So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE
ASUS' latest netbook is a slight upgrade to the Eee PC 1000E. It has a new keyboard design and better battery life.
- Design, keyboard is comfortable to type on, excellent battery life, 10in screen
- Keyboard base bounces when pressure is applied, touchpad isn’t smooth and multitouch is frustrating, no Gigabit Ethernet
ASUS' Eee PC 1000HE isn't a groundbreaking upgrade but the extra battery life is definitely welcome. The keyboard will divide people and the touchpad is a mixed bag, but this netbook is still a worthy option if you're after something light and functional.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
ASUS' Eee PC 1000HE netbook is almost identical to its predecessor, the ASUS Eee PC 1000H. It boasts the same 10in LED-backlit screen, 160GB hard disk drive and 1GB of RAM, but it offers a new keyboard design and boasts a longer battery life.
The notebook has a gloss black plastic finish that attracts fingerprints, but it certainly looks stylish. The large hinge feels sturdy, the display exhibits minimal flex when twisted and the chassis feels strong.
The biggest design difference with the Eee PC 1000H is the keyboard: the Eee PC 1000HE features what ASUS calls a "Chiclet" keyboard, with wider than normal gaps between keys. The keyboard's size is 92 per cent that of a conventional desktop keyboard, and the keys provide good tactile feedback (though they may be a little small for touch typists). The keyboard is also slightly louder than what we expected, and the base tends to bounce around when pressure is applied, detracting from the overall feel of this netbook in terms of build quality.
We weren't too fond of the Eee PC 1000HE's touchpad: its surface feels sticky and our fingers didn't glide across it as smoothly as we would have liked. The buttons are also too close to the edge of the netbook, meaning your fingers can easily slide off the edge, and they require a firm press. The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE's touchpad features multitouch, meaning you can use two fingers to scroll horizontally or vertically, or triple tap to right-click, for example. However, the surface of the touchpad and its relatively small size means this is not as useful as Apple's implementation — we found that turning this feature off made the overall user experience much less frustrating.
The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE runs Windows XP and our review unit was powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor. According to ASUS, the Eee PC 1000HE will have two models, one that will use the newer Intel Atom N280 processor. In addition to being slightly faster the Atom N280 processor uses less power, which should increase battery life. Both models have the same price and otherwise identical specifications.
The Eee PC 1000HE has a 160GB hard disk drive and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. ASUS once again uses hybrid storage, providing 10GB of online Eee Storage. This encrypted Internet storage facility provides a free online space to store and share files, taking the total potential storage capacity of the Eee PC 1000HE to 170GB. The conventional hard drive means the Eee PC 1000HE is a little noisier than netbooks with solid-state hard drives (SSDs), and the underside of the notebook does get quite hot.
The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE includes a D-Sub port, three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks, a 2-in-1 flash card reader that supports MMC and SD cards, and a Kensington lock slot. The lack of a Gigabit Ethernet port is disappointing. Strangely, some of our older external hard drives, such as the Maxtor OneTouch III Mini, needed to be connected to two of the notebook's USB ports to work.
In our iTunes test it took the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE 8min 58sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. This is not a great result when compared to a more expensive, regular notebook, though the netbooks in the Eee PC range haven't been designed for any serious media encoding.
The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE has a 10in screen with a native resolution of 1024x600. The display is LED backlit and performs well, though both horizontal and vertical viewing angles could be improved. Other features include Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi, as well as a VGA webcam above the display. A couple of speakers underneath the unit do a good job of reproducing music and movie audio.
Battery life is fairly impressive. In our battery test, where we loop a video file with the screen brightness at its highest setting, the Eee PC 1000HE's 6-cell 8700mAh battery lasted just over four and a half hours. This test was conducted in super-performance mode and you will get much better results by changing the power settings. ASUS' Eee Super Hybrid Engine software allows you to select from three performance modes — power-saving mode, high-performance mode and super-performance mode.
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