Asus Eee PC 1000h review

November 24th, 2008

Here’s the Asus Eee PC 1000h. A 3lb computer that costs around $500.

The 1000h comes with a 1.6Ghz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB 5400 RPM hard drive, 802.11 draft N, a 6 cell battery and Windows XP Home. There are also versions with 40GB SSD and 80GB hard drives. You can also get a white coloured version.

The body is plastic and is covered with a glossy finish which shows fingerprints. It weighs in at 1434g (3.16lbs).

The plastic feels pretty thick so the 1000h feels fairly solid.

The 1000h isn’t particularly thin. The battery is the thickest point. I actually don’t mind this because it makes it easier to hold if you’re walking around. In fact, I thought the best way to carry the 1000h around is just by putting it in a form fitting case and carrying it like I would a binder.

The screen hinge is pretty strong and feels well made. It opens to about 160 degrees.

The included AC adapter is tiny; if you don’t include the cables it’s about half or third the size of my other laptop chargers.  It has an output of 36w compared with 55w to 90w on most larger laptops.

If you want to start over again, get a DVD you can use to bring the 1000h hard drive back to factory specs. You’ll need to find an external optical drive to do this since the 1000h doesn’t come with one. I just disconnected my DVD drive on my desktop and ran a cable to a portable hard drive case and then connected that to the 1000h. Please note, the DVD contains a ghost image which will create 3 partitions on the hard drive; a “c” drive, an empty “d” drive and an EFI partition (more on that later).

On the left are the laptop lock slot, Ethernet port, USB connector and headphone/microphone connectors.

On the right is the power connector, VGA and 2 more USB connectors.

There is no Express card slot. This doesn’t bother me one bit but it may be an issue to some.

The underside has a big door. Behind it are the 2.5″ SATA drive, mini PCIe slot (with a wifi card in it) and a DDR2 SODIMM slot. You can use 9.5mm (standard) 2.5″ SATA drives.

To be honest, the easy to access 2.5″ drive and SODIMM slots (plus availability of cheap 1000 series accessories) are what sold me on the 1000h over other similar netbooks. I had a spare 2.5″ SATA SSD lying around so I was anxious to put it in something.

The screen measures 10.2″ and has a resolution of 1024×600. I was surprised at how bright the display is. I find it very usable indoors at all brightness settings except the lowest one.

Now I’m generally used to screens that are at least 768 pixels high so I had some usability concerns before I got the 1000h. Indeed I initially had some issues but found that adjusting some settings in Windows helped alleviate most of them. The 3 main things I did was switched the start menu to small icons, auto hid the start menu and moved some of my Firefox tool bars around. After these changes, the 600 pixel height doesn’t bother me as much. The only time I really have problems are with some webpages which have pictures which are too tall for the screen.

On top of the screen is a 1.3 megapixel camera. To be honest I never use webcams so I have no idea how good the camera is. I did use it to take one or 2 pics, the image quality wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be.

The keyboard is not bad, the feel is okay and I was able to touch type on it immediately. Dedicated page up/down/home/end keys would be nice but given the size of the 1000h, I understand why they need to be accessed with a function key.

My only real complain about it is that the right shift key is half width and is to the right of the up key. So, whenever I want to press the right shift, I press up instead. It’s really annoying and despite having the 1000h for a few weeks now I’m still not used to it.

The touchpad is fairly small. There are 2 mouse buttons that have a snazzy metal finish to them. I found them to be too stiff and noisy when you press them.

Another problem I found is that the touchpad is too close to the keyboard – so, when I type, I found myself touching the touchpad a lot.

Speaking of the touchpad, it’s multi touch so you can put 2 fingers on it to scroll through webpages like you would with the touchpad on a Mac. If you want to scroll side ways, you could double tap the touchpad to bring up freehand scrolling (sort of like when you click the wheel on a mouse wheel).

There are 2 speakers on the side of the Eee. They’re surprisingly loud and actually sound pretty good for a laptop. They’re loud enough that I don’t bother using headphones when I exercise on a machine.

Noise wise, I thought the included hard drive (a Seagate 160GB 5400.4) was audible even when idle in a quiet room. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m used to a laptop with an SSD.

There is a built-in cooling fan, while it’s not extremely loud it does have a distinct noise to it. I’d describe it almost as a ‘mooing’ sound.

