We got sent a sparkly new Asus EeePC 1000HE mini notebook computer to play with the other day and we’re very impressed in many ways and extremely disappointed in one. First the good news – this is the first laptop computer we’ve tried which actually delivers on the promise of a decent battery life without resorting to huge clunky add-on packs. When they say all day computing in the blurb, they mean it.
The secret lies in a bunch of low power technology on the device itself, they call it a Super Hybrid Engine (we call it superb power management) plus a low voltage Intel Atom processor and a whopping 8700mAh 6 cell battery. The result is a laptop that is the equivalent of a diesel car, it just sips juice. This one here has now been running for around 15 hours, mostly overnight on standby, and with around 3 hours or so of computing, browsing and stuff with WiFi and a little Bluetooth. The battery gauge currently reads 4.5 hours (66%) remaining. That’s sensational off an early charge.
It means we can now carry around a machine and be confident it will last a day of use and not have to suffer cut down performance or features. This is a full blown 10 inch, fast computer, you’ll be hard pressed to notice any difference between this and a conventional 15 inch laptop when web surfing, it’s that snappy. The keyboard is a decent size, and very touch typing capable, the screen is legible, the thing plays video brilliantly (we had YouTube cranked up to HD full screen on a Kultiman track with no stutter whatsoever) and it has enough ports to meet just about every need. In fact the only thing missing is an optical drive, but nowadays that’s becoming less and less important really.
What can we say? This is a superb piece of engineering and it’s now the benchmark for this category of mini notebook, no question. It runs Windows XP or Linux out of the box, features a nice 1.3 megapixel webcam and a cool array microphone for Skype or other VoIP video calling, and weighs a delightfully measly 1.45kg. 1 GB RAM, 160GB hard disk, Bluetooth, SD slot, VGA out, 3 USB, LAN port, just terrific. Oh and did we mention the multitouch trackpad for zoom and two finger scrolling? The build quality of the actual notebook is also excellent, it has the chunky, solid feel of something that will last, not break apart after the first three months.
Icing on the cake? A full printed user manual (although no mention of the Bluetooth pairing code for the machine folks…tsk), a recovery partition on the hard drive and a superb online support section with all the drivers and documentation waiting for your needs. If only all manufacturers could operate at this level of quality.
So what’s the gripe? Well they’ve gone and thrown in a European/US price differential which is just insulting to their customers. The unit is priced at $389.00 at Amazon.com and a disgusting £322.58 at eBuyer in the UK. C’mon guys, that’s just taking the mick, isn’t it? A difference in price is expected, but let’s not try to gouge people and then claim it’s currency fluctuations or whatever. Every large multinational has a treasury department for managing currencies, so there’s no excuse.
But apart from price gouging, we’re just loving this product. It’s one of the few laptops we’ve seen over the recent past which actually makes sense in terms of adding real value to the market. Well done, Asus, shame about the price glitch.
Read on for more images and specifications (click on thumbnails for larger).