Asus Eee PC 1001P: Our Favorite Netbookby Vivek Gowri on March 16, 2010 11:30 PM EST
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In and Around the Asus Eee PC 1001P
As mentioned earlier, the 1001P shares its chassis design with the 1005PE. The textured finish is elegant, with small concentric squares patterned on the casing. The matte finish ensures that fingerprints don't appear, though the small ridges in the casing can collect and trap dust. On a white model like our evaluation unit, this is definitely a problem, since the white casing shows dust and could discolor easily, though that shouldn't matter if you go for the black model. The lone surface on the netbook that remains glossy is the black LCD bezel, present on both black and white models.
The Seashell design language has aged well, with the 1001P still looking fresh. In white, it is quite an attractive netbook, with the sleek lines and the eye-catching square pattern on the casing. The overall cohesiveness of the design gives the 1001P a polished feel, which is notably absent from some of its competitors and very nice to have in a $329 computer.
The bottom of the netbook features a panel for access to the single DDR2 SO-DIMM, allowing for painless memory upgrades. With only 1 memory slot, the 1001P maxes out at a disappointing 2GB of memory, though most netbooks will never be stressed enough to require more than that. Unfortunately, upgrading the hard drive is not such a straightforward process and requires a fair bit of (warranty-voiding) disassembly.
Overall, the build quality is quite good for a netbook, with solid plastic used all around. The palm rests are resistant to flex and the keyboard is firm, a rarity when it comes to budget netbooks. The lid is also very solid and doesn't bend easily. Putting pressure on the back of the screen shows no rippling on the LCD, meaning the screen and backlight are well protected. While no one would mistake this for the rugged ThinkPad of the netbook world (that'd be the ThinkPad X100e), the 1001P is definitely a well-built machine that should age well for a road warrior.
The 1001P uses the same keyboard as the old 1005HA. It is a standard style of keyboard, as opposed to the chiclet style keyboard in the new 1005PE. The 92% sized keys are very usable, and though you wouldn't want to type a novel on the Eee, it suffices in everyday usage. The keyboard can feel a bit cramped when switching between different notebooks, but adjusting to the smaller keys is fairly easy. The keyboard itself is a solid unit, with a standard layout and little to no noticeable flex. However, like the casing, discoloration of the keyboard over time is a concern.
The touchpad is a Synaptics multitouch unit. It works flawlessly, with dual finger scroll, pinch to zoom, three finger right click, and other customizable gestures. There is only one mouse button, a chrome piece that picks up fingerprints easily and acts as a rocker switch with both right and left clicks. The button's feedback is very shallow and quite loud, but works as expected, even without defined right and left buttons.
As far as ports go, the 1001P is very standard for netbook class, with three USB ports, one VGA output, Ethernet, headphone, line-in, and an SD card slot. An HDMI port is noticeably absent, but there are reasons for the omission. First, Atom Pineview CPUs support a maximum digital output of just 1366x768. Second, short of Next Generation ION, Atom N450 lacks the power to decode 1080p HD video, much less push the pixels on an HD display (which is why the HDMI output on NG-ION comes from the GPU rather than the IGP). In short, given the limitations of the GMA 3150 graphics in Pineview, it's pointless to include HDMI without adding a discrete GPU. The webcam and mic are well placed and work as advertised, with Skype users reporting clear audio and video quality from the 1001P.
The speakers are located on the bottom of the system near the front edge, and provide decent sound quality by netbook standards, though that isn't saying much. They're loud enough to hear music or hold a Skype conversation across a quiet room, but they're easily drowned out in noisy environments. As with any other small device, the speakers distort easily at high volumes and you shouldn't expect any bass response. While the built-in speakers suffice for basic usage and the occasional YouTube music video, a good set of headphones will likely get you a far more enjoyable auditory experience.