Etc.


— 11:00 AM on September 12, 2008

Howdy all. It's podcast recording day, so we're all gearing up for that. I'm going to play hooky from show prep for a second, though, to give you a flash review of the Eee PC 1000H that I ordered last week. As you may know, Asus cut the price on the 1000H over the weekend from $550 to just $450. I ordered at the higher price, and Newegg doesn't formally offer any sort of price protection, so ouch. However, I pulled up an online chat with their customer service folks and they promptly agreed—all while reminding me they don't offer price protection—to meet me part-way and refund 60 bucks. So my net price was under $500, at least.

This purchase was a bit of a shot in the dark for me. I had read Geoff's review of the Eee PC 1000 40G, of course, and I recently reviewed the 901 myself, but I'd never actually held a 1000 model in my own hands or used one. I very much liked the concept of the 1000H for several reasons, though.

In my 901 review, I complained about several aspects of that model, including the performance and capacity issues of the SSD. I really thought the 901 felt sluggish, like most netbooks, because of the cheap SSD, and I speculated that the 1000H, with its real hard disk drive, might be quicker. A lot of folks may not have a frame of reference for this, but I did, because I'd reviewed the same Atom processor in a desktop configuration and found it to be much, much snappier than the Eee PC 901—fast enough that for basic app use and web surfing in Windows, an Atom-based system didn't feel any slower than my quad-core desktop rig.

Turns out I was more right than I'd even hoped, really. The 1000H feels incredibly quick compared to the 901 and, if you didn't know any better, you might think it was a Pentium M or a Core 2 Duo. So long as you're not trying to decode highly compressed HD video or the like, the Atom is more than adequate as a web/net client, and the Seagate Momentus 5400.3 hard drive in the 1000H pulls this little CPU out of the quicksand and lets is meet its potential. In most places where the 901 is noticeably slow—loading up some web pages, installing apps, hibernating to disk—the 1000H feels every bit as quick as a full-sized laptop.

Gosh, what a huge step up. I'd hoped for something along these lines, but I got even more than I dared to hope.

On top of that, the rest of the 1000H formula works very well. The keyboard makes touch typing feasible and even comfortable. The screen is bright and crisp, and amazingly, Asus hasn't cursed the 1000H with the same grainy texture on the touchpad as the 901 we reviewed. As a result, the touchpad feels much more precise, and multi-touch scrolling is (wait for it!) creamy smooth. And the size, wow. Perfect.

The only real downside I've found so far a fairly noisy cooler. The blower whines quite a bit, even at its lowest speed, which makes the 1000H louder than most laptops. Judging by my experience with the 901, Geoff's with the 1000, and various online posts about the 1000H, I get the sense this is a bit of a gamble with these new Eee PCs. Many of them are quiet, but some whine a bit. I seem to have gotten a whiner.

Still, for the price and given everything, I'm mightily impressed by the 1000H. The size (teeny), battery life (6-8 hours), and connectivity options (802.11n, Bluetooth, and SDHC reader) make it exceptionally mobile, and with a real HDD, it's fast enough to do, well, mobile stuff without any annoyance. I can see paying more for a larger laptop for specific needs, but at 450 bucks, the 1000H ought to be exceptionally popular once people figure out what it is.

As I said the other day, I've already ordered a 2GB SO-DIMM and a Bluetooth mouse. Since the 1000H has a 2.5" bay for SATA mobile drives, my next move may be to order a real SSD to see how it performs. Not sure I will, but having the option presents some temptation.

   
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