Asus Eee PC Netbooks have diversified into a sometimes numbing range of options, but when you boil it down, most of them have nearly the same components. Case in point: the Asus Eee PC 1015PED. For $329, this 10.1-inch Netbook has a single-core Atom N455 CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and the same long battery life we've come to expect.
However, it lacks the bells and whistles we've seen in premium Netbooks, including higher-resolution displays, HDMI-out, and HD accelerated graphics via Broadcom or Nvidia Ion solutions. Plus, for only $40 more, there's a dual-core Atom configuration, the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM, which offers faster multitasking with no effective losses in battery life.
The bottom line is clear: this Netbook offers nothing extraordinary, but it does the job. However, you might want to consider upgrading to the dual-core 1015PEM instead, unless you'd rather save $40.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$349|
|Processor||1.66GHz Intel Atom N455|
|Memory||1GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||250GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Starter|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.3 x 7.0 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.7/3.2 pounds|
Like many of Asus' recent Eee PC Netbooks, the 1015PED has a sleek, teardrop-shaped side profile, thicker at the back and tapering down to a sharp point at the nose. It's largely the same tapered/curved design we've seen on most Asus Eee PCs over the last year or so, particularly the 1005PEB, making it hard to muster excitement for a design that's barely distinguishable from others. Smooth matte surfaces on the back lid and keyboard deck guard against fingerprints, but still give off some ambient gloss. This Eee PC line comes in red, blue, white, and black; our red model had an attractive, coppery, brownish glow. The back lid's rather thick and the whole unit feels solid, even a bit dense, but the compact form feels easy to tuck away. Having no protruding batteries or edges other than a slight bump on the rear bottom is a plus.
The edge-to-edge raised chiclet-style keyboard features responsive keys and no flex, but the smaller-than-full-size keyboard felt cramped after a while. In particular, the tiny wrist rests underneath feel too small for easy lap typing. A wide multitouch touch pad is composed of the same comfortable matte-smooth lid/palm-rest material, and is delineated by thin silver strips on the left and right, a slight change from previous Eee PC models. The touch pad felt wider and nicer than on previous models, though our thumbs tended to land on the pad when typing. A thin plastic button-bar beneath is a bit small, but has a solid click.
Above the keyboard, a small plastic power button sits to the right and a quick-start button lies side-by-side with a Wi-Fi on/off button on the left. Asus' Express Gate Cloud quick-start OS is a pared-down environment with its own browser, photo app, and a few other features. Despite its faster boot time, we doubt many people will be satisfied with its performance and limited options; most will opt to simply boot up Windows and keep the Eee PC in sleep mode between sessions.
The 10.1-inch LED matte screen on the 1015PED has a maximum pixel resolution of 1,152x864, which is highly nonstandard and produces a squished look. The resolution can be knocked down to 1,024x600--common for Netbooks. We've noticed 1,366x768 10-inch Netbook displays becoming increasingly common, but there's no such luck here. Pictures and videos looked crisp, and viewing angles were reasonable for the size and hinge limitations of the Asus' lid, but Web pages feel cramped at this limited resolution.
Stereo speakers, located on the bottom front edge of the Eee PC 1015PED, offered louder-than-average audio that actually sounded quite good for video viewing. They're not musically extravagant, but they're definitely good enough for most needs.
Asus chose to add a physical lens cover slider to its VGA Webcam, ostensibly to protect people against being unknowingly recorded. It seems a little silly and is more likely to cause panic by making some people think their Webcam is broken when it's really just covered. Regardless, the picture quality is suitable for basic video chat, but its contrast levels created dark silhouettes. CyberLink's YouCam software, which can be launched from a pull-down software widget on the desktop, is included on the system and has links to various Asus cloud-storage services and shortcuts.
|Asus Eee PC 1015PED||Average for category [netbook]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
Netbooks rarely surprise when it comes to ports and features, and this Asus Eee PC doesn't break the mold. Three USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot pretty much round out the offerings; there's only a VGA-out for connecting to an external display. This Eee PC does have Bluetooth and is, in fact, Bluetooth 3.0-compliant.
Our review model technically was an Asus Eee PC 1015P with a very similar Atom N450 CPU. The 1015PED models now available come in either an N455 Atom processor or a slightly faster (and more expensive) N475 CPU, and a bump up in hard-drive capacity from 160GB to 250GB. The 1015PED configuration with the N455 most closely matches the model we received. Though the N455 CPU should offer incrementally better results, single-core Atom Netbooks perform within a narrow window with really only slight fluctuations between models. They're perfectly fine for everyday tasks and Web browsing, even playback of local video files, but streaming video is a mixed bag. Embedded videos in Web browsers like Hulu and Netflix looked good, but expanded to full-screen they tended to exhibit frame-rate stutter, making for technically watchable but choppy entertainment.
We're not really sure how many people really and truly multitask on a smaller-screened Netbook to begin with, but if you think you might, you may want to consider the dual-core Asus Eee PC 1015PEM instead. It didn't fare any better in single-core tasks, but it did garner better results in multitasking, making it potentially worth spending the extra money on.