Luke Smith Write today, wrong tomorrow

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Review

I’ve been on the lookout for a netbook for a few months. I’ve been tempted by the HP Mini-Note 2133, Dell Mini 9 and Dell Mini 10. Each had things I liked about them but none made me part with my cash.

The Dell Mini 9 looks great, but after seeing it in the shops and being able to get my hands on it the keyboard was far too small for me. So when the Dell Mini 10 was announced I thought “great, a larger screen and larger keyboard so it should be OK” but unfortunately you can’t upgrade the RAM, so you’re stuck at 1GB, not enough to comfortably run Windows 7.

In the end I was looking at the Asus Eee PC 1000H which lead my to spot the 1000HE. With a whopping 9.5 hours battery life, 1.66GHz Intel Atom CPU (the 1000H comes with a 1.6GHz), 10” screen, 120GB HDD, built in 1.3MP camera and multi touch trackpad temptation became too much. So I ordered one, along with a new 2GB stick of RAM to replace the standard 1GB.

First impressions were good, it looks great, it’s not too heavy and the screen is nice and bright. I booted up with the default XP installation to check that everything was working and then proceeded to install the Windows 7 Beta released a few months back.

Installing Windows 7 was amazingly quick, taking about 30-40 minutes in total (I installed via hosting the ISO image using the Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM utility under XP).

Windows 7 had no problems finding drivers, except for the LAN driver (you can download the XP driver from the ASUS website that works under Windows 7). Everything “just works”. CPU usage is currently sitting around 20% with Outlook, Live Writer, twhirl and IE8 open.

The keyboard isn’t full size, but is perfectly big enough even for my large hands. The only issue, as with getting any new keyboard, is the placement of some keys, Home/End/PgUp/PgDn are all function keys, which is annoying. It’s nothing that a few days of use won’t solve, so my fingers memorise the locations.

The one thing which I wish was present was a nipple. I really hate trackpads to control the mouse cursor. They can’t cost much to include, and theres enough room in the keyboard for one to be put. However I do like the multitouch functionality of the trackpad, especially for vertical scrolling.

Battery life appears excellent, I seem to be getting about 7 hours out of it with the wireless card turned on.

My next task was to install some software, Office 2007 and Visual Studio 2008, which because I don’t have an external DVD drive I had to do via sharing the DVD drive on my desktop over the network. VS2008 took about an hour, which tends to be the usual amount of time. However when installing Visual Studio 2008 SP1 I began getting issues with the graphics drivers, the machine became unusable and unresponsive with the graphics flickering and disappearing every few seconds. I left the install to run and it completed after about 2 hours.

Overall I’m very happy with the device. Netbooks are the perfect device for throwing in your rucksack for use when commuting, which I do alot of, and so the battery life is a real bonus with the Eee PC 1000HE. Windows 7 is perfect for netbooks, hopefully by RTM there will be some more performance boost and the graphics drivers will be improved.

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