Review: It’s been a while since I made a genuine impulse buy. Though the netbook hype has been large nearly everywhere you look lately, the New York Times wasn’t the article that put me over the edge. I’ve been thinking about getting a new laptop for quite some time, but didn’t want to go the tricked-out Macbook route or feel the need to have a media machine. All I really wanted was something that I could use to check e-mail, blog and work on my great-American novel (y’know, something with vampires, wizards and lolcats) while carrying it everywhere. The thing that kicked my bleeding green heart over the edge was an article on Eco-Geek about the top five greenest laptops on the market. To be more specific, the part of the article that mentioned the Eee PC’s 9.5 hour battery life is what kicked me over the edge and cause me to click the “add to shopping cart” button. The computer has only been on the market for a few months. Do we really know how long-lasting (an essential part of being green, if you ask me) it really is?
As for performance and capabilities, so far, so good.
The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE is as close to my ideal mobile machine as I’ve seen realized…cell phones and mp3 whatchamabobs included. It comes equipped with a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processor that I’m told allocates energy needs to maximize efficiency. The 1 GB RAM (easily and inexpensively upgradeable to 2GB, should you need it) and 160GB hard drive are more than enough to accommodate your mobile web-browsing, podcast listening, e-mail writing and even Skype chatting needs. There’s even enough juice in this machine for a bit of light graphics editing or design work. If this isn’t enough for you, Eee even gives you 10GB of free online storage for your projects.
The 10-inch backlit widescreen is one of the clearest I’ve used on a laptop and at 1024×600 resolution, most applications are comfortably readable without any need for left-right scrolling. Typing and touchpad navigation may take a little bit of getting used to, but once your brain eases into the reality of the keys being a bit smaller and closer, it becomes second nature. On the other hand, the touchpad is smaller than an average laptop’s and a lot more sensitive. It took a bit of tinkering to find a comfortable setting for the touchpad and I am still getting used to the buttons being located on the edge of the computer’s body. One nice feature is the two-finger scroll option that is found on most Apple notebooks. It’s one of the only features that has ever made me want an Apple system.
My Eee came loaded with the Windows XP Home operating system and an odd bundle of software including StarOffice, Skype and a DVD player (odd, considering there is no disc drive included on the machine). It’s a basic, but useful package without any special bells and whistles, but this isn’t a machine for people who want to ring and hoot. There are three USB 2.0 ports as well as a standard spring-action card/memory stick reader that makes file transfer and software installation a simple procedure if you don’t have access to a wireless connection. Standard audio in/out ports, a VGA port and a RJ-45 network port are also included, and if you are the type of person who has several mobile devices, the Eee will sync to your bluetooth devices at the click of a button.
The biggest downfall of the Eee is it’s tinny and unflattering speakers, though the in-body microphone is decent, as is the 1.3 megapixel webcam just above the display. For those of you who need to rock out, the headphone jack is adequate, though the sound output isn’t quite the concert quality that all the kids like these days.
Did I mention that all of this weighs in at just above 3 pounds and comes with a neoprene zipper case that makes for easy transportation whether you wear a backpack or name brand handbag. Taking this machine with you wherever you go isn’t quite as easy as holstering an iPod to your belt, but I’d much rather have a tool like this than a distraction like that in my bag. Not only that, but if you are an early-adopter like me, this mini-computer will be sure to draw the eyes of men and women who think that all things miniature are the “cutest thing ev-ar!” I’ve had six women describe my Eee in those terms in the last five days.
Though not perfect, the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE will fit the business and personal needs of the majority of people out there. If approached with an attitude of utility instead of entertainment, this machine will surely stay sleek and useful on the inside and out for a long time to come. That isn’t to say, of course, that you won’t be able to watch silly cat videos every now and then. I tested that function as well… For you… It’s all good.
It may not be able to do more than a few major tasks at once, but maybe…just maybe…that kind of forced streamlining is needed in this frenetic and schizophrenic time. For me, the Eee is the perfect mixture of advanced technology and fundamental tool to help me keep organized, focused and entertained. The price and long-lasting battery don’t hurt either.
Rating: 4.5 / 5