Editors' Note (June 25, 2009): Anyone interested in the 1000HE reviewed here is advised to check out the very similar Asus Eee PC 1005HA (released after this review was written).
Asus deserves credit for practically inventing the Netbook market with its original 7-inch Eee PC, and its 9- and 10-inch follow-ups. In the year-and-a-half since then, other companies have done much to add functionality (ExpressCard slots on the Lenovo S10) and refine the design (the big keyboard on the HP Mini 1000), leaving the original Eee PCs looking a little dated. At the same time, competitors such as Acer's Aspire One have come in at hard-to-beat prices as low as $350, stealing away the entry-level part of the Netbook market.
With the 10-inch Eee PC 1000HE, Asus has given the Eee PC line an overhaul, rolling out an improved keyboard and adding a newer version of Intel's Atom processor. While the faster processor doesn't add much in the way of performance, the Eee maintains its excellent reputation for battery life, and at $399, is competitively priced, making a great step up from the slightly cheaper Acer model.
|Price as reviewed||$399|
|Processor||1.66GHz Intel Atom N280|
|Memory||1GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 945GM Express|
|Graphics||Mobile Intel GMA 950 (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows XP|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep|
|Height||1.1- 1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||3.2/3.7 pounds|
For a Netbook, the Asus Eee PC line has always been a bit heftier than the competition, but that distinction is even more pronounced when compared with 10-inch systems such as the HP Mini 1000, which is more than half a pound lighter and considerably thinner than the Eee PC. Even Apple's new 17-inch MacBook Pro is thinner.
The keyboard is the biggest physical difference from previous 10-inch Asus Netbooks. The new flat-topped keys are widely spaced, which is similar to what you'd find on a laptop from Sony or Apple. It's a much-improved typing experience, and tied with the HP Mini 1000 as our favorite Netbook keyboard. Also notable: important keys, such as the right Shift key, have been relocated to a more logical position than on earlier Eee PC keyboards. A handful of quick-launch buttons above the keyboard cycle through power profiles, start Skype, and change the screen resolution.
Considering it's only $50 more expensive (or less, as we've seen the 1000HE available online for $25 or more off its $399 list price), the touchpad is much better than the one on the bargain basement Acer Aspire One, with a relatively large surface and big brushed-metal buttons.
The 10.1-inch wide-screen display offers a 1,024x600 native resolution, which is standard for a Netbook. It's readable, but most documents and Web pages will require some scrolling, and this system lacks the slick-looking edge-to-edge glass of the HP Mini 1000. A quick-launch button cycles through some other resolutions (1,024x768, 800x600), but displays usually look best at their native resolutions.
|Asus Eee PC 1000HE||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|
We were excited to get our hands on a system with the latest version of Intel's Atom CPU, specifically designed for low-power products such as Netbooks. The 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N280 runs slightly faster than the 1.6GHz N270 found in many other Netbooks, and has a higher front-side bus speed.
In practical terms, we saw only modest performance improvements. The Eee PC 1000HE was slightly faster in our benchmark tests than the HP Mini 2140 and the Acer Aspire One AOD150. In real-world terms, you'd be hard-pressed to notice the difference at all. Still, for basic tasks such as world processing, Web surfing, and e-mail, an Atom-powered Netbook is more than adequate, as long as you keep your expectations modest. Opening too many browser windows at once, or running several apps simultaneously, for example, can lead to slowdown and stuttering.
The biggest selling point of the Eee PC 1000HE is the system's excellent battery life, a product of a big six-cell battery and Asus' clever engineering. A large sticker on the wrist rest speaks of "One Day Computing," and promises up to "9.5 hours" of battery life. Naturally, getting anywhere close to that number requires a fairly rigid usage model. Asus says the 9.5 hours comes from running the system in power-saving mode, with the LCD set to 40-percent brightness, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off, and the Webcam disabled.