Asus Eee PC 1000 10in Linux netbook
The Eee family expands - literally
Review Asus missed a trick when it released the Eee PC 901: it didn't incorporate a bigger keyboard than the one on the Eee 701. Had it done so, there wouldn't perhaps be a need for the 1000.
Yes, the 1000 comes with a larger, 10.2in screen, but with the display's 1024 x 600 resolution matching that of the 8.9in panel built into the 901, and with an otherwise identical specification, what the bigger machine really brings you is nothing more than a more adult-friendly keyboard.
Asus' Eee PC 1000: just like the 901, only bigger
We'll look at how successful the expanded input device is in a moment. First, let's look at the 1000 in the round. It's identical to the 901, only larger, magnified to make room for the bigger screen and keyboard.
You can see from Register Hardware's Netbooks Spec Table that the 1000 is one of the larger 10.2in SCCs, coming in slightly longer, deeper and taller than its nearest rival, the MSI Wind - and it feels bigger when you carry it too. Cast a glance in its direction and you might mistake it for a 12in notebook.
Asus hasn't used the space to deliver more portage: there are still three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA out, a 10/100Mb/s Ethernet connector, SDHC card slot and analogue audio socketry. The chunky 6600mAH is the same capacity as the one on the smaller 901.
Larger chassis, but standard SCC spec
The other internals are much the same too: 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, 1GB of DDR 2 memory, Intel integrated graphics, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 1.3-megapixel webcam. The bigger box buys you a more solid-state storage: 40GB to the 901's 20GB, comprising an 8GB 'fast' SSD for the OS and apps, and 32GB of slower but cheaper storage for your data.
All of that means that your everyday computing experience will be the same on the 901 as it is on the 1000. The extra screen size only amounts to 1.3 inches and, as we say, the resolution's the same, so you won't get any more content onto it. But it does feel spacier, and we can see how some users might prefer it, especially those who might find themselves squinting at the 8.9in model.
The best Eee keyboard yet - but still one of the poorest netbook boards
Which brings us back to the... well... key difference: the keyboard. Just as the 901 delivered a slightly better typing experience than the Eee 900 did - and that, in turn, was nicer to type on than the 701 - the 1000 is a step forward. The keys may not be as big as those on a regular, 12in or larger laptop, but they're close enough. Like the keys on the 901, they're more rounded that those on the earlier Eees, and that makes for more rapid, less error-prone text entry.
What Asus hasn't improved on is the quality of the board itself: this one's just as rattly and cheap-feeling as the 901's board and with as much overall flex to it, too. Having used near full-size keyboards on the Wind and Acer Aspire One - the latter an 8.9in machine, don't forget - we have to say Asus is still well behind the others.
And even though Dell's idiosyncratic Inspiron Mini 9 keyboard is trickier to use than the 1000's, it feels like it has a better build quality. Asus definitely has some work to do here, as it's the Eee series' one major weakness.
One advantage of a bigger chassis is a bigger wrist-rest area, but Asus hasn't taken advantage of that to increase the touchpad size. Like the 901, the 1000 has a 67 x 37mm pad, again rimmed in brushed metal. It may just be us, but it seems as if Asus has smoothed out the rough texture it applied to the 901's touchpad. The texture's still there on the 1000, but it didn't feel so intrusive this time.
A familiar port array
Unlike other Eees, the 1000 line-up has entirely separate XP and Linux models. The 1000 is the Linux version, the 1000H the one with XP and a hard drive instead of an SSD. The 1000 again uses the Xandros version of Linux and presents the customary simplified UI. This provides access to all the essential apps - web browser, email, instant messaging, Skype and OpenOffice - but more are just a hack or two away.
In short, there's enough functionality here for 90 per cent of users, and nothing so tasking that the remaining ten per cent can't get what they want too. There's a big Eee user community now, and plenty of websites that offer guidance on customising the machines to your individual needs.
It's even easier for hardware tinkerers: there's a big hatch on the base of the 1000 that, when opened, reveals the 32GB SSD, the memory and the 802.11n Wi-Fi card. You can also see the main, 8GB SSD and the IDE interface points to which the connector is soldered for the 1000H's hard drive - the HDD sits in the same bay as the 32GB SSD, but at right angles to it.
No surprises on the right side, either
With the exception of the keyboard, the 1000 feels sturdy, and with its chrome-like details, it's not a bad looker, either. We're not fans of the pearl white model, or the shine applied to both this and the black 1000, but neither are offensive. Still, Asus could take a leaf out of other SCC makers' books and offer some alternative colours.
Our favourite remains the matte-black casing of our own Eee 701 - unlike the others, this was a colour scheme that lent the laptop gravitas.
For all that and the issue of the cheap-feeling keyboard, using the 1000 was no less a joy that working with any of the other SCCs we've tested. Xandros is one of the better netbook incarnations of Linux, and while open source OS buffs might prefer the up-front flexibility, functionality and power of, say, Ubuntu, at least with Xandros all the Eee's features work out of the box.
Shiny but not ugly
Some buyers may prefer the familiarity of Windows, especially if they need to run specific apps or hardware that lacks Linux support, but there can't be many of those. For the rest of us, Xandros provides a perfectly decent, functional computing experience.
As you can see from the results of our usual SCC-oriented Gimp test, the 1000 performs better than the 901 at all speed settings, suggesting it's benefited from a Bios tweak. That doesn't appear to have overly harmed the 1000's battery performance. It scored less well than the 901 did, but since it's still well ahead of rival SCCs, that's less of problem than you might at first think.
Time in seconds
Shorter bars are better
Asus' move to equip Atom-based Eees with a 6600mAh battery made a big difference to the desirability of the series against rival offerings. The 901 and 1000 deliver the best out-of-the-box battery experience, though will see how upcoming SCCs from Samsung, Toshiba and others challenge that.
Battery Life Results
Time in minutes
Longer bars are better
If battery life is your key consideration, your choice of SCC is really between the Eee 901 and the 1000. If it's the best keyboard that you need, you'll have to look elsewhere. In the round, though, the Eee line remains our pick of the SCC crop, and the 901 still holds our Editor's Choice award.
The 1000 doesn't take it because we've yet to be convinced of the value of a 10in screen and, more to the point, this is one pricey netbook. The 1000 will set you back around £369, rather more than rebranded Winds, like the Medion Akoya Mini and the Advent 4211 - and that's with the Windows tax taken into account too.
The Eee PC 1000 has a better keyboard than the 901, but so does the Aspire one, the MSI Wind and most other netbooks. The Wind also has a 10in screen, but it feels more compact than the 1000. Only 802.11n and Bluetooth separate it from the herd, and how truly necessary are they, especially when you're paying extra for them? Ditto the 40GB SSD.
No, if you want an Eee go for the 901, which is smaller and offers the same (market leading) battery life. If you must have a 10in SCC with plenty of storage, the Wind's the one.