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ASUS EeeBook X205TA Review: $199 Windows Laptop

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and First Impressions

The ASUS X205 offers the full Windows 8.1 notebook experience for the cost of a Chromebook, and the design offers a surprising amount of polish for the price. Is this $199 Atom-powered notebook a viable solution as a daily driver? We're about to find out.

Introduction

What do you use a laptop for? A thoughtful answer to this question can be the most important part of the process when selecting your next notebook PC, and if your needs are modest there are a growing number of very low-cost options on the market. For example, I personally do not play games on a laptop, typically alternating between web, email, and Microsoft Office. Thus for myself the most important aspects of a notebook PC become screen quality, keyboard, trackpad, and battery life. High performance is not of utmost importance, and I assure myself of at least speedy load times by always choosing (or installing) a solid-state hard drive. For those reasons when I first read the description and specifications of the ASUS X205 notebook, I took notice.

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The X205 is a small notebook with an 11.6” display and 1366x768 resolution, essentially matching the form-factor of Apple's 11.6" MacBook Air. It is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM, and onboard storage is solid-state - though limited to 32GB and of the slower eMMC variety (which is in keeping with many Chromebooks). There is adequate connectivity as well, with the expected wireless card and two USB 2.0 ports. One aspect of this design that intrigued me was the trackpad, which ASUS claims is using "smartphone technology", indicating a touchscreen digitizer implementation. Smoothness and accuracy are the biggest problems I find with most inexpensive notebook trackpads, and if this turns out to be a strong performer it would be a major boon to the X205's overall usability. I opted for the Microsoft Signature Edition of the X205TA, which carries the same $199 retail price but does not come preloaded with any trialware or other junk software.

At the outset this feels like a compelling product simply because it retails for the same price as an average Chromebook, but offers the flexibility of a full Windows 8.1 installation. Granted this is the “Windows 8.1 with Bing” version found on low-cost, low-power devices like this, but it offers the functionality of the standard version. While Chrome OS and Google's productivity apps are great for many people, the ability to install and run Windows applications made this highly preferable to a Chromebook for me. Of course beyond the operating system the overall experience of using the laptop will ultimately decide the viability of this inexpensive product, so without further preamble let's dive right into the X205TA notebook!

Continue reading our review of the ASUS EeeBook X205TA $199 Notebook!!

First we will check out the full specifications from ASUS:


Processor: Intel® Bay Trail-T Quad Core Z3735 1.33 GHz Processor
Operating System: Windows 8.1
Memory: DDR3L 1333 MHz SDRAM, 2 GB 
Display: 11.6" 16:9 HD (1366x768)
Graphics: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics
Storage: 32GB eMMC
Card Reader: Micro SD
Camera: VGA Web Camera
Networking: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
Interface: 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro HDMI, 1x Microphone-in/Headphone-out jack 
Audio: Built-in Speakers And Mic
Battery: 38 Whrs Polymer Battery
Power Adapter: 19 V DC, 1.75 A, 33 W
Input : 100 -240 V AC, 50/60 Hz universal
Dimensions (WxDxH): 286 x 193.3 x 17.5 mm
Weight 2.16 lbs


First Impressions

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The X205TA arrives in a box barely bigger than that of a large tablet, and inside the contents are secured simply but effectively.

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And here those contents are - all three of them. The X205TA is as simple as can be with only the notebook itself, a very small charger, and some paperwork in the box.

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The notebook is fairly thin and quite light, and it is finished in a soft-touch plastic that makes it easy to grip (and also collects finger oils like crazy).

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On the left side we have power, micro SD card slot, micro HDMI output, and audio in/out via a 3.5 mm combo jack. This card reader is SDXC compatible for micro SD cards 32 GB and over, and considering the very small 32 GB of onboard storage this would be an easy way to expand on that.

On the right side we just have the two USB 2.0 ports.

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Finally there is the included charger, which is quite small and could easily belong to a tablet. The connector is very small as well, and appears to based on micro-USB (although it is using a proprietary plug).

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Fans of macro photography will appreciate this photo

Next we'll take a closer look at three of most important hardware components on the laptop: screen, keyboard, and trackpad.


April 20, 2015 | 01:07 PM - Posted by collie

Great article, i want one at $200...... BUTTTTTT I just did a quick search and ever where O look it's closer to $300, even the amazon.com link from the article is $299 on sale 36% off, did the price rise since you started the article?

April 20, 2015 | 01:11 PM - Posted by collie

FORGET THAT, just found it for $199 NOT bundled with 365, every page I was looking at was a bundle, my mistake.

April 20, 2015 | 02:12 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Yeah I had that problem too initially. They REALLY want you to bundle 365.

April 20, 2015 | 09:40 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

how does this stack up vs HPs 199.00 stream?

April 20, 2015 | 10:17 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

The Stream 11 has the same 1366x768 screen resolution and 32GB eMMC storage, but has a faster processor @ 2.16 GHz - though only a dual-core CPU (X205TA is quad-core Atom). Both machines offer 2GB of RAM.

