10 reasons not to buy the Asus Eee PC 2G Surf

The entry-level Asus Eee PC is the 2G Surf, a $299 mini notebook that many assume differs from its more expensive siblings in little more than storage capacity.


A quick look at the official specs chart appears to confirm that the 2G Surf is identical to its brethren in every way except that the 4G Surf has a 4GB flash drive; the 4G has a 4GB flash drive, webcam, and longer battery life; and the 8G has all of that plus a bigger SSD (8GB) and more RAM (1GB). Great! Buying the 2G Surf will save those who don’t need the extra storage $50 and those who also don’t need the webcam and extra runtime $100 with no additional sacrifice.

That’s what the official product page would lead consumers to believe, anyway. The truth is that the Eee PC 2G Surf is so compromised that at its current price, it’s not worth buying at all.

Before I explain why the 2G Surf should be avoided, here’s a screen capture (click to enlarge) of the published specs:


Although some may argue that it’s the buyer’s responsibility to fully research a product before purchasing it, mainstream consumers shouldn’t be faulted for trusting a comparison chart listed on a company website.


Side note: I knew the chart glossed over key differences between the systems when I got my 2G Surf last week, but I didn’t care. As mentioned in my unboxing, I chose this model because it was the only one available in pink at the time (pink 4Gir?t=pocketables 20&l=ur2&o=1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here has since been released).

Reason 1: Performance

Unlike the other three models in the Eee PC series, which house 900MHz Intel Celeron M processors underclocked to 633MHz, the 2G Surf has an 800MHz CPU underclocked to run at 571MHz. And whereas its beefier siblings have L2 caches of 512KB, it has only an L1 cache of 32KB. Not surprisingly, then, the 2G Surf’s performance suffers. And coming from someone like me, who has no technical expertise and is not a power user of anything, that says a lot.

The 2G Surf is sometimes so slow to respond to simple commands that I often think the system has crashed. Sometimes I end up with multiple Firefox sessions open because I’ve clicked on the Web icon several times, assuming my taps weren’t being registered. A lag is noticeable even when doing light tasks like changing a setting or increasing the volume.

Reason 2: Available storage

The SD card slot makes this somewhat of a non-issue, but it’s worth noting that of the stated 2GB flash drive soldered into the 2G Surf, only about 360MB is free out of the box.


Granted, those who buy this model already knowingly commit to having the least amount of storage in the Eee PC lineup available to them. But considering that the 4G Surf and 4G models have 1.4GB of their 4GB SSDs free, new 2G Surf owners may expect 700MB free on a 2GB drive.

Reason 3: Fewer applications

In addition to having less available space than expected, the 2G Surf also has fewer applications than its siblings.


Missing from the device are the following:

  • eBook and World Clock (Internet tab)
  • Mail and Notes (Work tab)
  • Science (Learn tab)
  • Sound Recorder, Webcam, Sudoku, Crack Attack, and LTris (Play tab)
  • Voice Command (Settings tab)

Reason 4: Soldered RAM

While owners of the Eee PC 4G, 4G Surf, and 8G crack open their mini notebooks to upgrade the socketed RAM (up to 2GB supported) and improve performance, 2G Surf users are stuck with the preinstalled 512MB module, which is soldered to the motherboard.

Reason 5: Battery life

Both the 2G Surf and 4G Surf models ship with a 4400mAh li-ion battery with a runtime estimate of 2.8 hours. This is clearly stated in the official specs (so buyers know beforehand what they’re getting), but it still deserves a spot on this list because 2.8 hours isn’t good. Battery life is closer to 2 to 2.5 hours in real-world use, which was the widely criticized number achieved by all first-generation UMPCs. Yes, UMPCs were several times more expensive than even the high-end Eee PC, but 2.5 hours on a mobile device is still just 2.5 hours on a mobile device.

The 4G and 8G have higher-capacity batteries capable of about 3.5 hours of operation.

Reason 6: Space bar

I assume this is true of the other models as well, but since I only have the 2G Surf in my hands, I’ll just say that on my unit, the space bar on the keyboard is terrible.


