ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (245,477)

The Eee PC 1000HE is the latest netbook refresh from ASUS that offers a revamped chicklet style keyboard and the new Intel Atom N280 processor. The exterior and interior look nearly identical to the 1000HA and 901, so if you liked the old style you will love this. The biggest change users will find on this new model is the extended 9.5 hour battery life, thanks to a battery 30% larger and improved power management. Just how well does this new netbook live up to its advertised claims? Read our review to find out.

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Specifications:

  • Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz processor
  • 160GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive (Seagate 5400.5)
  • 1GB of DDR2 RAM (667MHz)
  • Windows XP Home operating system with SP3
  • 10” WSVGA LED-Backlit 1024 x 600 LCD
  • Ports: 3 USB 2.0, 1 VGA monitor out, headphone jack, microphone input, SD card reader (SDHC compatible), Kensington lock slot, Ethernet 10/100
  • Webcam (1.3 MP)
  • Battery: 7.2v 8700mAh 6-cell 63Wh battery
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g/n  and Bluetooth 2.0
  • One-year warranty
  • Size: 10.47” x 7.3” x 1.12-1.50”
  • Weight: 3lbs 2.4oz, 3lbs 9.9oz travel
  • Price: $399 ($374 with $25 preorder discount)

Build and Design

The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE keeps the same outside look of the 901 and 1000HA, with no noticeable difference until you look at the bottom or open up the display. Inside the new keyboard blends in with the rest of the glossy body, with the same gloss black paint used between all of the keys. Compared to the older Eee PC models this really adds another level of class and style to this netbook.

Build quality is very good with strong, durable plastics used throughout the body that help keep panels flex-free and the creaks to a minimum. The 1000HE holds its own ground inside a backpack, even against other heavy objects competing for space (like other laptops or books). For the average user this means you won’t find oily key impressions on the screen after you wedge this Eee PC into a backpack full of books on your way to class.

Display

The 10” LED-backlit display found on the Eee PC 1000HE is easy on the eyes and a real treat to view for hours on end. Whites are clear, colors are vibrant, and backlight levels are very bright and consistent. While many netbooks get the short end of the stick for some components such as processing power, they easily make up for it in screen quality. The panels found on most netbooks offer better viewing angles and brighter backlight levels than screen found on larger notebooks. Vertical viewing angles which tend to quickly invert colors on full-size notebooks stay accurate longer on the display found on the 1000HE. Horizontal angles are the same way, allowing the user to easily share a movie with a passenger on either side.

The only real downfall these smaller screens have is limited resolution (1024 x 600), which often causes problems with some applications that require minimum resolutions for menu screens. You can get past this with scaling or screen scrolling, but it is just a downside to the limited screen size in general.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The new Sony/Macbook style keyboard that ASUS has switched to for the 1000HE is a huge improvement in terms of ease of typing and tactile feel. The keys don’t feel as cramped since there is more space between them and even the key action feels smoother than before.  One change that I personally love is the new key layout with the better placement of the right shift key and the larger control key on the bottom right. What this means is if you normally hit the up arrow while typing on the old keyboard (like I always did) you will now finally get the uppercase letter you originally intended to type. Taking the place of the old shift key is a second function key, for one-handed page up and page down movements. The new keyboard comes very close to tipping the scales against the HP Mini 1000 and 2140 but it would probably have to be a tie for best netbook keyboard.

ASUS uses an Elantech touchpad on the 1000HE for its multitouch capabilities, which works great if you want dual finger control, but not so great if you want fast response and sensitivity. I found that it had some lag during quick movement and didn’t have the nice high sensitivity of similar Synaptics models. One problem we noticed after a few hours of use was the touchpad surface slowly peeling up on one side like a loose sticker, but after pressing it back down it didn’t come up again. It may have just been a manufacturing flaw where it was not seated correctly during assembly. The touchpad buttons were large enough for easy triggering by the side of thumb and worked great if you hit them dead center or on the very edge. Feedback was minimal with a very shallow click when pressed.

Performance

System performance was great for average use which includes browsing the web, typing up a document, or doing light work inside a photo editor such as GIMP. We didn’t see much of an increase in performance over the older 1000HA, even though the 1000HE is technically faster with a higher clock speed and front side bus. In some benchmarks we actually saw results that decreased, especially with the newer Seagate 5400.5 hard drive. Access times ended up being 50% slower than the previous 5400.4 model, even though every other variable stayed the same including capacity.

