|Screen Size||12.1 inches|
|Screen Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Max Screen Resolution||1336 x 768 pixels|
|Processor||1.8 GHz Intel Atom|
|RAM||2 GB DDR3|
|Hard Drive||250 GB|
|Graphics Coprocessor||NVIDIA Ion 2|
|Wireless Type||802.11 B/G, 802.11bgn, 802.11B|
|Number of USB 2.0 Ports||3|
|Average Battery Life (in hours)||6 hours|
ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1215N-PU17-BK 12.1-Inch Netbook with 6 Hours of Battery Life - Black
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12.1"/1366x768 (WXGA)/Intel Dual Core ATOM D525 CPU/2GB DDR2/NVIDIA ION2/250GB HDD/No ODD/Windows 7 Home Premium/802.11 bgn/10/100 LAN/0.3M Pixel/HDMI out/57W/h battery (up to 6 Hrs)/Included: +500GB Internet Storage/1 Year Global Warranty, (6 months for battery)/Black
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In a word, YES! The major gripe about the 1201N was of course the limited battery life, approximately 3.5 hours on average. Even though I primarily used my 1201N near an electrical outlet, there were times when I had to go portable with it, and the short battery life was painfully insufficient. Asus has upgraded both the processor and the graphics technology for the 1215N. The processor is the desktop grade Intel D525 1.8 GHz dual-core processor, a step-up from the dual core Atom 330s powering the initial 1201N. While I would've liked to see Intel's new N550 dual core Atom processors on the 1215N instead, the D525s are more than sufficient. I suspect that Asus will release their next version of the 12XXN series with some sort of new lower power dual core processor and graphics technology.
Note, the N550 processors are a new generation of 1.5 GHz low power dual core processors, and suffice it to say, the days of single core N450 type processors are quickly disappearing. Asus has announced a 1215P netbook, which is equipped with the N550 but NO Nvidia ION2 technology, and relies solely on Intel's GMA3150 integrated graphics solution, which is increasingly antiquated when used as a standalone. The 1215P is intended as an upgraded to the previously poorly received 1201PN, and while it will have an improved battery life, it will have difficulty handling games and high definition 1080P media.
CPU wise, the general variety of the dual core powered netbooks on the market presently are as follows; D525, N550, AMD Athlon II Neo K325.
Base on clockspeed only, the general order of CPU ranking is as follows;
D525 > N550 > K325
The Athlon IIs are powerful adversaries, but according to other online reviews, suffer from poor battery life, on par with that of the original 1201N, ~ 3.5 hours. Such Athlon II Neo equipped platforms include the 11.6" Dell Inspiron M101z (K325) and the Acer Aspire One (K125). But a Dell M101z with Neo K325, 4GB of RAM, and 320 GB HDD will cost you $579; $100 more than the 1215N, and with its poor battery performance, is really just a faster 1201N.
The N550s are found on platforms such as the HP Mini 5103 and are good low power competitors to the D525s, but are crippled because they appear to be bundled with the Intel GMA 3150s. A comparably optioned Mini 5103 and Crystal Broadcom HD Chip will likely run into the $500-$600 range. And the Mini 5103 only has a 10.1" screen.
Where does that leave the D525 then? While the desktop/nettop chip is quite powerful, Intel has intentionally embedded some features which limit the maximum potential of the 1215N. The D525's embedded memory controller limits usable RAM to 2.8 GB, meaning that it is probably NOT advisable to purchase the 4 GB version of the 1215N. The RAM runs in single channel mode only, and the D525 is limited to 32-bit addressing, which may render installation of 64-bit Windows 7 moot. However, don't let these nitpicks drag you down; they are limitations you might want to consider if you're extremely critical about your netbook, but for the average user like myself, they don't bother me, since I'm not interested in using the 1215N as a 64 bit powerhouse.
Asus has paired the D525s with the Nvidia Ion 2 graphics solution, which gives the 1215N comparable battery performance to the lower power N550 matched with integrated solutions, an incredible feat. The Ion 2 used in the 1215N comprises the G210 GPU with integrated GMA3150, and when combined with Nvidia's Optimus switching technology, allows use of the G210 for intensive gaming sessions, while using the low power GMA 3150 for more mundane tasks. The result is a battery life nearly double that of the 1201N. The Ion2 uses all 16 cores of the GT2XX chip and is clocked at 475 MHz. The original Nvidia Ion is comparable to a 9400M, and the Ion 2 is roughly 60% faster than the Ion. However, there is a potential bottleneck, again due to intentional limitations from Intel. The Ion 2's potential is hindered by Intel refusing to share its DMI interface with Nvidia, forcing the Ion 2 to operate on the PCI-e 1x lane, where it cannot operate at full bandwidth. Again, like the caveats with the D525s, this is a limitation you might want to consider if you're extremely critical about your netbook, but for the average user like myself, they don't bother me and the effects aren't noticeable. Make sure you use the latest Nvidia drivers, otherwise the Optimus switching may not turn on correctly.