One interesting difference is OS edition, as the Stream's Windows 8.1 with Bing is 64-bit (X205TA is 32-bit).

The Stream 11 is pretty compelling at $199 since it has a year of Office 365 bundled at that price. I suspect the battery life would be a little shorter with the Stream given the more power hungry Celeron CPU in the HP.

April 21, 2015 | 02:05 AM - Posted by dragosmp (not verified)

On a side note, I think the 32 bit may be a good idea on the 205TA due to the 2GB of RAM and availability of connected standby only on X86

April 21, 2015 | 06:00 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

HM would have thought the atom would have out powered the celeron by a little bit.

November 29, 2015 | 10:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

it is 169.99 on newegg right now, and for only a short time (black friday weekend). get it now if u plan to.

April 20, 2015 | 01:34 PM - Posted by Chuck (not verified)

I first noticed this laptop around Christmas time as it was the subject of a couple of crazy specials, an Amazon for around 100 dollars, Staples black Friday for 89, and Best Buy for 129 and 149 dollars.

I snagged one at Best Buy for 149 and tried it out for a week but I found it a smidge too slow for regular use.

Writer is right, a couple of upgrades in proc, memory and HD speed would do wonders for this otherwise nice form factor.

April 20, 2015 | 02:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No gigabit Ethernet, and only USB 2.0(2 ports). I would pay a little extra for USB 3.0, and have found some older model core i3 (New and On sale) based systems in the $200+ dollar price range. This will have to compete with a load of older unsold core i3 based systems sitting on the special clearance shelves, that offer much more value for the dollar. There are so many Intel last years i3 based SKUs on the bargain shelves that run circles around this netbook redux, that most buyers will go for the i3 based product, new and on sale, with USB 3.0, and gigabit Ethernet, and 500GB hard drive. It's what you are getting for the money that makes this product unattractive.

Intel really has a problem with competing with itself on this one, and they don't even list the graphics version number for this SKU on the Intel ARK website quick reference specifications.

I'll gladly spend the $250 and get a core i3 last years model, that most definitely has this beat on performance.

April 20, 2015 | 02:23 PM - Posted by dragosmp (not verified)

Great review, I was waiting for this sorry of review for a while. I to am looking to buy a 2-400$ notebook and the 205TA seemed one of the options along with its transformer siblings. I agree 100% on what is important on such a PC and I too think the 305 is desirable if a bit overkill. Back to the 205TA, a shame about the screen. Any idea how it would compare to a 1000HE? That Eee PC has poor viewing angles and poor calibration, but somehiw it looks acceptable even compared to an IPS in my view.

April 20, 2015 | 02:30 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I would say if you found the screen on the 1000HE acceptable then you'd probably be just fine with the X205. I was being really hard on the display quality, but I'm persoanlly very critical of poor color. It's certainly an improvement on any 1024x600 netbook screen I ever saw.

April 21, 2015 | 02:18 AM - Posted by dragosmp (not verified)

Ideally the screen would be as you say around a 720p IPS, but for 200$ it's not possible. Quite a few people would pay 100 more for a good screen and 100 more for a 256GB mSATA SSD, I just hope Asus (because honestly who else) would have the courage to release a 400$ good ultraportable that would probably undercut their 305 and be at the same price as more BestBuy appealing 14 inchers costing about the same.

April 20, 2015 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Could you report on performance with Word & a few tabs open in Chrome or FF? If it can handle that well / more or less enough it could be a really compelling option for students.

April 20, 2015 | 03:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

https://communities.intel.com/thread/63148

Intel 10.18.10.4176 driver for Bay Trail.

April 20, 2015 | 03:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does it use PWM to regulate brightness? I am trying to find a flicker-free notebook.

April 20, 2015 | 04:13 PM - Posted by Hashim K Barem (not verified)

can you upgrade with a 2.5" hard drive or a solid state drive?

April 20, 2015 | 05:05 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

2.5" drives are not supported, and I don't believe internal expansion is possible. There is a teardown of the X205TA here that shows the full internals: http://www.laptopultra.com/guide/asus-eeebook-x205ta-disassembly/

April 20, 2015 | 04:20 PM - Posted by Patrick3D (not verified)

I purchased an Asus X200CA last year, 1.5GHz Celeron, 4GB RAM, standard 2.5" HDD, touch screen, 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, full-size HDMI and VGA ports, SD reader, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and so on. Only cost $217 (on sale). Also, mine came with Win8.1 Standard (not Bing).

Since it wasn't using soldered in SSD memory, I replaced the HDD with a much larger SSD. It boots to login screen in 3 seconds and has a usable desktop within 5 seconds. Perfect machine for web access, 720P Youtube videos, and Kongregate games. It even runs Hearthstone fine on Low quality settings.

April 21, 2015 | 08:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"However, I’m happy to report that streaming HD video was smooth with the X205 using the latest version of Google Chrome and Adobe Flash Player."

