Asus basically invented the netbook, so it didn’t surprise us when the company’s latest Eee PC opened a can of whoop-ass on its competitors.
From the outside, the 1000HE doesn’t look much different from other models in the diminutive Eee line. But it’s the machine’s heart — the brand new 1.66-GHz Atom N280 processor — that makes it faster, stronger, smarter than its opponents.
Intel claims the silicon slab boosts computing power across the board, especially HD video playback — something that has been woefully horrid in past machines using Atom processors.
Intel ain’t lying. Performance-wise, this netbook is the fastest we’ve tested (by about 7 percent) in our benchmarks. And HD video playback was noticeably smoother and devoid of chop. Yes! Finally we can take a bus trip from S.F. to L.A., watch four episodes of Lost (in HD), and still have enough power to peruse Perez Hilton when we get in.
Better video would be a complete waste without a decent battery, and fortunately Asus has that on lockdown. According to Asus, the 1000HE’s six-cell battery last 9.5 hours. We’re not quite sure how they got those results — in our testing the 1000HE ran about five hours till it conked out. But that’s still enough time to power the PC for an entire transcontinental flight. We’ve only seen one other netbook turn in similar battery results: the Samsung NC10.
We also really swooned over the 1000HE’s roomy trackpad (yes the trackpad) and its two lovely buttons. Features like two-finger scrolling and zooming, give us comfy, precise control when navigating through XP menus.
Don’t get us wrong, we found things to hate on the 1000HE too. Like the keyboard! Sure, it’s decently sized, but the keys are extremely flat, making touch-typing extremely difficult. And if you’re one of those hunt-and-peck types, be prepared for your already pathetic WPM rate to drop drastically.
Other than the new chip and pumped up battery, there isn’t much new about this netbook. Same old 160-GB hard disk drive. Same old sliver of 1-GB RAM. Yawn.
With all that said, the price tag will probably draw you in. At $400, this ahead-of-its-time netbook is a bargain deal. But don’t go out and drop four Benjamins just yet. Our advice: Wait until other netbooks with the new Atom N280 chipset are released and see what kind of numbers they put up.