by Mihir Joshi
When ASUS announced and launched the Eee PC line of subnotebooks last year, they caught the attention of the world with their inexpensive and light products. Dubbed “netbooks” by the community, the original Eee PCs were good for little more than web browsing and word processing. However, they weighed a mere 2lbs., had a tiny footprint, and perhaps most importantly cost only $200-300.
ASUS has continued expanding on the Eee line with larger and more powerful models, and in June 2008 released the 1000 series, based on a 10” form factor. Many people did not approve of a 10” netbook, arguing that ASUS was crossing into the threshold of mainstream small-and-light notebooks. Moreover, at a launch price of $649, it was creeping into the price range of mainstream notebooks as well. Fortunately, that price has fallen considerably, and I decided to purchase one.
Here are the specifications on the ASUS Eee 1000H.
The price of $449 is a steal for a netbook of this functionality. Just a few weeks ago the 1000H was selling for $549, then ASUS announced a $100 price drop. The only comparable netbook, the MSI Wind, is still selling at $549 with the 6-cell battery. One important note – the 1000H ships with a slipcase. I think it’s pretty handy to keep the netbook from scratching and getting dust, but it certainly won’t protect it in a fall. I like to keep the 1000H in the slipcase and then in my backpack.
Reasons for Buying
Around this time last year, I was looking for a full-featured notebook that would not break the bank. Unfortunately, I realized that I could not get the balance of functionality and portability that I wanted in any current notebook, so I abandoned that plan and bought a reasonably powerful desktop. This year I have gotten the itch again, but since I already have a powerful desktop PC, I did not really need another powerful notebook. I just wanted something that I could move around with, and bring to class to take notes. I knew I needed a netbook, and after waiting for a while and doing research on the possibilities, I decided on the 1000H.
Where and How Purchased
I purchased this netbook from Zipzoomfly (www.zipzoomfly.com) because at the time they had the best price. This was a few days after ASUS had announced the $100 price drop, so most resellers were in the $440-450 range. ZZF was listing it at $439, but I could not buy it for a few days. When I went back to check, it had dropped to $409. Not wanting to miss that deal, I immediately pulled the trigger. Not surprisingly, the 1000H went out of stock within a few hours. My order went through, and my final price was $409 shipped. As it turns out, the price drop was to help ASUS sell off their remaining stock so they could introduce a new 1000H model. The new model ships with a 160GB hard drive and retails for $479.
Caveat Emptor: I purchased this netbook from ZZF on Saturday (9/13/08), and as of Thursday (9/18/08) my order had still not been processed. I later found out that I had to call them to verify my address, something that they make no mention of during the checkout process. It's highly unusual and frankly annoying that the customer has to call the retailer, rather than the other way around. If you do buy the 1000H from Zipzoomfly, keep in mind that you may have to call them. From now on I'm just going to avoid the hassle altogether by buying from other retailers that do not require me to jump through hoops to get my package.
Build and Design
I think the 1000H is extremely solid, and that's a testament to its design. At just over 3lbs. with the battery, it is fairly lightweight. Combined with its small footprint (10.5”x7.5”) it is extremely portable and I can easily carry it around without issue. Most of the body is made of ABS plastic, which I find to be quite sturdy. The mouse buttons, though they are likely plastic as well, have a brushed aluminum finish to them. After pushing relatively hard on the back of the screen, I was able to get some rippling along the bottom, but I had to apply a significant amount of force to get those ripples. The screen has a barrel hinge that is extremely solid, and its frame resists flex to a very high degree. In fact, I could only get some flexing by pushing forcefully on the top corners of the lid, and even then it was minimal. The casing seems to be very thick and sturdy, and the all-around construction is quite impressive for a notebook of this size.
The lid and palm rests are covered with a glossy plastic, which naturally is a magnet for fingerprints. Fortunately ASUS throws in a nice microfiber cloth that you can use to wipe the fingerprints off. The rest of the body is a matte plastic that won’t pick up fingerprints as easily.