Very misleading. Quite frankly, that is far too subjective to be considered an adequate review of its video capabilities. What videos did you test? What bit rates? What percentage of frames were dropped?

I have the EXACT same setup (Z3735, 2GB, 8.1) in two different devices and the best it can do is 720p YouTube at 30fps and Netflix 720p. While technically "HD", there is so much that it can NOT do. It drops frames on any 60fps content (including 720p60), any streaming 1080p content, Amazon Prime HD, and most Vimeo content.

April 21, 2015 | 09:11 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

It's not misleading if it's true, and selecting different videos (Vimeo channel, various recent music videos) resulted in smooth playback with no noted stuttering or dropped frames. I didn't change any of the default settings, as I wouldn't expect a typical user to do so.

All reviews are subjective to some extent, and my approach to this was as more of an overview. It would have been a little over the top to do a full technical review replete with benchmark data for a $199 Atom-powered notebook. This product is meant for productivity and entertainment, and it worked just fine for both.

April 21, 2015 | 10:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't disagree regarding subjectivity, but the phrasing could be misconstrued. This chipset it not powerful enough to reliably playback all 720p/1080p video sources, especially popular game streams at 60fps. Typical users - especially budget users that can't afford more elaborate systems - should be aware of the limitations and not lulled into assuming it will work in common situations based upon a limited subset of un-sourced videos.

April 21, 2015 | 01:06 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Fair enough. I agree that I should have mentioned the source - namely the items on top of the Vimeo chart on YouTube - so I can update that. I didn't attempt any high bitrate video, and I have no doubt that it can't handle 60 FPS at HD res. I would stick to the default 720/30 out there, and I will clarify that.

April 21, 2015 | 02:12 PM - Posted by Mark M. (not verified)

I bought one of these last year when Staples had them as a Thanksgiving Day doorbuster for $99.00. So, after about six months of use, here's my opinion:

If you need a small, lightweight budget laptop for occasional use, or to use primarily for office applications/email/light web browsing, this is just fine. If you want something for gaming and watching videos, spend more money on something more powerful and with a better screen.

It's a bit slow. That translates into a noticeable pause when launching web browsers, opening new tabs, or saving a document. It is impressively lightweight, so it's great for taking with you when you travel or have meetings.

I haven't bothered with Office 365. Instead I have Libre Office running off portable apps on a tiny thumb drive. I've got a 64GB micro-sd card for additional storage. I use this pc for note-taking and document writing at meetings, and for that it is first rate. I'd pay $150 or under for it; if it's priced higher, wait, because it seems to regularly go on sale for about $150, and once you cross that price point, you might want to consider a Chromebook or even a small tablet/bluetooth keyboard combo.

April 22, 2015 | 03:48 AM - Posted by Cataclysm_ZA

I don't see any battery life numbers anywhere?

April 22, 2015 | 08:21 AM - Posted by Mark M. (not verified)

Battery life is up to eleven hours, depending on performance settings and what you're doing with it. I can attest that it has truly impressive battery life. I've been in very lengthy meetings where everyone else has eventually had to plug in their laptops while my X205 still has hours of life left in its battery.

April 22, 2015 | 10:02 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Sorry, that was a big oversight. I will add in numbers from our battery test.

April 23, 2015 | 07:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why cant anyone of these companies make a 15-17" IPS screen laptop with the worst possible current 2core cpu inside?

Oh, right, that would go against the criminal market segmentation they have going on now... where you have to pay upwards of 1000$ for all kinds of components you dont need, just to get IPS screen.

April 23, 2015 | 09:45 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I like this idea. Why not offer a $299 laptop similar to this one with an IPS display, but take it a step further and offer it in 11, 13, (and possibly 15)-inch sizes - for the same price?! We wouldn't get really high screen resolution, but I wouldn't expect that for $299 anyway.

April 26, 2015 | 01:42 PM - Posted by Israel (not verified)

Ive read your article a few times now and im really interested but there is a 14" dell laptop thats also $200 and it looks really good too.Take a look. To me it seems better than the asus one but im not sure.

http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-14-3451-laptop/pd?oc=fncwf003s&model_i...

April 28, 2015 | 08:47 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Thanks for reading! I looked at the Dell you linked to, and while the price is right I don't like the sounds of it from the specs. The advantage seems to be in total storage (it has a 500GB hard drive), nothing else exceptional though it sounds really bulky at nearly 4 lbs. The 14" screen is still only 1366x768... Overall I'd love to see something better than the X205TA for the same price (for a Windows laptop), but I haven't encountered it yet.

May 28, 2015 | 07:19 AM - Posted by Voddo (not verified)

Thanks for your review! I'm reading a lot of review about this x205. I care just to view movies in HD, 1080p files without problems. I had a 1015p with nvidia ion2 and it was really good with HD movies. Can I have some problems with this x205?

And about storage, can I install a 128gb SD?

July 1, 2016 | 12:33 PM - Posted by aston (not verified)

i wanted to know if i can play games on it and right now i have dell inspiron.1525 so please compare my laptop with this one and tell me which is better

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