For the increased outlay, however, you get several extra features. The extra inch of size allows for a wider, fuller keyboard – at 254mm it’s a centimetre or so wider than that of the Wind, and the difference is notable. Typing is as comfortable as on any good ultraportable, with decent travel and a layout that left us with just one major gripe – the tiny and poorly placed right Shift key.
The mouse buttons are of the same silver surround as the Eee PC 901, and they’re equally stiff and clicky – as with the 901, they take a bit of getting used to. The trackpad is wide and pleasantly responsive, though, with just the right level of roughness to give grip beneath your fingertips.
The 10in screen shares the same 1024 x 600 resolution as the Wind, and there’s generally not much to choose between them. The display is both clear and sharp, with ample brightness and a surface that shows up equally well in dark and brightly lit environments. The 1.3-megapixel webcam sits in the frame above it, and the lid is just as sturdy as the 901’s, and just as bland to look at – where are all the colours we were originally promised?
The draft-n wireless introduced in the 901 is present here too, but it’s in hard disk capacity that the 1000H makes the biggest leap forward. Gone are the 12GB and 20GB SSD storage options; instead we now get an 80GB hard disk with the XP version, although 160GB models will be available soon. If you opt for Linux you can get an additional 1GB of RAM over the XP version, bringing it to 2GB total.
The rest of the specification remains the same: three USB ports, 10/100 ethernet, Bluetooth and a card reader for SD, MMC and SDHC formats. The combination of 1GB of RAM and a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor propelled the Asus to the expected score of 0.31 in our benchmarks – matching all its main rivals – and the battery returned an impressive six hours of light use before running dry.
The power drivers switch sensibly between saving energy and boosting performance where necessary, something we’ve yet to see implemented well in any other netbook. Asus is merely tweaking the weaknesses with each release, and the Eee is looking more mature all the time.
So does the Eee PC 1000H put Asus back on top of the netbook world? Unless you plan to stick near power outlets at all times, the superb battery life of the Eee certainly gives it the clear edge over the MSI Wind, which only lasts for two and a half hours. But with MSI rumoured to be releasing a six-cell battery, which will bring those two challengers in line with the Eee in terms of both longevity and price, the contest may ultimately become one purely of design preference.
The debate has largely split the PC Authority office, because both laptops have their strengths. The Eee is undoubtedly more solid and well-built, with a wider, more usable touchpad and separate mouse buttons. The slightly larger keyboard is a bonus, but its tiny Shift key soon annoyed us.
By contrast, the Wind keyboard is comfortable to type on and well laid out, and the VAIO-style hinge on the lid makes them sleeker and better looking than the Eee. Shaving a centimetre or so off the size also makes the Wind a more portable device, although the bigger battery will most likely negate this advantage.
It’s a very close call, and we didn’t really think we’d be saying this, but the 1000H is the best Eee PC – and the best all-round netbook – we’ve yet seen. With every size and price increase, we moan about the Eee moving away from its roots as an ultra-cheap netbook, but the simple truth is you really do notice every extra inch each revision adds, and the benefits that go with it.
Draft-n wireless and some great power-saving tools give the 1000H a maturity and polish that its younger rivals don’t yet offer, so until MSI releases its next, improved offering, we find ourselves pledging our allegiance to the biggest brother of the Asus
Yes, it’s bigger and dearer than ever, but it’s also the most usable and well-made Eee PC yet.
• ASUS: www.ow.com.au
• Price: $745 • CPU model/brand: Intel Atom • CPU speed: 1.6Ghz • Memory capacity: 1GB • Hard drive capacity: 80GB • Internal optical drive: NA • Graphics type: Integrated • Graphics: GMA 950 • Screen size: 10" • Screen resolution: 1024 x 600 TFT • Weight: 1.45kg • Dimensions WDH: 266 x 191 x 45mm • Battery type (cells): 6 cells • Ethernet: Yes • Wi-Fi: Yes • Bluetooth ports: Bluetooth 2.0 • USB ports: 3 • Memory card reader: MMC/SD (SDHC) • Operating system: Windows XP • Manufacturer: Asus • Supplier: Asus