As the company credited with practically inventing the Netbook category, it's no surprise Asus makes some of the most popular mini notebooks around. Top among these is the Eee PC 1005 series. Combining low (but not the lowest) prices with great battery life and good overall design, the 1005 has become the Netbook reference design for the entire industry.
The newest version, the $379 Eee PC 1005PE, is the first Netbook to reach our labs with Intel's new Atom N450 processor--the long-awaited sequel to the Atom N270 and N280 CPUs found in nearly every other Netbook.
This new 1005 model, thanks to the re-engineered Atom platform, is extremely efficient, and ran for more than 8 hours on our grueling battery drain test. That's extremely impressive, although the N450 was more of a mixed bag in our performance tests, beating other Netbooks in some categories, but matching or falling slightly behind in others.
Beyond that, the 1005PE eschews most of the recent trends in Netbook design, sticking with a 10-inch 1,024x600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Starter. We've become accustomed to the high-def 1,366x768 pixel resolution screens found on 11-, 12-, and even some 10-inch Netbooks, so this lower resolution feels cramped and dated in comparison. Nvidia's Ion GPU is also becoming a go-to part for upscale Netbooks, but is not included here.
The Eee PC 1005PE definitely scores points for being the first laptop out of the gate with the new N450 CPU, and its battery life is nothing short of amazing--making this a very useful system for serious road warriors. But we would have liked to see a 1005 that was more fully upgraded across the board.
|Price as reviewed||$379|
|Processor||1.66GHz Intel Atom N450|
|Memory||1GB, 800 MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Mobile Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Starter|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.3 x 7.0 inches|
|Height||1.0 - 1.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.8/3.4 pounds|
The design of the Eee PC 1005PE is very similar to that of previous 1005 models we've looked at, with a slight taper towards the front lip and gently rounded edges on the lid. While the battery fits the lines of the chassis without sticking out, it is very dense, causing the entire system to be heavily weighted toward the back.
The flat-topped, widely spaced keys are typical for a Netbook, but the surface area of each key is smaller than we've seen on some recent Netbooks, and certainly a big difference from what you'd find on an 11-inch model. Still, typing was relatively easy, and none of the critical keys are unfairly miniaturized.
The touch pad, however, is in need of a revamp: it's the same small one we've seen on every 1005-series Eee PC, built right into the wrist rest and demarcated by a rectangle of tiny raised dots. Combined with a thin rocker bar for the left and right mouse buttons, it's a far cry from the big pad and buttons on a system such as the Toshiba NB205.
While all 11- and 12-inch Netbooks seem to have 1,366x768 pixel displays these days, and even 10-inch models, such as the Sony Vaio W, offer it, the 1005PE is stuck with a 1,024x600 pixel screen. While certainly usable, it feels cramped, especially when scrolling down long Web pages or office documents.
|Asus Eee PC 1005PE||Average for category [Netbook]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
The new Atom N450 promises both lower power consumption and enhanced performance. In part, that's because the platform has been simplified, by moving the graphics and memory controller onto the processor itself and pairing it with a new NM10 chipset. The Atom N450 runs at 1.66GHz, the same clock speed as the previous N280 version.
In our benchmark tests of the Asus Eee PC 1005PE, we found the overall performance to be slightly better in some tests than the previous N270 and N280 Atom CPUs, but not in a way that radically changes your understanding of what a Netbook does.
In a more challenging matchup, the dual-core Atom 330, which is found in the new 12-inch Asus Eee PC 1201N, did much better in our standard multitasking test (as a dual-core CPU would be expected to), while the N450 in the 1005PE was faster in our iTunes encoding test.
While the overall hands-on experience won't feel radically different from a current-gen Netbook, this is the very first system we've seen with an N450 CPU, and further improvements to drivers and firmware may yield future improvements. A faster clock-speed version of this Atom is also expected from Intel sometime in the near future.