Asus may be pushing the Eee PC 1002HA as the new and improved Eee PC 1000H. The new model is thinner, lighter, and better looking than its predecessor. But after having spent a few months with an Asus Eee PC 1000H I can say there are some reasons you might want to choose it over the 1002HA.
I’ve been using an Eee PC 1000H as my primary netbook for over four months and I’ve already posted a number of articles about the netbook, but it just occured to me that I never put together a complete review of the netbook. So here we go.
The Asus Eee PC 1000H is one of the largest, heaviest netbooks available today, weighing in at 3.2 pounds. Like the MSI Wind U100, Lenovo IdeaPad S10, and HP Mini 1000, this netbook has a 10.2 inch display. But because of the way the netbook is designed, it seems to dwarf those netbooks in size. But there are a few things that make the 1000H stand out, including decent build quality, long battery life, and excellent software implementation.
The model I’m reviewing has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, an 80GB 5400rpm hard drive, and a 10.2 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display. It shipped with Windows XP, although it’s occasionally been guilty of sharing its hard drive space with alternate operating systems in a dual boot environment.
The Asus Eee PC 1000H measures 10.5″ x 7.5″ x 1.5″ and weighs more than three pounds, making it one of the largest, heaviest netbooks around. It’s half an inch thicker than the HP Mini 1000, for example, and weighs nearly a pound more. But it’s still a heck of a lot smaller and lighter than most full size laptops. And unlike the HP Mini 1000, the Eee PC 1000H has 3 USB ports, a full sized VGA output, and a 6 cell, 6600mAh battery.
The computer is made of plastic, but it has a nice solid feel to it. And unlike the MSI Wind U100, which has a lid that wobbles a bit if you push it, the Eee PC 1000H has a nice sturdy hinge. While some netbooks feature hinges that let the lid slide down below the back of the computer, the Eee PC 1000H features a basic hinge that pushes the screen high up over the keyboard. While this migth be slightly more ergonomic, it creates the illusion that the Eee PC 1000H is much larger than similar machines like the MSI Wind U100.
The Eee PC 1000H also ships with a 6-cell battery, which adds a bit of height to the computer.
If you can get over the bulky size and relatively heavy weight of the Asus Eee PC 1000H, there’s a lot to like about the build quality. The keys are nice and responsive, and there are four user customizable buttons above the keyboard that you can use to quickly launch programs, toggle the screen on and off, or adjust the computer’s CPU speed.
While the netbook does get warm after you’ve been using it for a while, the fan does a pretty good job of keeping the machine cool. I don’t think you could roast marshmallows on the Eee PC 1000H the way you could with the HP 2133 Mini-Note.
The Asus Eee PC 1000H has a 10.2 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel matte display. While it’s not really designed for outdoor use, this netbook stands up to direct sunlight better than a mini-laptop with a shiny, glossy display like the HP Mini 1000. You can adjust the screen brightness by hitting the Fn+F5 and Fn+F6 keys.
I find that the screen is a bit hard to read at the lowest brightness setting, but if you set the brightness to 50% or so, you should have no problem reading text or watching videos.
Asus includes a Windows utility that lets you adjust the screen resolution to 800 x 600 pixels if you need a 4:3 aspect ratio. You can also choose a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, but since the display is only capable of showing 1024 x 600 pixels, you will either have to scroll your mouse up and down to see the top and bottom of your screen or use LCD compression to squash a few extra virtual pixels on the screen.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Asus Eee PC 1000H has one of the best netbook touchpads around. While the Asus Eee PC 701 had a tiny touchpad and a single button which rocked to the right or left, the Eee PC 1000H has a nice wide touchpad with distinct left and right buttons. The touchpad also supports multi-touch gestures. For example instead of scrolling up and down on a web page by moving your finger over the right part of the touchpad as you would with many notebooks, you can scroll up and down on the Eee PC 1000H by placing two fingers anywhere on the touchpad and moving them up and down.
Asus did make some comrpomises with the keyboard. Most individual keys aren’t as wide as the keys on the HP Mini 1000. And some buttons, including the Ctrl and Shift keys on the right side of the keyboard are smaller than you would expect them to be.
