Netbook Review: Asus 1000HE, the 'Champ': Page 2

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A Few Ounces Overweight?

The Asus achieves such longevity with a battery that fits flush with the case, without protruding or propping up the system as do numerous netbook power packs. At 3.2 pounds, the Eee is on the heavy side of the category, but still handily portable, measuring 7.5 by 10.5 by 1.5 inches with a handsome barrel-hinge design and glossy blue lid and palm rest.

Two USB 2.0 ports, an MMC/SD memory-card slot, and a VGA port are on the system's right side, with a third USB port joining Ethernet, microphone, and headphone jacks on the left. The screen is sharp and colorful, usable with the backlight brightness turned one-fifth or even two-fifths of the way down instead of only at its top one or two brightness settings.

The chiclet-design keyboard -- built with minute spaces between the keys instead of an edge-to-edge array -- is what's known in netbookland as a 92-percenter, with the span from A through apostrophe taking 7.5 inches compared to the 8.0 of a desktop keyboard. It has a first-rate typing feel, with Ctrl and Delete keys in their proper place in the bottom left and top right corners, respectively, though Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn are the familiar Fn-key combo with the cursor arrows instead of dedicated keys.

There's a good-sized touchpad below the spacebar, with mouse buttons suitably placed below instead of awkwardly on either side as with some netbooks. It took us a day to get used to the touchpad's feel for ordinary tapping and dragging, but no time at all to get addicted to its handy gesture of swiping with two fingers to scroll in addition to swiping with one finger to move the cursor. Pinching and spreading your finger and thumb also serve to zoom in and out of applications.

Asus' software bundle is skimpy, lacking even a trial version of antivirus and firewall protection and oddly bundling Sun's StarOffice, an older, less capable version of the free Microsoft Office-compatible suite better known as OpenOffice.org, along with WinDVD and Skype. Ten gigabytes of online "Eee Storage" are free for 18 months (24 if you register with Asus).

Competition, From Asus and Others

For now, as we said, the 1000HE's features add up to the nicest of the netbook lot. Indeed, we can come up with only a couple of complaints. One is that we like our netbooks under rather than over three pounds. Asus has acknowledged that by unveiling (though not yet shipping) a 10.1-inch model that packs the 3.2-pound 1000HE's specifications into a 2.4-pound, 1.0-inch-thin slimline dubbed the Eee PC 1008HA "Seashell."

If you can overlook the same tired Intel chipset, the 1008HA just might be the Apple MacBook Air of netbooks -- complete with a similarly unswappable lithium-polymer rather than removable lithium-ion battery, which Asus touts as lasting for six hours and which independent tests will presumably prove somewhat short of that. It certainly looks stylish in photos.

Our other minor gripe is the 1000HE's price -- list $399, with a street price running about $380. That's not the most costly in the netbook universe, especially considering that the Eee includes Bluetooth as well as WiFi wireless (and more robust 802.11b/g/n rather than mere 802.11b/g WiFi, too).

But with Acer positioning the 11.6-inch Aspire One at $380 and other rivals offering 10-inch models at $349, $329, or even $299, we wouldn't be surprised to see Asus trim the 1000HE's sticker in the near future. (The company says it'll sell the Seashell for $430.)

Such a cut could help the 1000HE stay where it at least arguably belongs: with its picture in the dictionary under "netbook." Except for the universal flaw of poor graphics performance, it's the state of the art.

HardwareCentral Intelligence

Asus Eee PC 1000HE
Available: Now

On a 5-star scale:
Total: 13 out of 15

Article courtesy of Hardware Central.

Tags: Windows, Dell, netbooks, HP, asus

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