (1400 MHz), 1 GB of DDR2 memory, a 16GB solid-state drive, Intel GMA950 graphics, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless connectivity, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a Lithium polymer battery rated at 5 hours and Microsoft Windows XP Home. The display rotates 180 degrees and folds down

With that out of the way, reviewers weren't that impressed. Perhaps touch technology has come a long way since January?

CNET calls the T91 a "pokey" iteration of already "pokey" netbooks:

"We appreciate Asus' attempt to keep the price firmly in traditional Netbook territory, and a convertible tablet laptop for only $499 seems like a good deal, even for one with a smallish 9-inch screen."

Engadget said the T91 was "worth checking out," even though they'd "have a hard time" justifying buying it:

"The software included with the T91 is really nicely designed, and operates pretty much as advertised. There are limitations to the CPU and the resistive touchscreen...but the touch interface also functions better than we expected...[it's] a product we'd have a hard time justifying the purchase of -- because the custom apps aren't that useful, but they are kind of fun."

Gizmodo was typically more aggressive, calling the T91 "much better as the glimmer of hope in our eye" at CES:

"I'm just not sure why anyone would want this...with the exception of being able to literally scribble notes and some whizbang photo flick gestures, there's nothing you can accomplish with Asus's custom widget OS overlay you couldn't do on a regular netbook with a regular Windows XP build. And a glorified app launcher for a handful of custom apps + a widget desktop that essentially exist just to lie on top of Windows XP to make touch actually usable aren't exactly compelling reasons to spring for a tablet."

LAPTOP magazine simply called the T91 "underwhelming" and "not worth the wait":

"We give credit to ASUS for innovating; the touch features on the ASUS Eee PC T91 definitely break the netbook mold. However, its underpowered processor results in an underwhelming experience...also, at $499, the Eee PC T91 is $100 more expensive than other netbooks that, while lacking a touchscreen, have larger 10-inch displays, and have batteries that last twice as long."

Would you buy a $499 Asus T91 touchscreen tablet?

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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