Asus Eee PC 1000HE.

For a while now I’ve been rambling on about netbooks and on Saturday I finally received my Asus Eee PC 1000HE, meaning that I’ll shut up about the netbook thing soon. But I thought I’d share my initial impressions of the computer first.

The 1000HE is a 10″ netbook with the latest Intel Atom N280 processor, 1GB (can be replaced with 2GB if necessary) of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and all the other bells and whistles you’d expect from a computer these days.

The netbook comes with Windows XP Home Edition installed and that works well. The N280 isn’t a power horse, though, and it will start to struggle a little when you open Flash-intensive sites, like online newspapers tend to be. I didn’t test video, but some reviews I’ve read say that most video formats should work OK, except for 1080p HD video where it’s likely that you will experience some frame dropping.

A major selling point for the 1000HE is the advertised battery life of 9.5 hours. I’m not really sure if 9.5 is realistic, mainly because I’ve not had the computer turned on for that long yet. But since I started using it on Saturday, I’ve only plugged in the charger once. The 9.5 hours of battery life are also dependent on how good the power saving features of the operating system is and I’ve installed Ubuntu in favor of XP. According to what I’ve read on the all-knowing interweb, battery usage with Ubuntu tends to be higher than when using XP. But if I’m able to use the 1000HE for at least 8 hours straight at normal use without the need for an external power source, that’s more than enough for me.

Some people have problems with netbooks because they tend to have rather small keyboards. So far I’ve not had any issues with the 1000HE’s keyboard, but I’ve got small girly hands, so that might be the reason why it didn’t take long adjust my writing style to it. Noise, or rather the lack of, is important to many people. As for fan noise, the 1000HE is very quiet under normal use, the fan is almost impossible to hear. I’ve not tried to run CPU intensive operations to really get it going, though.

At 1.45Kg (3.20lbs) and with the dimensions of 266mm (W) x 191.2mm (D) x 28.5mm~ 38mm (H), the netbook should be quite portable. Exactly how portable I don’t know, because I haven’t brought it with me outside of the apartment yet. But it’s portable enough to be used when laying on the couch and sitting by the dinner table. Like most laptops are, too, I guess.

Of course there are a couple of things that could have been better, but I suspect that they are related to me using Linux and not XP. Flash, for instance is a nightmare, at least Flash video streaming. Even though the CPU load is not too high, there is a constant audio/video sync problem and that makes Flash video more or less useless. The built in web camera also struggles in Linux, with a crappy frame rate. In XP it worked much better. The final thing that is not working very well on Linux is the audio level. Even at maximum volume, the audio from the speakers is hard to hear in a semi-noisy environment, like when the TV is on. It was a little better when using headphones.

But all in all, the Asus Eee PC 1000HE is a great choice if you’re looking for an ultra-portable computer for basic everyday nerd tasks.

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