Review: Asus Eee PC 1018P

If you’re heading out on a field trip, the last thing you want to lug around is a big, bulky 17-inch laptop. At the same time though, doing on-the-fly “research” on the web on your smart phone’s tiny 3-inch screen just doesn’t cut it. The solution? Get a netbook.

Sure, most netbooks out there are so underpowered, cheaply made and downright fugly looking they’ll get you laughed off the school bus. That’s changing as manufacturers learn that along with supreme portability, students want power and style in their mobile rigs. Netbook pioneer Asus has tried to meet those needs with a slick little machine boasting decent specs that costs just a hair under $350 — the Eee PC 1018P.

We took the Eee PC 1018P on a self-imposed field trip to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and found that, despite some limitations, this chic netbook has the goods to be your next travel companion. Sporting a black brushed-metal lid and a digit-friendly, if cramped, chiclet-style keyboard, the 1018P looks and feels pricier than it is. With a fairly standard 10.1-inch screen, the ultra-slim Eee PC is less than an inch thick and slid easily into our backpack. It’s also lighter than other netbooks in this class, at just a smidgen under 2.5 pounds.

At the Botanical Garden, the 1018P booted up into Windows 7 Starter in less than a minute. The brushed metal on the lid is carried over to the netbook’s snazzy bezel and palm rest, giving the Eee PC some quality interior styling. Though the raised keyboard was easy to touch type with, the right shift key is annoyingly small. We also hated the single bar mouse button that was so stiff we had to use two fingers to press it down.

Otherwise though, the 1018P with its 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N450 processor and 1 gig of RAM is more than adequate to handle basic tasks while out in the field whether it’s surfing the web or word processing. The 1024 x 600-pixel glossy screen could be better — especially under afternoon sunshine, which caused it to wash out — but for this price, it’s not bad. The 0.3-MP web cam utilizes a sliding plate over the lens as an “on/off” switch, is pretty ghetto though and unless you’re recording yourself in good light, you’ll look like a pixilated shadow.

On the bright side, the 1018P runs extremely cool — that’s a huge plus on the 90-degree day we spent with it tromping around the garden. Battery life was also excellent, giving us over eight hours of internet use, word processing and assorted sophomoric shenanigans on a single charge.

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