The wait is finally over for the Eee PC 1000, a laptop that promises to slay all that enters into the netbook arena. It's the most well-equipped -- and largest -- in the Eee series and has cast aside the usability shackles of its diminutive predecessors.
It's available in two flavours: a Windows XP model for £349 and a Linux model for £369, each of which have a slightly different specification. Could this be the perfect balance between portability and function? Or has Asus lost its way on the path to netbook nirvana?
The Eee PC 1000 has much in common with the Eee PC 901. It's got the same shiny, metallic hinges and a curvy-edged lid. Currently, it's only available in one colour -- glossy black -- but we'd be surprised if Asus doesn't release a white version and other subsequent hues in the near future.
The Eee PC 1000 is the largest mini laptop we've come across. Its 225 by 170 by 20mm chassis is a few millimetres wider and deeper than an MSI Wind, but we don't have too much of an issue with this; it's still very portable. What we do have a problem with is the Eee PC 1000's weight -- 1.45kg with the standard 6,600mAh battery. Even without the battery, it tips the scales at nearly 1.1kg, which is what the MSI Wind weighs with its standard 2,200mAh power cell. To say Asus has screwed up in this area would be an understatement.
The extra weight and larger than normal size places the Eee PC 1000 in unusual territory. It's no longer a 'netbook', in our opinion, but is more like an ultraportable laptop in the same vein as a Sony Vaio TZ series. There's nothing wrong with this, per se -- ultraportables typically cost well over £1,000 -- but Eee PC purists may cry foul.
One thing the purists can't complain about is the 1000's usability. It's the easiest to use on a daily basis of all the Eee PCs and its assorted rivals. The keyboard in particular is wonderful. Sure, our review sample felt clunky, but Asus says it'll iron this out for final machines. The right shift key is way too small at the expense of full-size cursor keys, but aside from this it's the best keyboard on any machine in its category.
The mouse track pad is fantastic. Unlike its rivals, it supports multi-touch gesture inputs, so you can stroke two fingers vertically or horizontally to scroll through documents or use a pinch or stretching motion to zoom in and out of photos. This feature is perfect in a machine for which its primary use is surfing the Internet. It just makes life so much easier.
The rest of the chassis is basically identical to the Eee PC 901. On the left side, there's an Ethernet port, a single USB port, plus mic and headphone ports. On the right, there are two additional USB ports, an SD card reader and a VGA output port.
There are few surprises inside the machine -- particularly if you've been following our coverage of the Eee PC 1000 for the past few months. It uses a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, plus 1GB of DDR memory -- much like the Eee PC 900, Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind.
Asus is releasing two versions of the 1000, as it did with the 901, 900 and 701. The £369 Eee PC 1000-BK002 ships with Linux and 40GB of solid-state storage and the £349 Eee PC 1000H-BK007X uses an 80GB mechanical drive and Windows XP. Notably, this is the first time in Eee history that the Windows XP model has had more storage than the Linux model and the first time there has been a price difference between the two versions.
In the past, we've always recommended buying the Linux version of Eee PCs since they've traditionally had more storage space. But in the case of the Eee PC 1000, we'd say the Windows XP model is the one to go for, especially if you want to pay less money and get an extra 40GB of storage space. The Linux model isn't a dud, though -- we'd recommend it to anyone who's accident prone, as its less susceptible to data loss as a result of sudden impacts.