Enough about the history and theoretical considerations of the 1215N. How does the 1215N look, operate, and compare to the 1201N?
INITIAL THOUGHTS/DIFFERENCES WITH 1201N: The biggest and most welcome change from the 1201N is the new matte top lid. This helps tremendously in preventing your netbook from becoming a fingerprint magnet. The black matte lid still acquires some fingerprints, and I'd recommend the silver color as the way to go. Amazon does not appear to sell the brown and red colored variations at this time, and I assume those also have a matte finish. The wrist rest has a semi-glossy appearance, and picks up some grease, albeit much less than the 1201N. The SD card reader has been moved from the right side (1201N) to the left side (1215N).
The keyboard appears to have the same layout as the 1201N; some users complained of keyboard flexing, but I didn't notice any flexing. In fact, it seems to have much less flex than the 1201N and seems quite rigid. The 1215N's keyboard is a pure chiclet style; whereas the 1201N's keyboard was contained in a plastic well, the 1215N's keys are raised above the base surface of the netbook. This does not appear to cause any functional differences, but the visual difference is apparent when compared with the 1201N. The 1215N also features a sturdier power button, which feels of higher quality.
The trackpad is no longer dimpled, and this makes the mouse cursor significantly easier to move around. The same one-bar button selector is used (as found on the 1201N, which I actually liked), but the one-bar could've benefited from a matte finish as it picks up fingerprints easily. I strongly prefer the new trackpad on 1215N; navigation is significantly easier now.
The hard drive is only a 5400 rpm spec model, but I found it to be as quiet as the one on the 1201N.
Lastly, the web-camera has a shutter that protects it when not in use; the resolution is the same as that of the 1201N.
I was disappointed to find that the package did not come with a Windows 7 Home Premium installation CD. Didn't I pay for the CD?!
BLOATWARE: Unfortunately, like the 1201N, the 1215N also comes pre-installed with a lot of bloatware. It seems a bunch of random wireless card software programs are installed, even though some of those wireless cards aren't even installed into the machine! The bloatware is easy enough to remove though; just remove them under the remove programs tab in Control Panel.
GRAPHICAL PERFORMANCE: I tested the 1215N against my 1201N. I achieved a 3DMark06 benchmark score of 1583 (CPU Score 811) on my stock 1201N. By comparison, 3DMark06 on the 1215N achieve a score 1100 points higher, 2692! Playing a 1080P media file on the 1201N using the CoreAVC codec required 60% CPU utilization. Playing the same 1080P media file on the 1215N using the CoreAVC 2.0 codec required just 16-20% CPU utilization!!
BATTERY LIFE: So far, I'm eking out around 5-6 hours of battery life on light to moderate usage.
GAMING: I haven't had a chance yet to extensively test gaming capabilities of the 1215N, but from what I've read, the 1215N can handle the following games;
Starcraft 2 @ 15-20 fps, 1280 x 720 pixels, medium settings (various youtube videos confirming this)
FIFA 2010 @ 20 fps, lowest resolution and details
Call of Duty: Modern Wafare 2 @ 30 fps, provided there aren't a lot of scripted scenes/characters.
World of Warcraft @ 45 fps, 1366 x 768 pixels, low details
Left 4 Dead @ 20 fps, 1366 x 768 pixels, low details
Half-Life Episode 2 @ 28 fps, 1280 x 720 pixels
Also, bear in mind that since the Ion 2 is relatively new, not many games are supported yet. Make sure the drivers are up-to-date. If you overclock the 1215N, assuming it is overclockable, then higher framerates and performance may be possible. Note, I am not suggesting or advising anyone to overclock their machine.
- Great performance for the price
- Ion 2 battery saving graphics
- Fast processors
- 12.1" size with 1366 x 768 resolution
- Solid build quality
- New matte lids minimize fingerprint collection
- Comes with Windows Home Premium (rather than Windows Starter)
- 2.8 GB usable RAM limit
- RAM runs in single channel mode only.
- No USB 3.0 capability on US models for now (though this doesn't bother me since I don't have any USB 3.0 devices anyway, and by the time 3.0 devices become mainstream, Asus will have released another netbook by then).
- No Bluetooth (though this doesn't bother me since I don't use BT with my netbooks, and Asus Bluetooth may yet be still installed)
- No Windows 7 CD?!