The 1000H comes with a 10” screen with a native resolution of 1024x600. This is actually an unusual ratio, not conforming to the standard widescreen 16:10 ratio or even the HDTV 16:9 ratio. It's somewhere in between the two. The screen itself is matte, which I prefer to glossy because it does not pick up glare as easily. The colors are quite vibrant, and the blacks and whites are well defined. It is LED-backlit, like most netbook screens are, and with the matte screen it is bright enough to be readable in direct sunlight.
My unit shipped with zero dead pixels, which I am thankful for. Coming from a 20” desktop display, I figured it would be difficult to acclimate myself to a screen half the size. In reality, though, it is not too difficult. I do find myself scrolling quite a bit, though I suppose that is to be expected on a screen of this size. I won’t be doing post-processing on a screen of this size, but for what I intend to do with it, it is more than enough. Horizontal viewing angles are quite decent, but vertical angles are not as good. The screen does appear washed out from above and over-contrasted from below.
The speakers are as good as can be expected from a notebook of this size. They are adequate, but at maximum volume they do become tinny while not producing a whole lot of sound. Sound quality is much better with external speakers or headphones, and I do recommend that if you plan on listening to a lot of music or something that you do invest in headphones or speakers.
Processor and Performance
The 1000H, like nearly every netbook on the market, comes with an Intel Atom N270, clocked at 1.6GHz. It has Speedstep functionality to reduce the clock speed and increase battery life, and can be set to run at half-speed on battery power and full-speed on AC power. It is extremely fast for a mini-notebook, taking 23-25 seconds to get to the logon screen from boot. The hard drive is a standard laptop model; 2.5” and 5400RPM.
The 1000H ships with 1GB of RAM, but can be expanded to 2GB. ASUS does allow modification of the RAM and hard drive under warranty. Actual modification is made quite simple – just remove the back panel and you have instant access to the DIMM slot as well as the hard drive.
If you come in with reasonable expectations, the 1000H will do what you need quite snappily. So far, all I've done with it is web browsing, typing this review, importing a few pictures, and watching some TV shows online at Hulu. It performed all of these tasks very well, and I was especially impressed by the smoothness of the online TV stream. As this only comes with a GMA950, games are pretty much out of the question. You can play flash games and basic emulators, but I would not push it with 3D-accelerated games.
The Intel Atom is not built for speed, and coupled with a GMA950 and 1GB of RAM this netbook certainly will not be much in terms of power. It still puts up respectable numbers for a notebook of its size and more notably its price.
3DMark05: 264 3DMarks
SuperPI: 3m 9s to calculate 2M
wPrime: 112.343s to calculate 32M
Heat and Noise
Keeping with what seems to be a trend among Atom-equipped netbooks, the 1000H does get a little warm under use. The left palm rest does get warm after prolonged use, and the bottom area just under the hard drive does get noticeably warm as well. Neither of these reach the point of being uncomfortable, but they are noticeable. Fortunately the 1000H comes with rubber “feet” that prop it up about 0.5-1cm off the ground, allowing more air circulation underneath.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is always an area of uncertainty, and while many notebooks have solidly-built keyboards, just as many have flimsy keyboards that you don’t feel safe typing on. Fortunately, the 1000H’s keyboard is firmly in the first category. The base is solid, owing to the relative lack of empty space underneath it, and the keys don’t suffer from any flex or bouncing. ASUS claims that this keyboard is 95% the size of a normal laptop keyboard; while this may be true, anyone coming from a desktop keyboard to the 1000H’s will encounter some difficulty.
All the keys are smaller, and to maximize the amount of keys they could fit in the 1000H’s small frame, they’ve severely cut the size of some of the extra function keys. The right-shift key, for example, is smaller than any of the letter keys, and is awkwardly placed to the right of the up-arrow key. This makes it tricky to use, and you have to get used to its placement. What many users have done is used a keyboard remapping software to swap the up-arrow and right-shift key functions, and then physically swapped the key tops. If you want to, know that option is available to you. Along the top row, you have four additional keys. From left to right, there is a screen on/off key, a resolution switcher, a performance switch, and a Skype hotkey.
