When it comes to netbooks, a lot of progress has been made in terms of design, usability, and performance. But for customers who want to spend the least amount possible, there haven’t been many compelling choices. That’s why we like the ASUS Eee PC 1001P. At $299, not only is this machine $50 to $100 less expensive than many netbooks, but it looks the part of a luxury netbook while lasting more than 8 hours on a charge. You give up some of the features of the more premium ASUS Eee PC 1005PE-P (Seashell), such as 802.11n wireless, but for those on a tight budget the 1001P is a very good choice.
Hailing from ASUS’ Seashell line, the 1001P looks practically identical to the 1005PE-P. Though less svelte than the inch-thick 1008HA, the 1001P has similar curved panels and a sharp look. Instead of a glossy lid that attracts fingerprints, the 1001P has a white lid (also available in black) with a textured checkerboard pattern of tiny concentric squares. This matte lid keep smudges at bay, and it makes the 1001P look more expensive than its price suggests. The same pattern extends onto the keyboard deck, which is also white; however, the bezel is still a glossy black.
The 1001P measures 10.3 x 7.0 x 1.4 inches— nearly the same footprint as the 1005PE-P. The 1001P is also a bit thicker than the Toshiba mini NB305-N410 (1.2 inches). At 2.8-pounds, this netbook didn’t put any strain on our shoulder when we tossed it in a messenger bag, even with the charger (which brings the entire package up to 3.4 pounds).
Keyboard and Touchpad
Unlike the 1005PE-P, the 1001P doesn’t have an island-style keyboard; rather, the keys (like those on the Dell Inspiron Mini 10) abut each other at the base, but are terraced and slightly smaller at the tops. While we didn't mind the 1005PE-P's keyboard, we found it a bit easier to type on the 1001P, especially given the relative size of netbook keyboards. More importantly, the right Shift key isn't shrunken (as on the 1005PE-P).
The white 2.5 x 1.4-inch touchpad is fairly easy to distinguish; while it sits flush with the deck, it lacks the same pattern. Instead of the braille-like dots found on the 1005PE-P, this touchpad has a matte surface that exhibited very little friction. As with other Eee PCs, the touchpad also supports multitouch gestures; using two fingers to pinch and zoom in on a Web page in Internet Explorer was easy, and the image quickly rendered in its new size.
ASUS equips the 1001P with a single mouse button. Unlike some netbooks we’ve tested, this implementation was comfortable for making selections around the desktop. However, we still prefer the Toshiba mini NB305’s larger touchpad and dedicated right and left buttons.
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Like the 1005PE-P, the 1001P kept its cool. After playing a video at full screen on Hulu for 15 minutes, the temperature between the G and H keys reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The touchpad was a temperate 91 degrees, and the center of the underside got as hot as 93 degrees; the bottom near the exhaust vent reached a rather hot 102 degrees. (We consider temperatures above 95 degrees unpleasant, and above 100 degrees just plain unacceptable.)
Display and Audio
The 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600-pixel LED-backlit display on the 1001P provided decent image quality. A streaming clip of How I Met Your Mother from CBS.com looked smooth, and colors were bright. Horizontal viewing angles were good, but to get the best picture you need to tilt the screen back about 30 degrees. When the display is at a right angle the image washes out.
From afar, the rather thick 0.8-inch glossy black bezel looked as if it was flush with the screen; up close, however, you could clearly make out the raised frame.
The speakers (located on the netbook’s bottom front edge) sounded somewhat soft when we streamed songs from Pandora, but they were no worse than the 1005PE-P. The Who's “Who Are You” came through quite tinny, even after we tinkered with the settings through the Realtek HD Audio Manager control panel.
Ports and Webcam
On the left side of the 1001P is a USB 2.0 port, a VGA port, and a Kensington lock slot. On the right side are a 3-in-1 memory card reader, an Ethernet port, two more USB 2.0 ports, and headphone and microphone jacks.
Above the display, the 0.3-megapixel webcam provided clear—if grainy—images; we detected little motion blur when we waved our hand quickly in front of the lens.
Click to enlargeConfigured with the 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N450 processor (Pine Trail), the 1001P offered performance similar to netbooks equipped with Atom’s last-generation processors. This Windows 7 Starter Edition system scored 1,384 on PCMark05, 82 points shy of the netbook category average.
When compared to other Windows 7 Starter Edition netbooks with older Atom processors, the 1001P ran in the middle of the pack, beating out the Samsung N140 (1,357) but falling well behind the Samsung N130 (1,514). The HP Mini 311, which packs an Intel Atom N270 chip and Windows XP Home Premium, managed 1,917. The 1001P scored 908 on Geekbench, which is about 50 points higher than the netbook average, and practically equal to the Dell Inspiron Mini 10.
Overall, the Eee PC 1001P held up well when performing everyday computing tasks. Conducting video calls over Skype while surfing the Web with multiple tabs open didn’t cause any system hang-ups. Most applications, like Internet Explorer and WordPad, opened rapidly.
