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The good folks at Asus have just sent us the Eee PC 1000HE, a new version of the company's popular 1000-series netbook. This model, you'll be pleased to hear, boasts a Sony Vaio TT-style isolated keyboard and a faster, sexier Atom CPU.

Okay, 'sexier' is probably the wrong word, but the new Intel Atom N280 chip is slightly more exciting than the ubiquitous N270 seen in pretty much every other netbook on the market. Its front-side bus has been boosted from 533MHz to 667MHz, meaning it now runs at a heady 1.66GHz -- an improvement over the 1.6GHz N270.

Okay, 'heady' is probably the wrong word (we've lost our dictionary -- can you tell?) but you get the point. The faster front-side bus means it can theoretically transport data between the CPU and the northbridge -- which controls the memory and video functions of the device -- at a faster rate. Moreover, it does all this without compromising on battery life. Asus reckons the 1000HE can last as long as 9.5 hours on its six-cell battery, although we'll take that figure with a pinch of salt.

The 1000HE's other key feature, the isolated keyboard, is a joy to use. Even Nate Lanxon, self-confessed hater of netbooks, found it 'okay', while Ian Morris, a man who was abandoned in a complaints queue as a child, said it was 'fine' -- glowing endorsements, to be sure.

Elsewhere, the 1000HE is very similar to previous models. You get 1GB of RAM, a 1.3-megapixel webcam and a 160GB hard drive, all wrapped up in what has become one of our favourite netbooks over the past 12 months or so.

Pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed, but we'll clear all that up in a full review later this week.

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The Eee PC 1000-series chassis is just as attractive as ever. Pull this baby out in public and you'll be the envy of men, women and muggers throughout the land.
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The isolated keys on the keyboard are reminiscent of those found on the Sony Vaio TT and Apple MacBook. They're both comfortable to use and pleasant to look at.
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The 1000HE isn't the smallest or lightest of netbooks, but it's certainly comfortable enough to carry for long periods.
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