Nearly an inch (half-inch on each side) of the three-inch space bar is completely unresponsive. Though not impossible to work around, making a conscious effort to press only the middle of the space bar negatively affects initial typing speed. And what’s the point of the key being three inches long if only two inches actually do anything?

Reason 7: Touchpad responsiveness

The touchpad sensitivity can be customized, but I still find its tapping responsiveness and consistency questionable (even when "Enable faster tapping" is checked and "Tapping time" is set to "Short" in the touchpad settings menu). This may just be a performance issue, but sometimes a forceful double-tap is required where a light single-tap has previously sufficed. Constantly having to re-tap particularly impedes enjoyable use of the 2G Surf when browsing the web.

Those who use the touchpad solely for navigation and scrolling should encounter no problems.

Reason 8: Mouse buttons

Housed beneath the single strip of silver plastic below the touchpad are the left and right mouse buttons.


They work as they should, but they’re harder to press and louder than any other set of buttons I’ve ever encountered on a full-size or mini notebook. The 2G Surf’s buttons (and presumably those of the other models as well) require a very deliberate, definitive click; unlike on standard laptops or devices with similar buttons, they don’t register from light taps.

Reason 9: Boot time

Asus never claimed that the Eee PC was an instant-on device (it’s not), but the unit’s quick boot-up has been trumpeted as one of its achievements. The 2G Surf does turn on much faster than a traditional Windows XP system, but it’s not that fast. Not including the time it takes to connect to a network and actually launch Firefox, my factory-fresh 2G Surf takes 9 seconds to awaken from standby and about 34 seconds to cold boot.


In comparison (and yes, I know this is unfair), my unoptimized Vaio TZ running Vista Business takes just 8 seconds to awaken from standby, connect to my home network, and launch Firefox. My own cold boot is atrocious, but a Pocketables reader is cold booting his heavily tweaked TZ in 38 seconds.

Again, I know that comparing the $300 2G Surf to a $2500+ Vaio TZ is absurd. But since many people cite fast boot times as a compelling reason to purchase the 2G Surf over a more capable (and yes, more expensive) device, I wanted to illustrate that while they are good, the 2G Surf’s boot times don’t necessarily live up to the hype (and not just when compared to the TZ).

Reason 10: Price

For a fully functioning ultraportable computer capable of running Windows XP and a host of other standard applications, the Eee PC 2G Surf’s asking price of $299 sounds incredibly reasonable, especially when compared to other similarly sized UMPCs and handtops. However, when taking everything listed above into account and considering the cost of the higher Eee PC models, it’s actually overpriced.

Based on the specs chart, the $50 separation between the 2G Surf and the 4G Surf seems like a fine deal because the only difference appears to be a 2GB and 4GB flash drive. Uninformed consumers are unaware that an extra $50 would get them not just more storage capacity, but better performance by way of a faster processor, upgradeable RAM, and more preinstalled applications. An extra $100 would get them all of that plus a webcam and better battery life.


For what it is, then, the 2G Surf should’ve been priced at around $199. That’s how much it was supposed to have been in the first place.

If you want an Asus Eee PC, buy the 4G Surf ($349)ir?t=pocketables 20&l=ur2&o=1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here, 4G ($399)ir?t=pocketables 20&l=ur2&o=1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here, or 8G ($499) models instead.

Update 2.24.08: Returning the Asus Eee PC 2G Surf

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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41 thoughts on “10 reasons not to buy the Asus Eee PC 2G Surf

  • Avatar of Bush -- not related

    Damn, Jenn, I am sorry to hear there is SUCH a difference ‘tween the two models. I kept looking at the Surfs but the diminished battery life and soldered ram turned me off, although when people began reporting receiving surfs (surfum, surfii?) with the larger batteries, my interest resumed.