You get 3 main pieces of software with the 1000h: Eset’s ENOD32 antivirus (I think it’s a version with 3 months of updates), StarOffice 8, EeePC Tray Utility and ‘Super Hybrid Engine’. Super Hybrid Engine is just a piece of software that helps throttle the CPU speed when you’re not using it. It can also overclock it to 1.7ghz when you need that extra 0.1ghz of speed.  The Tray utility is used for switching screen resolutions and turning the camera/WiFi/BT on or off.

For the Bluetooth, Asus includes WIDCOMM It includes support for A2DP.

Probably the best thing about the 1000h is that it boots up really fast. Most PC’s come with a bios (the black screen that shows you your processor speed, RAM, hard drives, etc. when you boot up). The 1000h has this but it also has an option to use EFI (Intel Mac’s use EFI) which cuts the time from when you press the power button to when Windows actually starts to load down drastically. Basically, when you press the power button, the 1000h almost immediately begins to boot Windows.

I think when I first got the 1000h, it booted up in about 32 seconds – that includes an antivirus program.

Performance is adequate for surfing the web, emailing, word processing, chatting, stuff like that.

If you’re a patient person, you can even do some image editing and stuff like that.

I might add some benchmarks later but to be honest I don’t see much point for a device like the 1000h.

Performance is not adequate for playing most newer games including many flash games, video editing, that sort of thing.

Here’s what I’ve done with my 1000h; I was working out on an elliptical and streaming a DVD over my wifi network and surfing the web while at the same time using remote desktop to chat on my computer upstairs.

The video didn’t skip and the processor hovered around 40% utilization. Given how slow I was expecting the 1000h to be, I was very impressed with this. I was also impressed that the WiFi was stable and fast enough to stream a DVD.

Battery life is always hard to quantify since everyone uses their computer differently but under normal circumstances (surfing the web, emailing with the brightness all the way up and BT and WiFi on) I’d say the 1000h is good for a very useful 5 hours. You can probably get more if you turn the brightness down.

The question I ask myself is: do I want something powerful that I will use less or do I want something that I use more?

While the Eee has a similar price to an entry level laptop, typically these entry level laptops weigh 5 or 6 lbs – so they’re too big and heavy to bring around. The Eee on the other hand is smaller, lighter and for many tasks, fast enough. It’s a trade off; performance or portability. If you can live with the 1000h’s modest performance then you’ll love the portability.

Another thing to consider when it comes to portability is if you can have your computer with you more – you’ll use it more. What good is having a fast computer if it’s not around to be used.

As for the Eee PC specifically, while not without some flaws; the horribly placed right shift key, distinctive fan noise, stiff mouse buttons, somewhat lumpy profile and slightly low resolution display I find it to be a very useful device. It’s a good balance between power and portability. It’s nice having a computer that is small enough to carry around yet is powerful enough that I can actually use it.

What stood out most to me when it comes to the 1000h are it’s bright screen, loud speakers, useful battery life and easy to upgrade hard drive.

Howard Chui

Entry Filed under: Computers,Reviews

1 Comment Add your own

    Ken  |  December 8th, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Hey Howard, haven’t been to your site in awhile and just caught your eeePC review. I’m typing this on my eeePC 1000h that I bought a couple months ago. LOVE IT. It’s been a few years since I last had a laptop and wow am I impressed with my eee. I chose mine for all the reasons you stated. Who wants a really powerful laptop that is really big. In the business world I see most laptop users just using their computer to get/send e-mail and run basic business software. No need for anything more than the 1000h. And who needs to lug around a laptop with an optical drive. I just use the built in cd/dvd drive from my desktop through the network when I need to download a cd-rom. I have to say the one thing that drove me crazy was the right shift key as you also stated. I took care of that by downloading AutoHotkey. It loads at start-up and redefines the UpArrow key to be a Shift key. To use UpArrow I defined the key as Alt+UpArrow. It is such a small easy program to use and you will gain so much more happiness. Just put it in your Startup folder and forget about it. I spent several months looking over all of the netbook competition when the Intel Atom came out. It is a GREAT processor and at this point I think the eeePC 1000h has all of the competition beat but I’ve heard that more of the major manufacturers are working on their own netbook versions. I’m sure there will be better ones in the future but for now the 1000h works for me.

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