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… play online games of different genres…

… launch a slide show from pictures and photographs…

… send a few messages to friends using multi-protocol Pidgin client…

… or connect using Skype.

There is even a File Manager supporting multi-window mode. You can guess its origin from the way the icons look: it definitely comes from Gnome:

Of course, everything we mentioned above is just a part of rich functionality available to you. With Internet access you can check your e-mail using web-interface, watch videos or listen to music. It was really frustrating to see no video player among preinstalled applications offered by Asus Express Gate, since it used to be part of the Splashtop system used as a basis for this OS.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of limitations and faults that prevent Asus Express Gate from being widely used. You can install this system onto a SATA HDD only if it works in IDE mode. You can install it onto a flash drive, but in this case you won’t be able to write anything on it or to view the folders with files. Why does File Manager have access only to USB devices, while the image viewer can show photos stored on the hard drive? Why did they write it using Macromedia Flash that slows it down a lot? Couldn’t they find some other decent graphics editor among open source Linux software? Where is the promise file exchange if it doesn’t see the network PCs and drives? Why did they limit maximum screen resolution to 1440x1050?

I could continue the list of questions, but it is evident that the limited functionality of Asus Express Gate will not let it fully replace any base operating system. At the same time I wouldn’t say that this system is totally useless. Why would you boot the bulky default OS if all you need to do is just send an IM to a friend, look through the current news headlines, check your e-mail or the weather forecast for the night? Thanks to almost momentarily loading, Express Gate is an excellent alternative at least until we don’t have internet access in refrigerators, TVs and hallway mirrors :)

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