The touchpad is small, but it is relatively large for a notebook of this size. The 1000H uses a Synaptics touchpad, which to my pleasant surprise has multi-touch features built in. You can, for example, scroll by dragging down the touchpad with two fingers. If you tap two fingers, you activate the “mouse wheel”, and can scroll by dragging one finger. Right-click is activated by tapping with three fingers. I thought this was a great feature, and definitely was unexpected. The touchpad functions are remarkably similar to those on Apple notebooks, which leads me to believe they also contract Synaptics for their touchpads.
Input and Output Ports
The 1000H comes reasonably well-equipped in the input/output department, for a netbook. It has three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA-out port, a 10/100 ethernet jack, mic in, headphone out, and a Kensington Lock slot. None of the ports are stacked, and all of them are far enough apart from each other that you could have something plugged into each one without issue.
The 1000H has an Atheros mini-PCI Express wireless card that works with 802.11b/g/n. The reception itself is solid, and in my house I can get a strong (4-5 bars) signal from the basement when my router is on the second floor. The 1000H also comes with a Bluetooth module, which conforms to the 2.0+EDR standard. Its performance is also good; I was able to easily sync my phone with the 1000H and it transferred pictures from the phone very quickly.
The 1000H ships with a 6-cell 6600mAh battery that ASUS claims is good for up to 7 hours of computing. The bad news is that you will not see that kind of time unless you dim the screen all the way, turn Bluetooth off, turn wireless off, and take other severe optimizing steps like disabling ports and the webcam. The good news, however, is that the battery can easily go 5 hours under normal use. With wireless and BT on and the screen at half brightness, I was able to browse the web and even type parts of this review for 5hrs 43mins before the battery hit the two percent warning.
Recently, third-party vendors have begun selling extended-capacity batteries for the Eee series. For about $70 you can get an 8800mAh 8-cell battery, which I would project is good for about 7 hours of normal use and potentially over 9 hours in battery-saving mode. There is also a behemoth 11000mAh 10-cell battery on the way, which could net 8.5 hours of normal use or nearly 12 hours in battery-saving mode. Keep in mind that the tradeoff here is weight, and the early word is that a 1000H with the 10-cell battery will be in the 4.5lbs. range. At that point, you are creeping dangerously close to the weight range of mainstream notebooks, though I doubt any of them can do 12 hours of continuous operation.
Operating System and Software
The 1000H comes preloaded from the factory with Windows XP Home Edition, as part of an agreement between Microsoft and the various netbook manufacturers to be able to still ship products with Windows XP. It also comes with a recovery DVD that has a complete Windows XP installation along with all the 1000H drivers. I found this a bit strange, considering that the 1000H has no optical drive. I would have preferred an SD card or USB thumbdrive with the drivers preloaded, but I suppose that would have increased costs.
The 1000H comes preloaded with some basic software. Microsoft Works is included, as is Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer 2007. ASUS also includes their own office suite, named StarOffice 8, which is based on the Openoffice software. In addition, the 1000H comes with Skype and ECAP, ASUS’ webcam capture utility.
There is one gripe I have, however. The 1000H comes with the 80GB hard drive split into two equal partitions. My guess is that Asus assumed people would want one partition for installing programs and the other for storing files. I don’t find that very useful, but fortunately you can format the netbook and resize the partitions how you please.
The 1000H comes with a 1-year warranty Unfortunately the 1000H, along with all other Eee PCs, is not eligible for ASUS’ 1-year accidental damage warranty. They also have a 24/7 support center which you can call to resolve hardware issues, or you can chat with one of their customer service reps online. I’ve not had to call in the warranty, but if their warranty service is anything like their laptop quality, I’m not worried.
I am thrilled by this little netbook, and based on its specs, price, and reading various reviews of other netbooks on the web, I would go as far as saying that the 1000H might be the best netbook on the market. It offers nearly every feature found on similar netbooks, but takes it a step further with a 1” larger screen, as well as Bluetooth and wireless-N. The build quality is also fantastic, and upgradability is made simple with the removable back panel offering easy access.
The Eee PC 1000H is an excellent combination of performance and size, wrapped up in a usable 10” screen and a $450 price tag. I unconditionally recommend it to anyone in the market for a netbook, as I believe it to be the best one available.
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