    I can’t believe they’d put a lesser keyboard in, so I have to assume your particular spacebar is defective as mine does not reflect the issue you described (though I well understand the issue, it’s what made typing on my pop-out Belkin a nightmare) — perhaps a return is warranted? For that matter, if the specs are SO different AND not well-marked on their site, perhaps a return of the entire device is warranted?

    Again, my sorrows that you cannot share my delight with this little and inexpensive device.

  • Howdy Jen,
    I agree that the low end surf models are not as good of a value. I went with a 4G/Black and it boots in about 30-40 seconds with Ubuntu 7.10.
    The soldered RAM is ridiculous, I put in a 2GB A-data from newegg in for 35 bucks and that really helps it when I have many apps open. I have never gotten it over 1GB in use but I also have a tmpfs mount that can get pretty large.
    Funny thing is I like the trackpad and keyboard on this (eee) a lot more than the thumbstick and keyboard on the Fujitsu U810 (I disable touchpad tapping).
    While I love the resolution of the U810 (1024×600) over the eee (800×480) that downside can be minimized with creative font control and multiple workspaces.
    I also loaded Ubuntu on the U810. But getting all the specialized buttons working like the Fn, the headlights and all the controls in tablet mode proved unreliable. So I restored Vista back on it.
    Being a linux/Mac guy, the eee now gets more use and tinkering.


    Making a long story longer since 1976

  • After reading other users’ concerns about their keyboards, I thought it was just a “you get what you pay for” sort of thing. I knew it wasn’t a widespread issue, as there are way too many elated Eee users out there, but I figured it was hit-and-miss.

    Even though I didn’t really want to the Eee to begin with and knew of most of the 2G Surf’s limitations beforehand, I’m still disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m returning it tomorrow.

  • Avatar of turn_self_off

    got to say that i have never understood the utility of pad taps to emulate mouse clicks. but then i have never really attempted to fine tune the sensitivity of a pad so that i can move from one corner to the next without having to lift my finger of the pad (why they dont come like that from the factory i cant figure out).

  • Avatar of Bush -- not related

    As a MacBook owner, I gotta tell you that tapping the pad (and two-fingered tapping to right-click) is astonishingly obvious and you wonder why it took so long to catch on (or why they bother putting physical buttons on, still). It’s about the only thing I resent when I switch to the eee (or non-tap-enabled trackpads) — the lack of any/decent pad-tapping (or the 2-fingered tap on non-macs).

  • Avatar of turn_self_off

    well my experience on windows laptops are that i often find myself tapping when all i really am doing is lifting my finger so to keep moving the mouse. but as i said, the reason for that can be that it seems no windows laptops have their pads calibrated so that you can drag the mouse from corner to corner without lifting your finger, and its simpler to just uncheck the tap action then it is to tweak the sensitivity…

  • Avatar of LS650

    I considered buying a 4G Surf, but found that the 2G meets all my needs just fine.
    I’m sorry to hear the 2G wasn’t satisfactory for you.

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  • Avatar of Eddie Cochran

    From looking the rest of this website, it seems to be full of useful, intelligent reviews, but the above piece of writing, seems to be just a case of sour grapes.

    You bought one of the cheapest laptops on the market “because it was pink”, decided it wasn’t to your tastes, and set about producing a list of “ten reasons I don’t want to like the EeePC”.

    You even state in your next part about returning the Eee, that “I wanted the mini notebook in spite of knowing about most of the 2G Surf’s shortcomings and having no space in my life for a 7-inch computer”

    Perhaps if you’d have researched the product a little more, you’d have found the extra cash (only $50) to get the 4G surf, or really splash out and get a 4G (I suspect however that we would only get a “10 reasons to buy the 8G instead” article)

    Oh and aparts from the whole propagandist agenda here, some of your arguments are a bit flawed, and don’t hold up to closer inspection at all well.

    Cheer up though, you’ll probably get most of your money back through ebay on the Eee, to buy something else you don’t want “because its pink”.

