Fun with the Asus EEE PC Part 3 - Being productive on the road

The EEE isn't just for having fun, one of those Es stands for Easy to work. I decided that it was time to go on a road test so I popped the EEE into the glove box of my car and went to meet my good friend Amanda D'Silva. I asked her to have a go on it as she is someone who is very familiar with MS Office(tm) and in her role as a communications manager she often has to put together reports and presentations both in the office and sometimes on the move.

OpenOffice is already installed when you purchase the EEE. This is a great office package and Amanda happily used Writer to create a document and put together a presentation on Impress (it's worth noting here that the EEE has a VGA output socket so it can be connected to a projector for your presentation) while we were in a pub car park. An icon on the easy menu links you with Google Docs as well. You can upload documents created in OpenOffice to GoogleDocs and you can also read and write MS Office format documents. I've been using it for a few years now and find like it, I much prefer Writer to its main competitor. As for PDF files, Adobe Reader is included and OpenOffice can export to this format too .

You also get a webcam and a microphone built in. You could use this to make podcasts on the move. Amanda used it to record her comments on the unit (the video it records is better than the quality here, it records into Theora format video format by default which I had to convert to DV for editing then FLV for the web, unfortunately the video quality has suffered).

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The built in microphone might well be handy for the supplied Skype software, but there is the possibility of using it for video conference, I'm told that the clever folk in KMi have successfully used FlashMeeting on the device. FlashMeeting is a way you can video conference and get web replays that only asks client PCs to have Flash installed. It is a very useful idea.

Once you get back to the office you might want to print out what you have created. I managed to get the EEE to print to my network connected printer by doing nothing more complicated than following the supplied printer set up wizard, it even detected the printer on the network. There was no need for driver discs or even to download a driver.

The keyboard does take a little getting used to, but that gets easier over time. The machine really comes into its own when you are out and about and I can imagine it would be a very useful tool for anybody who has to travel in their work. It is also easy to use, Amanda could find her way around the interface very easily, despite not having used a Linux desktop before.

Next time - is it really possible to have a server in a hand bag?