Asus Eee PC 1000HE Netbook Evaluation

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Mechanical Design and Exterior

Anyone remotely familiar with the Eee PC 1000H will be right at home with the 1000HE. Every aspect of this machine's external appearance is the same as its shorter-lasting cousin, save for the more polished access panel cover underneath (which we'll touch more on later). On the left side, you'll find a lock slot, a 10/100 Ethernet jack, a USB 2.0 port, a speaker grille, a line-in socket (3.5mm) and a headphone jack (also 3.5mm). In the front, you'll notice the edges of your left and mouse right buttons peeking out, alongside four LEDs that let you know if Wi-Fi / Bluetooth are turned in, if your HDD is actively seeking and if your AC adapter is plugged in.

      

Scanning to the right, you'll notice a 4-in-1 multi-format card reader, a pair of USB 2.0 ports side-by-side, a VGA output and the AC adapter input. As with the 1000H, the rear of the 1000HE is devoid of ports, with the high capacity battery  demanding most of that real estate. Opening the lid is as simple as prying the top from the bottom -- there aren't any magical latches or locks holding it together. We will say that prying the display up took more force than we imagined, making it practically impossible to open with just a single thumb and forefinger. The hinge was sturdy, and there was absolutely zero "wiggle" from the LCD panel. It stayed precisely where you put it, and it took deliberate force to relocate (that's a good thing).

      

The 1.3 megapixel webcam was unsurprisingly perched atop the LCD bezel, while the trackpad and buttons were planted dead center beneath the keyboard. Personally, we didn't much care for the very stiff left and right buttons; call us wimps, but they both required too much force for comfortable use. The trackpad, and specifically, the multi-touch gestures, was a joy to use. Though small, the pad is far from being the smallest we've seen on a netbook, and it was sensitive enough that we rarely found ourselves having to pick our fingers up, move to the opposite side, and continue swiping. The zoom in / out functions and the two-finger scrolling were perfectly implemented, and we greatly appreciated the ability to use gestures instead of having to revisit those sticky buttons time and time again.

A Welcomed Refinement In Keyboard Layout:
The new "Chiclet" keyboard is said to be 92 percent the size of a standard issue keyboard, and we believe it. Typing on this netbook was about as good as it gets; generally speaking, we detest typing on netbooks for any length of time, with the 'Shift' and 'Enter' keys causing the majority of the problems. We can say that we didn't miss the 'Shift' key a single time during our extensive typing test, which bodes well for anyone planning on using capital letters. Did it still feel small? Without a doubt. We never "forgot" that we were typing on a miniaturized keyboard, but we were also comfortable enough with it to not toss it across the room in a fit of frustration. You should know you're getting a smaller-than-normal keyboard when buying a netbook, but Asus has done a great job of almost getting that "full size" feel into the 1000HE.

      

At 3.2 pounds, this one won't weigh you down too badly. It still carries the bulk of its girth in the rear, while gradually getting thinner towards the mouse buttons. Looking straight on from the side, the 1000HE isn't what we would call "thin" (we're spoiled; we know), but it's perfectly acceptable given just how quiet this thing stays the majority of the time. It's a personal preference, but we'd rather the casing have a bit more breathing room in order to keep the fan noise to a minimum. Overall, the build quality here is top shelf for a sub-$400 computer. While you may expect to get something akin to a toy for $375, this feels just as solid as machines costing four and five times more. We have to say, we'd prefer the entire unit be matte black, as the glossy lid does nothing but attract fingerprints and make photographing the unit practically impossible. Jests aside, we wish Asus would have wrapped that matte finish on the bottom all the way to the lid. A minor quibble, but there it is.


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