  • Eddie (Johnnie) Cochran,
    Thanks for your opinion. I appreciate that you have showed the other positive posting people here what it is to be obtuse and melodramatic.
    Jenn loves gadgets, and you are using the Chewbacca defense here like your namesake.
    What you really are doing is disguising a harmful personal attack on Jenn because you disagree with her findings. You also seem to fall under Gabe’s Internet Fwad Theory.
    Yes the 4G surf is 50 bucks more, and the 4G is even better than that for 400 dollars. She stated the 4G (in pink) came out after she wanted something cool for Valentines day and was stepping beyond the usual girlie card and candy or shudder (jewelry).

    Myself I love my EEE (4G, 2GB, 8/16GB SDHC, Ubuntu 7.10). But I respect the opinions of others, and let them not agree without getting hurt.
    So while girls do like pink and are free to not like things, Jenn is just telling it as she sees it, I do not see how any of it is propagandist. Thanks for not giving specifics and qualifying your assumptions. There are more than one side to anything, and some folks will dislike things exactly why you like them. No need to be mean about it.

    thax =)

  • I thought the point of the article was that if you want the Eee PC, don’t get the 2g surf. That’s what her last sentence says.

    So it’s obviously not 10 reasons Jenn doesn’t want to like it. It’s 10 reasons why you should spend the extra cash for the higher models.

    The 2g surf can suit someone’s needs perfectly (like someone said earlier) but Jen is just showing how it doesn’t fit HER needs and how it’s not all the specs make it out to be. I took it as a buyer beware sorta thing, which isn’t propaganda.

  • I have owned the black 4G ($399) and I just picked up the green 2G Surf. This is my 2 cents:

    1)The 4G is faster and no webcam.
    2)I have not found the battery life to be poor, just turn off Wi-Fi when not using it and turn down screen brightness.
    3)As long as you can deal with the “pokeyness”, I say the 2G surf is a great value for $100 less, I have no complaints and I own both.
    4)If you desperately want more apps, install advanced desktop mode and have at it :-)

  • I feel that although it probably was a bad idea for Jenn to pick the pink one because of its color, I’m glad she put an honest review of the 2G surf up. I just bought one because I have limited needs for my subnotebook and i wanted to spend as little as possible (and it was the only one that came in green ::wink::). I’ve seen so many positive reviews for the 2g surf, but those usually come from people who need it for little more than word processing and email. That’s good enough for me. Thanks for your honesty and willingness to give everyone the information you found.

  • Avatar of steve wants to buy a 4gb version laptop

    you forgot to mention the warranty, the 2gb warranty is 1 year, the 4gb is 2 years. so really, from all your arguments and the warranty difference, no body should ever buy the 2gb version

  • There’s some valid points in the article but the Boot time one doesn’t seem like a great point. You’re comparing an untweaked eeepc boot time to a “heavily tweaked TZ” and it still beats it for boot time. Maybe if you “heavily tweaked” your eeepc you’d get significantly better results. I know your point is that it’s not outstandingly fast but your comparisons are very very weak.

  • I think buying this stuff isn’t bad enough…

    I wish i could have this Asus Eee PC 900 too.

    So i can blog anywhere as long it’s a WIFI zone….


  • Avatar of slobodan

    u are just one big looser trying to be smart!

  • Avatar of Honest Spoony

    According to Intel’s Website regarding the L1 and L2 Cache of the Celeron M Asus eee PC 2G(800@571) and 4G(900@630) Processors (30030203.pdf,pg7), the L1 and L2 cache are IDENTICAL on these processors. 32k for L1 and 512k for L2.

    It’s obvious that these processors would be under-clocked for the sake of battery life, and that the amount under-clock is respective to the rated CPU speed. But in the larger scale, is 59MHz a big enough difference to make the unit seem to drag? The analysis of the 2G above may have fallen victim to a self fulfilling prophesy: If one were to compare a Ford Pinto to a Ford Mustang on paper, everyone will expect the Mustang to be faster on merit alone. (I have both cars, same year, same engine, and neither is faster, btw) The 2G may have been evaluated as Significantly slower due to this perception. Everyone falls victim to self-fulfilling prophecies on occasion, but as the author stated this was just her observation.

