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Asus is the name synonymous with netbooks these days, and it is hard to believe that the past two years have seen significant leaps in terms of netbook technology from the humble Eee PC 701 that came with a 7″ display and just 4GB of internal memory to boot, alongside a frighteningly short battery life. Fast forward to today and we have the Asus Eee PC 1000HE that hopes to pummel the competition into submission. What makes the 1000HE different from most of the other netbooks in the market? Well, it comes with the new Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz processor for starters which is faster and more energy efficient that the N270, hence allowing it to last much longer compared to regular netbooks.

Design
The Eee PC 1000HE takes up the maximum allowable size as agreed with Microsoft – featuring a 10″ display that has a resolution of 1,024 x 600, just like any other netbook its size. On top of the glossy display is a 1.3 megapixel camera that comes in handy when you want to hold a video conversation with your friends and family over an Instant Messaging program such as Skype and MSN Messenger among others. The top part of the netbook when closed is a certified fingerprint magnet, but how else are you going to include a touch of class in your device without having it pick up any fingerprints in the process? I like the way the 1000HE’s lid closes – with a rather solid thud, sending the netbook to standby mode there and then without having to hear a “click” sound that is normally associated with larger (and older) notebooks.

Keyboard and access buttons
Since the 1000HE is already extremely short on space, it makes perfect sense to throw in a bunch of quick access buttons in order to maximize the functionality of the device. You will be able to use the quick access buttons to perform a variety of tasks including turning the monitor off (but the 1000HE still does not enter standby mode, mind you) in order to conserve battery life, changing resolutions on-the-fly without having to go through the usual Windows settings, switch between various power management modes as well as boot up Skype. Strangely enough, the last two quick access keys (power management mode switching and booting up Skype) have the same icon printed above the keys, so it could lead to some confusion there. A quick check with the manual, however, reveals that these two keys are actually User-defined Keys that can be programmed according to your whims and fancies.

As for the keyboard itself, it takes on the new “chiclet” design that seems to be all the rage these days, whether they are meant for notebooks or netbooks. Let me warn you first – if you are a newbie to the world of netbooks, you will find it rather hard to get used to the netbook keyboard at first, but as mother used to say – practice makes perfect! Most of the time, first timers will probably run into snags with the right Shift key due to the much shorter design, and you can forget about looking for dedicated Home, End, Page Down and Page Up keys since they all fall under the arrow keys area that requires one to hold down the Function key beforehand. Overall, the learning curve of using the keyboard isn’t steep, and you might even find it to be rather enjoyable after a while.

Touchpad
I have difficulty with the sensitivity of the touchpad though, despite the fact that it looks really sweet surrounded by metal left and right buttons. There are several gestures to learn up with this touchpad in order to make your life much easier while you’re on the go without a mouse in tow, but as mentioned before, there is the sensitivity issue which could frustrate users, especially those who require precision movement and placement of the cursor in their line of work.

Connectivity Options
You won’t find yourself shortchanged with the Eee PC 1000HE when it comes to connectivity, that’s for sure. On the right side of it you will find a 4-in-1 memory card reader, a couple of USB 2.0 ports and a VGA port just in case you are office bound and would want to work with a larger monitor. Too bad the 1000HE does not come with a VGA cable, so you’ll need to pick that up from a computer hardware shop somewhere else. As for left side of the netbook, you will find the third USB 2.0 port, a headphone and microphone jack, an Ethernet port and a Kensington lock slot. The back is free from ports or slots for a more aesthetically pleasing design, although we think this might not bode well for folks who prefer to plug in peripherals like mice from the back so that there will be more space available on the desk.

Battery Life
How does the Eee PC 1000HE stack up against the rest of the competition when it comes to battery life? After all, that is one of the main marketing points for the 1000HE, so that’s where we will begin. Well, they sure weren’t kidding by claiming it to be one of the longest lasting netbooks in the market as the 6-cell battery could last for up to 8 hours (in my experience anyways) without any wireless connectivity turned on and with a low screen brightness setting while running just a couple of programs like StarOffice and Notepad. This is phenomenal by previous netbook standards, and once you’re used to such long battery life, chances are you will be averse to other netbooks that won’t be able to outlast the 1000HE. There is a drawback to the 6-cell battery though – it means a heavier load to lug around, but by virtue of it being a netbook, you won’t breach the 2kg mark so don’t worry about burdening those shoulders of yours.

Conclusion
The Asus Eee PC 1000HE is a formidable netbook by its own accord, and it certainly is one of the better ones out there in the market currently. Apart from the phenomenally long battery life, other outstanding features are the digital array microphones for crystal clear communication, an integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam and an additional 10GB of free Eee Storage capability where you are able to access these files remotely from anywhere in the world – as long as there is an Internet connection. If only the display’s resolution could be improved upon. Overall an excellent choice for a first netbook. Just don’t expect too much out of its processor if you haven’t used a netbook before, as this is meant to be a machine that does well for casual Web surfing and office productivity software. Here’s a hat tip though – Firefox 3.0 runs much faster than Internet Explorer 7/8 on the Eee PC 1000HE (and any other machines for that matter, tee hee!).

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