One complaint many people have about Asus Eee PC keyboards is the placement of the right-side shift key. Since it’s placed to the right of the PgUp key, it’s difficult for many users to press and hold the right shift key while hitting another button on the keyboard. I find that I typically use the left shift key more than the one on the right side so this doesn’t bother me very much. But if you’re a big fan of the right shift key, this may not be the netbook for you. I know it’s a dealbreaker for some people.
I personally like the keyboard and find the Eee PC 1000H easier to type on than the MSI Wind U100 or HP Mini 1000. But that may be due to the fact that I’ve been using this computer for three months and I’ve grown used to it. Your results may vary.
The 6600mAh battery that ships with the Asus Eee PC 1000H is good for about 3 to 5 hours, depending on what you’re doing with the computer. If you plan to watch videos for three hours straight, your battery won’t last much longer than that. But for web surfing and other basic tasks, I regularly get around 4.5 to 5 hours of battery life.
The computer uses a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU which can easily be underclocked or overclocked to boost performance or battery life. Asus preloads the netbook with its Super Hybrid Engine software, which basically lets you toggle between Power Saving, High Performance, and Super High Performance Mode. Power Saving Mode underclocks the CPU to run at 1.2GHz, while the netbook runs at 1.7GHz when you turn on Super High Performance.
If you’re watching HD video, that extra bit of CPU power can come in handy. But for day to day use, the Eee PC 1000H runs plenty fast in Power Saving Mode. I usually leave hte Auto Mode feature enabled, which automatically intiates High Performance Mode when the computer is running on AC power. When it’s running on battery power, the Super Hybrid Engine will automatically underclock the CPU.
Aside from the Super Hybrid Engine, Asus includes a utility called EeePC Tray Utility which lets you adjust the display resolution (as I mentioned above) and toggle the WLAN, Blue Tooth, and Camera off and on.
Asus also preloads InterVideo WinDVD, which is kind of funny since there’s no optical disc drive. Still, if you have a USB DVD drive, it’s nice to have some software capable of decoding the video. You also get a copy of StarOffice 8, which is the application that OpenOffice.org is based on. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and database applications.
I wouldn’t recommend editing a two hour movie or playing Call of Duty 4 on the Asus Eee PC 1000H. But if you really wanted to, and didn’t mind the machine getting bogged down, you probably could do both of those things. The Intel Atom CPU isn’t exactly a speed demon, but I’ve had no problems opening several browser tabs simultaneously while listening to music and editing images in Irfanview.
Looking back over my notes, it looks like I never timed the bootup and shutdown times when I first got the computer. But after using it for three months, loading a bunch of applications, and installing the GRUB bootloader for choosing between Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP, I can go from zero to a fully usable Windows desktop in about 70 seconds. I’m petty sure that figure would be closer to 45 seconds on a brand spanking new system. It takes about 20 seconds to shutdown Windows.
If you’re looking for the smallest or lightest netbook with a 10 inch screen, this isn’t it. You might want to consider the HP Mini 1000. If you’re looking for the netbook with the best battery life, you’ll probably be better off with a Samsung NC10 or an MSI Wind U100. But if you’re looking for a netbook with decent build quality, a nice keyboard, excellent touchpad, good battery life, and reasonable performance, the Eee PC 1000H could be your machine.
This netbook typically sells for between $450 and $500, which means it costs almost as much as the Eee PC 1002HA which is smaller, lighter, and has an attractive brushed metal finish. But the Eee PC 1000H has a higher capacity battery that could provide an extra hour or two of run time.
There are at least half a dozen netbooks available today with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 10.2 inch display and a large hard drive. But the Eee PC 1000H was one of the first to hit the streets. And to be honest, I haven’t seen much in the models that have followed that have tempted me to sell my Eee PC 1000H and buy a new netbook. We’ll see if that changes once computer makers begin showing off their next generation netbooks at CES in January.
Blast from the past
Just for old time’s sake, here’s a look at the unboxing video I posted on August 22nd, when the Eee PC 1000H first came to live with me: