Ever since the Eee PC 4G opened up the mini-notebook market last year, Asus has been pumping out different flavors of the Eee, including versions of the original with XP and models sporting slightly larger screens and a multitouch pad. With the US$460 Eee 1000H 80G XP, though, Asus addresses many of the previous problems we've had with earlier mini-notebook models--and it creates a solid second-gen machine in the process.
The newest member of the Eee family offers the same Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and 80GB hard disk as MSI's Wind NB U100. It has a 10-inch display and measures 10.5 by 7.5 by 1.5 inches (about the size of a hardcover book, and only slightly larger than the MSI Wind). The Eee 1000H is also fairly heavy for a mini-notebook, weighing about 3.6 pounds including the six-cell battery packed underneath. (On the plus side, the battery lasted about 4 hours, 32 minutes in our tests.) With the Eee 1000H's design the way it is, you might as well call it an ultraportable--in heft, if not performance.
The Atom processor may be passable for last-gen apps and small devices, but it's downright mopey if you're hoping to run Vista. And it isn't exactly a speed demon in XP, either: On our WorldBench 6 tests, the Eee 1000H received a score of 37, a point higher than MSI's Wind got. For the most part, though, this model's performance is consistent for what we're finding with XP-based mini-notebooks running an Atom processor and 1GB of RAM.
One thing that sets the Eee 1000H apart from the other mini-notebooks we've seen is its spacious, comfortable keyboard. I'd probably put it on a par with what you'd expect to find on a full-featured ultraportable laptop. The keyboard, coupled with an array of useful shortcut keys, makes this mini-notebook very easy to use. One key turns off the monitor, another switches the resolutions, the third changes the performance settings, and the last is user configurable. And the keys aren't the only things that work well: The touchpad offers a sensual feel and is fluidly responsive, and the mouse buttons are firm, metallic, and well mounted.
The display's native 1024 by 600 resolution looks reasonably sharp on the 10-inch screen. With a quick toggle of the shortcut key, you can pop through a number of "optimized" resolutions. The only real use I've found for the resolution gear-shifter is that it's helpful for trying to fit some oddly formatted Web pages to the screen; otherwise, you can always output video through the VGA port. A firm, flush bezel surrounding the screen and the 1.3-megapixel camera securely locks everything in place. The case has a smooth yet slightly textured feel.
Surprisingly, the Eee 1000H's audio sounded crisp, and richer than I had expected. Maybe that's the result of Dolby Sound Room technology (which Dolby says extends the speakers' bass response up an octave, and widens the sound space that the speakers project). Elvis's "Suspicious Minds" rang clear; Run DMC's "Walk This Way" sounded a little tinny, but good enough that I was able to forgo plugging in headphones. I'd even say that the Eee 1000H can fill up a small room (or office cubicle) with tunes.
One other unexpected twist: Asus preinstalls some handy software, including Microsoft Works, StarOffice, and Skype.
In other respects, the Eee 1000H provides exactly what you might expect from a mini-notebook in expandability and layout. It includes three USB ports, an SD Card slot, VGA-out, headphone/microphone jacks, and an ethernet jack.
I liked the thorough manual, too. It's funny, really: Many makers of high-end notebooks don't even bother--simply tossing a PDF in the box--and yet this well-laid-out book covers all the bases.
Asus' Eee 1000H is among the leaders in the mini-notebook market. This model offers a sizable keyboard, a solid screen, and a clean and comfortable layout, just beating out the MSI Wind. Buyers beware, however: It's a device that's roughly the size of an ultraportable yet has half an ultraportable's power (albeit at more than half an ultraportable's price).