- Pre-installed bloatware
Conclusion: At this price-point of sub-$500 ($484 presently on Amazon), Asus has provided a very capable netbook that performs admirably and is a worthy successor to the original 1201N. Why pay $300 more for an ugly looking Alienware M11X with hinge problems?
**UPDATE**; it's been over a year since I wrote this review, and I'm happy to say that the 1215N and I are still going strong. It's perfectly sized for portability, and yet the full-sized keyboard allows me to type easily during meetings and lectures. I've had envious colleagues ask me what model laptop I was using, as they lugged around their heavier 13"+ sized laptops. Knock on wood, haven't had a single problem or hiccup.
Now, there were a few ultraportable laptops that were better suited for playing the latest games, but they were either a few hundred dollars more than the ASUS 1215N, weighed a few more pounds, had less battery life, and/or had a smaller screen. What I really liked about the ASUS 1215N (besides the price I got it for ;) ) was that it had a large screen compared to the other netbooks, it still weighed less than the ultraportable laptops, and has a better CPU and GPU than most of the other netbooks that are similarly priced.
Now for the Cons, starting with what scares me the most:
The horrible power plug design. There is a small pin in the power port that can easily break off and render your netbook useless due to not being able to charge it. This is a huge turn off and my heart goes out to all those people who had this happen to them and had to take advantage of the warranty, but had to deal with the bad customer service at ASUS and the ~1 month wait to get their laptop repaired and shipped back for them. Just remember, you have to pay for the shipping when sending your broken netbook back to ASUS to get it repaired. I have no idea why ASUS just didn't fix the poor power plug design by implementing the standard power plug design that other laptops and netbooks use that don't share this problem!
Intel put a lot of limitations on the ASUS 1215N netbook that didn't have to be there, but they did it because they're greedy. Intel makes higher profit margins when consumers purchase the more expensive laptops rather than the cheaper netbooks. So because of this, Intel refused to share the DMI interface with the Nvidia's Ion 2 GPU, forcing the Ion 2 to operate on the PCI-e 1x lane. Not only that but, the 64-bit Intel Atom D525 CPU is only capable of 32-bit addressing. So forget about installing Windows 7 64-bit due to the 32-bit addressing making that pointless. Oh yeah, the RAM runs in single channel mode only. And if you do decide to buy more RAM, there are countless posts where the RAM people are buying is not compatible with the ASUS 1215N (even though it may have worked for someone else) so the netbook is extremely finicky. If you do get the netbook to boot up with the new RAM, you will only see ~2.74GB of RAM in Windows due to the limitations of 32-bit.
Others mention there is some flex in the center of the keyboard and that the mouse button on the netbook is not that great. I'm not too worried about the mouse because I purchased a Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse and also got a Logitech V220 Cordless Optical Mouse for free at the time of purchase. I also went with the larger Case Logic Slimline Case 12.1" (10.6" - 13.3") to store my netbook in.
One thing I would recommend if you are going to purchase this netbook is to also purchase a Transcend 16GB Class 10 SDHC Card (TS16GSDHC10) and leave that in your netbook's SDHC flash card slot and configure it for ReadyBoost. It's not that expensive, one of the fastest / best SDHC Cards for that price, and you may notice a performance increase due to the memory limitations on this netbook (a few more FPS in games).
Don't expect this netbook to have great performance in the latest games or to play these games at high settings due to the limitations I listed, but for what I will be using this netbook for and for the majority of games I play, I can see myself being very satisfied and happy with this purchase. Especially since I got it on sale. ;)
Oh yeah, I didn't forget about the no USB 3.0 capability, no BlueTooth, or the 0.3 megapixel cam. I'll admit, BlueTooth would've been nice, but I guess I can live without that. The cheap cam doesn't matter to me (I do like the security lens cover though) and the USB 3.0 is not a big deal for me at this moment. There's a lot of things this netbook should have, but we do not live in a perfect world. Hopefully in the next version of this netbook, they will address some of these issues. My greatest concern is the poor power plug design and Intel's imposed limitations due to their greed.
*** UPDATE 12/13/2010 ***
I have some very exciting news! Win7 on my ASUS 1215N Netbook is now showing 2.74GB of usable memory from the 3GB of RAM I just installed! Why spend more money on two 2GB sticks when one 2GB stick will suffice while saving money and still attaining the same results? I was on the phone with Crucial customer service telling the rep. exactly what I wanted, and not only was the customer service excellent at Crucial, but I got a part that works for my finicky 1215N! Here's the million dollar answer, Enjoy!
Crucial Part # CT25664BC1339
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