The netbook, the popular name for small, low-cost notebook computers, has come a long way since Asus (華碩) released the first Eee PC model in 2007. The Taiwanese manufacturer currently offers dozens of Eee PC netbooks, which are attracting a growing number of users who want something that can handle basic multimedia and Internet surfing and is easy to carry.
Asus is aiming for the fashion conscious with its first designer netbook, the Eee PC 1008P, which boasts an eye-catching exterior created by renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid. Retailing for around NT$19,000, you’re paying a little more for the looks of this Eee PC model, which boasts run-of-the-mill specs for a netbook: a 10.1-inch LED screen, Intel Atom N450 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 250 gigabyte hard drive.
Rashid’s outer casing is certainly unique. Available in a handsome matte brown color or hot pink, the exterior is made of a plastic material shaped in an intricate grid of ripples, which Asus refers to as a “techno-chic digi-wave” design.
This Eee PC is easy to grip and simply nice to hold. The surface feels smooth and the ripples are contoured to the fingertips. Despite the precise grid-like pattern, the casing almost feels handmade. Up close, it brings to mind the braids of a woven basket. More importantly, it feels solid and functional. There are no signs of flimsiness, and the overall shape of the laptop is clean and smooth, with nothing sticking out — consistent with Asus’ “seashell” line of Eee PCs. The two USB ports, SD card slot and the microphone, headphone and Ethernet jacks are hidden behind sturdy compartmental doors.
True to notebook form, the Eee PC 1008P is light and very portable. It’s the size of a large paperback book, weighs 1.1kg and measures 262mm wide, 180mm deep and 26.2mm at its thickest point. The laptop fits nicely into a large handbag or small messenger bag.
Typing was surprisingly good on this model. The chiclet keyboard is full-sized, but you’ll have to get used to some oddly shaped keys such as the oblong “Enter” button and shrunken “Shift” keys.
The nicely designed track pad sits flush with the surface, but the chrome track pad button is annoying: It’s stiff and emits a clicking noise. Overall, navigating was a so-so experience, as it is on most netbooks — there’s just not enough space for the track pad. Two finger-scrolling works fairly well, but there was a slight lag. The other multitouch functions felt awkward and unintuitive — I gave up trying to figure them out.
Performance-wise, the Eee PC 1008P does a reasonable job when it comes to surfing the Net, listening to music, watching video and editing documents. Internet Explorer was not blazingly fast, but it never dragged long enough for me to get up from my chair, even with three or four tabs open. It’s fast enough for word processing — I spent an hour typing my notes for this review on Microsoft Word and the only thing that bothered me was the small screen space. For video, Windows Media Player played the 720p HD trailer for Avatar without a hiccup, but the 1080p version was full of lags. I also made an hour-long video call on Skype, which worked perfectly.
Asus claims a battery life of six hours for the Eee PC 1008P. I managed around four hours with Wi-Fi constantly on and music playing while surfing the Web. If long battery life is your priority, then look to other similar models such as the Eee PC 1005HA, which clocks in more than six hours.