    I believe that for what it is, the whole line is a superb notion. It wasn’t designed to be a desktop replacement, just like taking notes in class doesn’t replace reading the text book.

    As a side note, there are linux modules (in ubuntu at least) that can put the processor speeds (800,900) where they are supposed to be and NOT under-clocked, though the effect on battery life was not noted.

    This review was helpful, as are all the other reviews that can be found about this line and others. But short of sitting each unit side-by-side, it’s nearly impossible to really see a difference. This applies to anything you compare, not just PCs

  • well, honestly, despite my gripe about the 2hour something battery life, i honestly enjoy my 2G surf, no hangs, no lags whatsoever! well, my sympathies for your dislike with the product.

  • Avatar of Jo Rivers

    I want to buy a webcam to use with my Eee PC 2G but can’t find if anything is compatible. Can anyone help please?

  • Hi Jo. Would you mind posting your question in the new Pocketables Forum instead? There’s a Mini Notebooks category there where your question would fit in perfectly. Someone there should be able to answer your question or least provide you with some good suggestions. Plus, if you join the forum now, you’ll be entered to win an MSI Wind netbook. Hope to see you there!

  • Informative post.
    I do hope I’m not disappointed with the 2g which I ordered and will receive in a couple days.

    I ordered the 2g because of price ($225, extreme bargain) and better performance than what it’s replacing (nokia n800).

    I’m not looking for a laptop replacement and not expecting it. But what I’m hoping to receive is more of a PDA replacement… to a certain extent. I’m hoping it’s huge 7″ screen will be better on my eyes than my nokia’s teeny 4″ screen. I’m hoping the blazing 800mhz processor will be faster than my nokia’s 400mhz one. I’m also hoping the 2.8hour battery time will exceed my nokia’s 1.9hour time.

    If all those areas are met, then I will feel that the $25 difference between what I sold the nokia for and what I paid for the asus 2g, will be money well spent.

    I’ll let you know after I’ve had it a week.

  • Hi Philip. Based on your needs, I think you’ll be pleased with the 2G Surf. Let me know how you get on with it in the forum, where others will be able to benefit from your thoughts as well.

  • Avatar of NewAsusFan

    Philip said he bought 2G Asus Surf for $225 — anyone know where to get a price like that?

  • hi,Jenn
    I’m a fifteen year old that is looking into getting a 2 gb for school work and i have limited money to spend. would you say its worth the money? and does it come with any word processing? I’m wondering would it be better to get this or just go without a computer period?

  • I am using the 2g model, when my sone go’s on http://www.webkinz.com and trys to go to the page allowing him to log in and then play games it appears the page is centered but you are missing all of the stuff on all 4 sides and you cant move the page around, is there any way to scale the page down so you can view all of the page?

  • Avatar of Henry

    I just bought 2gb surf for 200.00 and found this website. Garrrr. I wish I order 4gb model because I want to upgrade the RAM.

  • Avatar of eeepc2g User

    I just bought my eee pc 2g surf the other day I’m a little disappointed. I thought this was going to be just a little bit faster, not!

    It can’t even handle youtube videos and flash games without stuttering and freezing every half second.

    It’s great for BASIC web surfing, hence the name “surf”.

    I don’t require allot of power in my computers but I’d like just enough to surf you tube and play flash games and watch a few online movies.

    I’ll probably sell this thing and upgrade to a 4g, because I absolutely love how small and cute the eee pc is, this model just doesn’t cut it!

    Writing from my eee pc 2g surf,

    Anthony B.

