After over 5 years of tough love, my 5 and a half year old Asus Z71V notebook video card died. Actually, it had died previously after around 3 and a half years of use and I ended up needing to replace both the video card and the motherboard since the motherboard ended up causing the video card to fail. After having gone through that experience once, I was not interested in going through it again. While my computer had served me well for the vast majority of its lifetime, it was getting old as computers go and I was hoping to upgrade within the next year or so anyway. However, I am a bit of a computer junkie and the prospect of being without a system for several months until I found a new notebook I deemed worthy was not pleasant. I’m very picky when it comes to electronics and finding the ideal system was likely to take a while. During that time, I would be moving to a different state and trying to find the first “real job” of my life. I can find information much easier with computers than I can by going through the telephone book and I also want to keep in touch with people via e-mail and Notebook Forums, so I decided a stopgap system was needed.
Bearing in mind that I would be unemployed after moving until I found a job, I decided to buy the cheapest computer possible. It also had to be highly mobile due to my moving situation. Those factors combined made me choose a netbook. I had a budget limit of $350, which was roughly what I paid to replace the video card and motherboard in the Z71V when they died 2 years ago.
I chose the Asus 1001P because I like the brand (I have had generally favorable experiences with my previous computer and Asus has a good reputation), I wanted something with a lot of battery life, the system received favorable reviews from Laptop Magazine and other publications, and the description indicated that the lid and palm rest were not shiny fingerprint magnets that would look bad if not constantly cleaned. I bought the notebook for $309 and a 2GB RAM module to upgrade it for $41, bringing my total to exactly my $350 limit.
Design & Build Quality
I’ve got to admit, the machine has style. It looks classy and does not have any awkward battery bulges like other netbooks do. The lid and palmrest are covered with a pattern of repeated concentric squares that is minimal enough to not be distracting if viewed at a distance. The pattern also provides a nice tacile feel when handling the netbook and it prevents unsightly fingerprints from accumulating. The screen bezel is unfortunately of a more shiny plastic, but thankfully it doesn’t need to be touched as much.
For those who have read my previous reviews, you will know that one of my pet peeves is lids that do not fully open, and the lid on this model does not open fully either. However, at least it does open to a somewhat reasonable 130 degree angle.
Build quality seems to be decent for a netbook. The keyboard has some noticeable flex and sufficient pressure on the back of the lid or twisting the top edge of the lid can cause pressure distortions in the LCD. However, I had to put a significant amount of pressure on the back of the lid before any distortions were visible. No distortions occurred when tapping or hitting the lid from behind. This means that the LCD is likely to break if you stood on the netbook, but it would probably not take any damage in a fall. However, even so, I’m not going to drop the computer for testing purposes. Shaking the computer vigorously with the screen at a 90 degree angle does cause it to change angles and wobble somewhat, but such wobbles are fairly minor and the lid stays in place at any angle when the computer is not being shaken. Also, I can hear some soft creaks when shaking the notebook and holding it by the front edge. Considering the price point of this system and the failures of more expensive systems to handle even this type of minor abuse, I am quite satisfied with the build quality. I would expect more durability from a more expensive system, but in general I can use the computer freely without being concerned that it might break. This is not something I could do with other netbooks I’ve used.
The 10” screen has a standard netbook resolution of 1024x600 and coming from a computer with a 1680x1050 screen, it took some getting used to. However, I found that despite its small resolution, the screen does seem to be capable of displaying enough of web pages and other applications to be useful. The only difficulties from the small resolution have been that some application windows have buttons at the bottom , which on this computer are hidden by the taskbar. Simple solution – auto-hide the taskbar! That makes viewing easier.
I also was pleasantly surprised to find that the screen has a matte surface, which means that I do not need to worry about reflections interfering with what I’m viewing . The screen is also fairly bright, which makes it easy to work with.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Asus advertises that the keyboard is 92% of standard size and it seems comfortable enough to type on. The only key that is noticeably smaller than the others is the tilde key, and since I don’t use ` or ~ all that often, it does not bother me. For those used to the control button being in the bottom left corner, it is exactly where you would expect it. The keyboard is of the standard style (not chiclet style) and the keys respond well and accurately.
