Review: Asus Eee PC 1000H
The popularity of netbooks seems to just keep on growing. I suppose it's not really surprising to find a lot of people are keen on a cheap, small laptop!
I bought a 10″ Eee PC just in time for WDS08, where it seemed even the Macbook Pro's dominance might be under threat from cheap ultraportables. Since then I've travelled to Perth with it; taken it to several web events; and even used it at work.
Since I periodically get asked what I think of the Eee, I thought I should write up a proper review.
Specific model: ASUS Eee PC 1000H, Windows XP Home, 80gig HDD, 1gig RAM, 1.6Ghz Atom CPU.
price and portability
Two key reasons to buy a netbook in the first place are that they are cheap and tiny. With the Eee PC I have a neat little laptop for about the same amount of cash that my first iPod took out of me, which is kind of impressive when you consider the 1000H is one of the more expensive models so far.
And yes, it's tiny. The 10" model is heavier than the 9" (for obvious reasons), but it's still really light. I really don't notice the extra weight in my backpack on the days I carry this with me, a sharp distinction from the 15" MacBook Pro I used to borrow (which weighs a ton).
The Eee's portability is particularly noticeable getting through airport security checks. I've lugged a few different laptops through airports and they've been a real pain. However the Eee was a breeze - probably mostly because you can pick it up easily with one hand, leaving the other hand free to grab your bag.
In power-saving mode the Eee easily goes for more than five hours, putting far more expensive and heavy machines to shame - most laptops seem to need power by the two hour mark. Asus claim a maximum of seven hours, but to be honest I've never had it running that long in a single stretch away from power.
To put it into real terms... during the flight to Perth for Edge of the Web I spent time editing my presentation, watched an episode of Top Gear, wrote a draft of this review and still had three hours of battery left.
The only battery-related niggle is the battery LED. For no sane reason, it blinks green all the way from 80% down to 20%; at which point it starts blinking orange. This means the LED is blinking uselessly most of the time. I don't need to be alerted when power is 80%!
The keyboard was the reason I never bought a 7" Eee PC - I couldn't type on it, it was just too small. But the increase to 10" was a critical difference - it's still small, but usable.
The keyboard has an excellent feel, apart from a slight rattle in the right-hand side. My only complaint is that the right-side shift key is in the wrong place. Asus had to compromise on the placement of the shift key to preserve the layout of the cursor keys.
What this means is you have to be careful, or else an accidental keystroke on the up arrow will have you editing the line above your intended focus. It's annoying and it's really my biggest complaint about the machine.
Still I'm getting used to it and the only netbook I've seen with a better keyboard was the Acer Aspire One, which didn't compete with the Eee on any other critical factor on my list (particularly battery life).
This machine has one of the most natural and responsive touchpads I've ever used. It really is nice to use and with the low resolution it's plenty big enough. The multi-touch features are great.
The 1024x600 screen is fine. On the rare occasion something doesn't fit vertically, you can switch to a 1024x768 mode - you scroll slightly to the extra screen area, which sounds a bit odd but actually works pretty well.
I haven't had any problems with the performance of this machine. It does take a little while to start up, but once running it's fine - which has been true for many laptops I've used.
The Eee switches between three modes (power saving, high performance and super performance) depending on factors like whether it's on battery or mains power. Obviously you can override that behaviour, trading off some battery life to run at full CPU power.
Either way it handles work tasks just fine, particularly using StarOffice; it plays music and video with no hassles; and I've not had any issues with common browsing tasks.
I'm not sure how it would cope with something like Photoshop, but I'm not planning on doing any photo editing on the Eee. I have a desktop with a nice 22" monitor at home for that.
I've had one or two minor glitches. I needed to upgrade the touchpad drivers to get it working in some browsers; and if you have a password set on your machine it will bounce back out of sleep to the login screen the first time you hit the sleep button (you have to hit it again to actually sleep the machine).
I've also found you need to be patient and wait for Windows to finish shutting down before you close the lid. Apparently there are some system dialogs which prevent shutdown and the Eee doesn't seem to override these at the hardware level - which is bad if you've already shoved it into your bag.
Really these are minor issues and I think they're more related to the OS than the hardware.
The Eee PC was built to a purpose and it fulfils that purpose very well. I wouldn't buy this as a primary workstation because that simply isn't what it's for. However as a secondary, portable machine on a budget it's brilliant.
- extremely good battery life
- annoying battery LED
- right-hand shift key in wrong place
Would I recommend it to a friend? Heck I do all the time. I'm really happy with my Eee PC.