  • Avatar of hejman

    slobotlan: at least she can spell. looser?

    jenn: i’m very sorry to hear the Surf didn’t work out for you, and i’m not going to flame you for the pink idea as a good half of your posters have. instead, i’ll tell you my own little story:

    I just bought the 2GB surf (pure white, if it matters) for my girlfriend. I just finished installing the eee version of Ubuntu 8.0.4 (? i think that’s the version) with the / directory on the sdd and the /usr directory on the SD card (8gb) i also bought for her. i left a gig of swap on the SD card, and it drastically improved performance, as well as the fact that she’ll hardly have to worry about using up all piss-poor 2 gigs of hard drive space, because almost all she does is IM, websurf, and word processing…. and a lot of minesweeper. So i guess outside all my blathering, the 2GB surf isn’t the greatest thing out there, but it’s also not the piece of crap for the money that you and a few others have made it out to be. I’m quite impressed, even if it could be a bit cheaper, or available in black on newegg at the same price. Thank you, however, for putting some time and rational thought into your opinions on this model, as opposed to just pissing and moaning about not liking it.

    and finally,
    Alyssa: Take a look at what i’ve posted, and give it a try. I actually recommend this laptop entirely for what you’d use it for. After tax, shipping, and an 8GB sd card on rush order, it came out to less than 300. and that’s saying something for a laptop. so if the net and word processing are all you’d use it for, it’s a great buy

    thanks all for putting up with my talkativeness today

  • Hi hejman. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad that you’ve been able to make it work out well for your girlfriend. And just to clarify, I don’t think the 2G Surf is a “piece of crap.” But based on the kind of differences between it and the 4G Surf, I think it’s not priced right. The original $50 price difference wasn’t just the difference between a 2GB SSD and 4GB SSD: it was also a slower processor, non-upgradeable RAM, and less preloaded applications. That’s a lot of compromise for just $50.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even notice I was being flamed! Comments like that don’t bother me, as they’re just a natural response to someone who has something less-than-positive to say about a product that others like. Most people tend to fixate on a single point and forget about the rest. They just latch onto what they disagree with, regardless of how much they agree with. Such is life!

    I’ve bought three full-fledged UMPCs (HTC Shift, Kohjinsha SC3, and Willcom D4) since returning the Surf, so I’m definitely not lacking for something fun and small to play with. :-)

  • Avatar of

    I think this laptop is great. its bag size perfect for teenagers and has lots of storage

  • So,
    You’re complaining about a computer that you bought solely because it is pink, and at the same time you’re saying that you know little to nothing about computers…but you’re still writing a tech blog. Makes sense to me.

  • Avatar of Pity

    My battery never lasted more than an hour, and after a week or so lasted more like 30 minutes, keyboard and mouse buttons poor, screen too small… not recommended really.

  • Avatar of passing through..

    Hello – read all the feedback. I’ve had a 2G for many months now and I have to agree with the comments in the article. I have a large screen compaq and mobile and wanted a portable computer to write on. Here is my experience – which was disappointing.

    – Cannot type well on 2G. My fingers fumble and I make errors and hit the tab button often on the left. (I type better on my mobile.) Keyboard sucks.

    – Slow to open ANY program.

    – Designed more for a child in terms of programs installed and functionality. Needs lots of Linux programming to make it adult usable, which is time consuming and doesn’t always work.

    – Touchpad is cheap and difficult to press.

    The applications and OS are stable and work well but the 2G model is too clunky in terms of user experience to meet even my simple needs of a portable writing device.

    I still have an (ancient : ) HP Jornado 690 (opens fast, works beautifully, types easily, has touch screen & stylus) and if I can get a cord that links it to my compaq from HP – I will use that instead and sell the 2G to someone with a preteen getting the first computer.

    Honestly, I’m now looking for a different model of micro computer. I would not go back to an eee pc at this point based on my personal needs and experience above.

  • Avatar of Alejandro Nova

    For the record, a friend of mine got one of these for US$ 130, back in 2008. Despite the limitations, I think US$ 130 is fair enough…

  • Not to buy?

    ASUS, a top brand manufacturer of laptop/notebook in the world.

    Then, you just simply comment “Not to buy?”

    I have this EEE PC 2G notebook. And, I’m proud to say that among the notebooks that I possessed, this 2G survived the tested time.

    The subject or topic better suggest why not to read the reasons commented by Jenn K Lee.

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