The touchpad is somewhat of a disappointment. While it does support both single- and multi-touch controls, the sensitivity is difficult to adjust correctly and the edges of the relatively smooth touchpad can be easy to confuse with the patterned palmrest. The 1001P comes with a single rocker button which triggers left click by pushing on the left and right click by pushing on the right. Pushing near the middle does nothing. While some have found this setup to be annoying, I have not had trouble using it.
There are a total of 3 USB 2.0 ports: one on the left side and two on the right. The power cord is attached on the left side, and taking up the rest of the area there is a VGA port, Kensignton lock port, and the only output vent on the notebook. You do not want to block this vent! The right side has Ethernet, audio in and out, and a multi-card reader to join the previously mentioned USB ports. Please note that the audio out port for the 1001P does NOT support SPDIF. The front and back edges are bare of ports. I was disappointed about the lack of SPDIF but other than that, the 1001P has a standard array of connections and the layout was convenient.
If performance is your main concern, then stop reading here and look for something else. Netbooks are not powerful. This one took just over 4 minutes to complete the SuperPi 2M calculation and has a Windows Experience Index score of 2.4. At least the hard drive accesses data at a decent speed. It was measured at 64 MB/s average on HD Tune with a range of 37-81 MB/s. While I could throw a lot more benchmarks at it, it’s really not that much different performance-wise than any other netbook, so we’ll stop there.
The speakers are pretty quiet overall. They are loud enough if you’re in a fairly quiet room, but loud noises of any kind are likely to drown them out. External output was perfectly adequate to both headphones and a stereo. When an external audio device is plugged in, the computer automatically pops up a Realtek window that allows for adjustment of sound effects or EQ.
Heat and Noise
The 1001P has not yet gotten hotter than “warm” in the week since I have had it. The keyboard does not seem to heat up at all, and the palmrest stays quite comfortable. It is very comfortable to use in all situations without any fear of overheating or being too hot to the touch.
Regarding noise, the hard drive access is noticeable, although fairly soft. Also the fan gets somewhat load when it spins up. This can be somewhat of a concern when watching a video, since the relatively loud fan can easily make the relatively quiet speakers harder to hear. However, most of the time the fan makes a fairly soft whirring sound that is audible in a quiet room but not at all annoying.
Netbooks have come a long way since they were first introduced. And while those advances have not done a lot to make them more powerful, advances in battery life have been impressive. The 1001P has between 7-8 hours of battery life – so much time that I haven’t had the time to leave it running long enough to test it without needing to go somewhere. As a result, I used estimates from Windows and Battery Bar. You could literally take this netbook to work and use it all day without needing to plug it in. I find that very impressive.
The 1001P comes with Windows 7 Starter, which is a limited version with many features disabled. Since I had bought a Widows 7 upgrade, I upgraded to Windows 7 Home Premium and the experience is much improved. However, even with Windows 7 Starter, Asus provided some utilities that enable some of the aspects of more feature-rich versions of Windows 7. For instance, one of the limitations of Windows 7 Starter is that you cannot change backgrounds. However, Asus includes a utility that allows you to change backgrounds and run them as a slide show just like you can do in more feature-rich versions of Windows 7.
Of course, there is also some trialware installed. There are trial versions of Trend Micro security, Office 2007 Home & Student, and some games. All can and should be removed and replaced with your preferred antivirus, office program, and other programs. However, the trialware was fairly limited and the other software Asus provides is useful, especially with the limitations of Windows 7 Starter.
Overall, if you’re considering purchasing a netbook, I would put the Asus Eee PC 1001P on your short list. It looks good, is built well, has a very nice screen, and gets excellent battery life.
Buy one if…
You want to use your computer without worrying about fingerprints and reflections
You spend a lot of time away from an outlet
Take a pass if…
You need a powerful machine for gaming or other intensive apps
You’re an audiophile who wants to export music digitally to a 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround system