Asus EEE Is Fired
I've spent some time with the Asus EEE 1006. It was one of those almost there, maybe if I tweak... situations, and I've given up wasting time tweaking.
I have replaced it with a Lenovo X60, which has proved itself capable of 1080p fullscreen video with no issues. The Lenovo has a dual core Centrino Pro 2.0Ghz, more memory (4GB), just as quiet at least as far as I can hear, which is not very well. I threw a couple of large MKV files at it, played them flawlessly in the player of my choosing (VLC), which can't be said of the Asus.
When it's all said and done, I believe the real problem is driver support. The Asus (like the Lenovo), has a Radeon Mobility card. The problem here is that ATI does not release current reference drivers for their Mobility series due to pressure from laptop manufacturers. Unfortunately this means that features which work on a desktop part, like VLC GPU acceleration aren't available because the drivers are years out of date. The Lenovo can make up for this, just barely, with CPU power, the Asus, with its single core CPU, could not. NVidia seems not to restrict their driver releases in this way, so probably another Asus with an NVidia card would have worked just fine.
I believe that I'll stick with the laptop for a while until manufacturers start shipping reasonably powerful small PCs with BluRay drives. Hello! Apple! Asus! You listening? What the hell!
So now I have a EEE that does nothing. I think I'm going to use it to replace my Mac Pro as "Unixy machine I can get to from outside and test crap". We use the Pro rarely enough that having it sleep most of the time will probably make a pretty huge dent in the power bill. Maybe it will be enough to justify another EEE or Mac Mini in a few months when/if they include BluRay.