HD video playback capabilities were roughly the same as previous Intel Atom netbooks, playing some lightly encoded 720p trailers with 40-50% CPU usage, and normal HD content like TV episodes at 60%+ while also dropping frames. The Intel N280 processor does support a newer GN40 chipset, but it does not appear to be included with this netbook. All of our testing software points to the standard Intel 945 chipset found in other Atom netbooks.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 114.749 seconds
Sony VAIO P (Intel Atom Z520 @ 1.33GHz) 154.768 seconds
HP Mini 2140 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 138.812 seconds
ASUS N10 (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 126.047 seconds
ASUS Eee PC (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 117.577 seconds
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 127.172 seconds
Acer Aspire One (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 125.812 seconds
Sony VAIO TZ (Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.2GHz) 76.240 seconds

 

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,535 PCMarks
Sony VAIO P (1.33GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 500) 972 PCMarks
HP Mini 2140 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,489 PCMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,851 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HA (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,527 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,446 PCMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,555 PCMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600) 2,446 PCMarks

 

3DMark06 measures video and gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 92 3DMarks
Sony VAIO P (1.33GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 500) 88 3DMarks
HP Mini 2140 (1.60GHz Intel, Intel GMA 950) 118 3DMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,417 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HA (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 95 3DMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) N/A
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600) 122 3DMarks

 

HDTune storage drive performance results:

Ports and Features

Port selection is average compared to most netbooks, but less than what some new netbooks offer. ASUS doesn’t include an ExpressCard slot for external WWAN radios, like the Lenovo S10 or HP Mini 2140. The 1000HE offers three USB, LAN, headphone/mic jacks, a Kensington lock slot, and VGA. A SDHC 4-in-1 multi-card reader located on the side handles flash cards from digital cameras or storage expansion.


Front: Activity lights


Rear: Battery


Left: Kensington lock slot, LAN, 1 USB, Headphone/Mic


Right: SDHC 4-in-1 card reader, 2 USB, VGA, AC Power

Speakers

The speakers are good enough to enjoy some music or a movie, but they are too small to produce any bass or midrange. At peak volume the 1000HE can fill up a smaller room with music to share with a couple of friends, but you might be fighting against background noise in a public setting. Headphones are a great option for private listening or if you want volume levels high enough to hurt your ears.

Heat and Noise

Heat buildup and noise from the cooling system was minimal during battery powered use, as the system scales back the processor which then puts off less heat. Throughout the majority of our battery test the fans never turned on and the keyboard area never broke the 90F mark. While on AC power using high performance or super performance modes the system does warm up quite a bit, leaving the fans running constantly at a low speed. While I wouldn’t categorize the noise as obnoxious, it is as loud as my full-size notebook.

Below are images showing the external temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit:

Battery

The 1000HE has a battery that is substantially larger than the one found in the old 1000HA that gave only 4 hours and 28 minutes in our testing. To move up towards the claim of nine and a half hours ASUS bumped the capacity from 49Wh to 63Wh and tweaked the power management software so the processor sipped even less juice. Both of these changes led to some very impressive real world results. With the screen brightness set to 60%, wireless active, and processor set to auto it stayed on for 7 hours and 36 minutes. This is the longest netbook battery life result we have seen from a stock configuration. If you are going for longest possible time, you can shut off the wireless cards, put it into power saving mode, and lower the brightness all the way and it gets an estimated 9 hours and 20 minutes of battery life.

Conclusion

ASUS made some good improvements to the 1000HE, most notably the newer keyboard. The keyboard is more comfortable to type on over the old style and the improved spacing helps to reduce typing errors. The design has few changes, with some areas gaining glossy paint over a matte finish before, but the average user might not tell the difference unless both were sitting next to each other. The newer Intel Atom processor with a faster clock speed and faster bus speed had little improvement in our benchmarks over its predecessor and HD content is still unfeasible unless you are playing low bitrate videos. The battery life also improved by a wide margin, moving past seven hours under normal use, which is the greatest out of any netbook we have reviewed. Overall I would say ASUS has an impressive new netbook and a very affordable starting price.

Pros:

  • Awesome battery life (7 hours and 36 minutes under normal use!)
  • Comfortable new keyboard design
  • Faster Intel N280 Atom processor

Cons:

  • Elantech touchpad has some minor lag under fast movement
  • Processor, although faster, still isn’t very powerful
  • Not as small as Sony VAIO P


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