The 1001P’s 160GB hard drive completed our LAPTOP Transfer Test, in which we copy a 4.97GB mixed-media folder, at a rate of 17.5 MBps, which is 1.3 MBps faster than the category average but 8.6 MBps slower than the 1005PE-P, which has a 5,400-rpm, 250GB hard drive.
Graphics and Video Performance
The Intel GMA 3150 integrated graphics chip delivered a score of 155 on 3DMark06, which falls about 70 points shy of the category average. A downloaded high-definition 720p video clip played back smoothly with no hiccups.
Like other Atom N450 netbooks, streaming video from the Web was decent, but not ideal; video stuttered occasionally at full screen. If you want to watch Flash content comfortably, get a netbook equipped with either an Nvidia Ion graphics chip (like the HP Mini 311) or Broadcom’s video accelerator (like certain configurations of the latest Dell Inspiron Mini 10).
We also transcoded a 5:05 MPEG-4 video clip (114MB) to the AVI format using Oxelon Media Converter; the Eee PC 1001P completed the task in 6 minutes and 2 seconds—approximately 10 seconds longer than the category average, but equal to the Toshiba mini NB305.
While it doesn’t achieve the epic 10-hours-and-36-minute battery life of the 1005PE-P (which has a 5800-mAh battery), the 1001P (which has a 4400-mAh battery) is no slouch when it comes to endurance, clocking in at 8:23 on the LAPTOP Battery Test. That’s almost three hours longer than the category average, but over half an hour short of the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA, and 40 minutes less than the Dell Inspiron Mini 10.
Unlike the 1005PE-P, the 1001P has an older 802.11b/g Wi-Fi card; the lack of N compatibility meant slightly slower throughput of 20.3 and 19.3 Mbps at 15 and 50 feet from our access point, respectively. Still, both speeds are about average (21.0 Mbps and 17.4 Mbps); streaming videos over YouTube (not at full screen) and listening to music over Pandora were seamless.
Express Gate Instant-On
Click to enlargeOn the upper left-hand side of the keyboard deck is a silver button that activates Express Gate, ASUS’ instant-on OS. This environment has options for an instant-messaging client, online games, photos, Skype, and the Web. The Splashtop Gaming portal lets you choose from a number of basic titles. The 1001P booted to the OS in 8 seconds; after configuring our wireless settings (a 30-second process), the browser launched in about 20 seconds.
Eee Docking Software
More than any other netbook maker to date, ASUS goes the farthest in providing software and utilities that add to a netbook’s utility as a second system. Most of the apps on the 1001P are accessible through the Eee Docking bar, which is centered along the top of the desktop (though you can change its placement in the Docking Setting menu within the Eee Tools menu).
The pull-down dock provides one-click access to four categories of Eee-branded software. The Eee Amuse button contains entertainment options such as ASUS @Vibe, a multimedia portal that contains Internet radio and TV stations. Once launched, it has five categories: Game, Learning, Magazine, Music, and Radio. Game features a number of simple action titles, from Alien Shooter to Chicken Invaders 3; Music, powered by Aupeo, lists several artist stations as well as genre and mood stations, and lets you play tracks and create a playlist of favorite tunes; and Radio lets you listen to FM radio stations from around the world.
Eee Sharing contains a shortcut to E-Cam, which launches comprehensive webcam software. Eee Xperience leads you to Eee Splendid, a tool for adjusting on-screen colors.
Eee Tools contains a system update utility, font resizing software, LocaleMe (navigation software with search powered by Bing), a link to system settings, and the dock settings menu.
Absent is a link to ASUS WebStorage (found on the 1005PE-P), which connects you to online backup. Also omitted are Data Sync (for syncing files with an external drive), EzMessenger (for transferring files between Eee PC netbooks), Eee Storage (an online storage system), and Voice Command (which lets you open applications with voice prompts).
ASUS’ standard SuperHybridEngine software for overclocking or underclocking comes with the netbook, as does Microsoft Works and Skype. Also included are trials for Trend Micro Security and Microsoft Office 2007.
The 1001P had one of the best scores when it came to our LAPTOP Battery Efficiency test. It took 2 hours and 15 minutes to charge the 1001P’s six-cell battery to 100 percent. The system used an average of 30.7 watts while charging. Its Battery Efficiency Rating (total watts divided by total battery life) was 8.2, less than half the netbook average of 17.5. (Lower is better.)
Configuration Options and Warranty
Those interested in increasing the RAM can easily remove the small cover on the bottom of the netbook and add a 2GB stick of RAM. Unlike the 1005PE-P, owners of this configuration won’t get 500GB of free online storage for one year. ASUS backs this netbook with a standard one-year limited warranty and 24/7 toll-free tech support. To see how ASUS fared on our Tech Support Showdown, click here.
In some respects, we like the $329 ASUS Eee PC 1001P better than the longer-lasting 1005PE-P, which costs $50 more. Not only does the 1001P pleasingly avoid fingerprints, but the keyboard feels larger, too. The $399 Toshiba mini NB305 may still be our favorite netbook overall, but if you can live with a smaller hard drive and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, you're getting a great bargain.