Sabtu, 29 Mei 2010

T91MT vs T101MT - Hands on Review

Earlier this month I talked about why I feel Asus's T91MT is a better computer than Apple's iPad. What I failed to mention in that posting is that in addition to the T91MT Asus also has a T101MT netbook/tablet hybrid. If you are in the market for a tiny tablet computer you might be like I was, torn between which of these two netbooks to buy - they are fairly close in price! After having owned both a T91MT and the T101MT I have put together the following compare and contrast of the two tablets that will hopefully help you decided which of the two to purchase.
Size and Weight -
Lets start with the obvious - how big these devices are. The average consumer will first notice that the T91MT is an 8.9" tablet that weights in at 2.1 pounds while the T101MT is 10.1" that weights in at 2.86 pounds. Which of these is better? Its a personal choice really.

Keyboard -
The T91MT has a flat key board while the T101MT has a chiclet keyboard (some space inbetween the keys). Coming from my old EEE 900A model/normal laptop the chiclet keyboard took some getting used to, but after a few days I was typing away on it with no issues. The image below is the T91MT keyboard on the left and the T101MT keyboard on the right:

Track Pad -
The track back on both the devices is essentially the same. Same look and feel, same silver mouse button. Neither supports multi-touch on the track pad and both support scrolling on the right side.

Screen Resolution/Design/Finish -
Both the netbooks contain the fairly standard 1024x600 resolution netbook panel. Both panels fully support multi-touch. For some reason though the touch layer is much more noticeable on the T101MT than it is on the T91MT. If you look at the screen from the wrong angle the contents appear blurry almost. Another thing you will notice right away between the two laptops is that the T91MT has a shiny finish on the back of it's screen - meaning it is a giant finger print magnet. The T101MT has a matted finish that tends to stay much cleaner.

Lastly the hinge on the T101MT is much smoother than the one on the T91MT. When closing the T101MT (or putting it in tablet mode) it has rubber stoppers that are designed to slip into slits cut into the screen so the keyboard part does not rotate out form under the screen while you are moving the device around. This was a much needed design additive as it always annoyed me that the T91MT screen does not sit straight on when the device is closed.

Processor -
The processors in these two devices are very, very different. The T91MT uses a Z series 520 chip that is clocked at 1.33ghz, while the T101MT sports an N series 450 chip that runs at 1.66ghz. Both chips have hyper-threading technology and of the two only the Z520 supports virtulization (just in case you wanted to run a virtual machine on your netbook). The extra speed of the N450 is decent noticeable. It is much "snappier" when multi-tasking than it's Z520 cousin.

Both tablets come with 1gig of DDR2 memory and are upgradable to 2gigs. The only thing worth noting here is that the T91MT has a 1gig stick that you have to replace with a single 2gig stick in order to upgrade it's memory. The T101MT on the other hand has it's default 1gig of memory soldiered to it's mother board - meaning in order to upgrade it's memory you need to purchase a 1gig stick.

Hard Drive -
The T91MT comes stock with a 32gig SSD while the T101MT comes with a 160gig 5400rpm standard laptop drive. The T91MT hard drive uses a PCI mini port to connect - meaning if you want to change the drive in it you are somewhat limited on selection. The T101MT on the other hand uses your standard 2.5" sata hard drive connector so you can drop any mobile drive in it (personally I ordered an SSD with my T101MT, I feel a normal hard drive is just a bad idea in a netbook).

Webcam -
Both the netbooks come with very sad .3 mega-pixel cameras. Good enough to make a video call over Skype, but not a quality image by any means.

Graphics Card -
The T91MT comes with the Intel GMA500 graphics card while the T101MT has the more standard Intel GMA3150 graphics controller. An important thing to note here is that while the GMA500 is a physically faster graphics card, the drivers for it are decently horrid on all platforms (although they are the best under Windows 7). The GMA500 should do 720p video playback however do not expect it to be 100% smooth if this is what you want to play on the device. The driver issue with the GMA500 is largely due to the fact that Intel doesn't actually make the GMA500 chip, they just stamp their name on it.

Operating System -
The T91MT ships by default with Windows 7 Home Premium while the T101MT ships with Windows 7 Starter. Not a big deal right? Actually it is. Windows 7 Starter does not support multi-touch functionality regardless of your hardware. Meaning if you want multi-touch on the T101MT you will need to upgrade/change the Windows version installed on it. Both of the netbooks run Ubuntu quite well with a small bit of hacking (and have multi-touch with kernel > 2.6.33). If you are going to keep Windows 7 on the tablet however, do yourself a favor and make sure to upgrade the RAM to 2gigs.

Bluetooth -
The T91MT has a built in bluetooth controller while the T101MT does not. So if you are needing bluetooth on the larger tablet be sure to pickup a USB bluetooth adapter.

Battery -
The T91MT claims "up to 5 hours" and the T101MT claims "up to 6.5 hours". Off a full charge while streaming audio over the speakers from Pandora the T91MT gets just over three hours and the T101MT gets just under four hours. The T101MT has has a removable battery while the T91MT does not, personally I really like having a removable battery so I can carry a spare.

Follow Up -
I ended up keeping the T101MT and selling the T91MT to a friend. The two main deciding factors for me in this decision was the battery life and graphics card (the GMA500 is a giant pain under Linux). Which of these two tablet is right for you? How would I know! Hopefully if you have been trying to decide between the two of them this article helped you decide on one or the other.

~Jeff Hoogland

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