I have been looking and tracking netbooks for several weeks as I travel a lot and have been seriously considering getting something smaller to tote around besides my 2 year old Gateway MX6455. I searched and scoured the web for any info about these devices to see what it might be like to own and use one.

Well the opportunity came up the other day to make the purchase and I decided on the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE 10-Inch Netbook manufactured by ASUS and being sold by Amazon.com.

In fact, Amazon played a big role in my decision because there are some very solid reviews about this device and it certainly is a good sign when only 15 reviews are 3 stars or less out of almost 270! 209 were 5 stars and 44 were 4 stars (that is as of this post).  To me that is an overwhelming endorsement from those who bought this. I was sold and had the ASUS overnighted and it arrived yesterday (Thursday 9 Apr 09).

The specs on this fancy little machine:

  • 10-inch LED-backlit widescreen LCD (1024×600)
  • 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N280 Processor
  • 1 GB RAM (which I upgraded to 2 GB as suggested by many of the reviews at Amazon.com)
  • 160 GB Hard Drive (partitioned into 3 drives – 82 GB for Windows XP Home, 61 GB empty and 5 GB restore partition)
  • 10 GB Eee Storage
  • 2-in-1 MMC and SD(SDHC) flash card slot
  • 1.3 megapixels webcam built in
  • WLAN: 802.11b/g/n
  • Build-in stereo speakers, high-definition audio CODEC, Digital Array Microphones
  • 1 x VGA port (D-sub 15-pin for external monitor), 3 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x LAN RJ-45, 2 x audio jacks: headphone & mic-in
  • Bluetooth V2.0
  • Windows XP Home
  • Up to 9.5 Hours Battery Life; 8700mAh
  • Blue Metallic Color

So of course the first thing to do is unbox it.  The box was light and small as would be expected for a netbook weighing only 3.2 pounds:

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After getting everything checked out and setup I started the setup of Windows XP Home Edition.  Ahh such sweet memories – it has been a very long time since I have stared Windows XP Home down!  Networking is still a challenge with XP Home even on a netbook.

The OOBE is very similar to anything you will see on a desktop or laptop PC so no news there:

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Now – Windows XP Home is a fine system – but like I said – it has been so long since I worked in it that I knew I was not staying with that very long. So I broke out my Windows Beta 1 DVD and upgraded to Windows 7.

Wait though – there was one small issue – netbooks do not have CD or DVD ROM drives.  So after a quick search online I found a few different methods to upgrade the netbook (actually to install a dual boot between Windows 7 and Windows XP Home Edition.

I used this method written up by the Technicist as the basis for doing the upgrade install and creating the dual boot.  I did not have to do anything partition related because there was already an empty partition to use for Windows 7.

I used a 60 GB Western Digital USB Hard Drive and created a 10 GB partition on it then made it the primary and active partition using Windows Disk Management Console.  I then copied all of the Windows 7 DVD files to that partition. All of this I did on my desktop Windows Vista install.

I then unplugged the drive and plugged it into the netbook.  I then had to go into the ASUS bios and set the system to boot off a removable USB device.  After saving and exiting the bios setup the netbook restarted and it picked up the bootable USB device and started the Windows 7 installation:

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Note: Remember to unplug the hard drive during the first reboot or you will see the install process start all over again.

Setup of Windows 7 took about 40 minutes total.  Compared to my desktop it was only about 15 minutes longer.  After everything was done and I was in Windows 7 only two devices unrecognized or needing drivers.  One was the ACPI driver – it showed up as unknown in Device Manager and the other was the Atheros LAN adapter.  I grabbed both driver files (Windows XP versions) from the ASUS Support website and installed them in Windows 7 without a problem.

In the process of getting all my typical software installed I put the Windows Home Server (WHS) Connector software on the system so it will get backed up each night.  That itself was not a problem but it got me thinking about restoring the netbook in case of any issues – one of the bennies of having WHS running in the house.  See the rub is that WHS uses a CD-ROM based recovery. You boot from the WHS Recovery CD and restore your drive image.  Without a CD-ROM in the netbook this presents a problem.  However, using the same principles as I did for installing Windows 7 I think I can set up the Western Digital USB Drive with the WHS Recovery CD files and boot to it to do the restore.  I guess that is a subject for another blog post.

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Check out the difference between my 15.4 inch Gateway MX6455 (now the wife’s laptop) and the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE 10-Inch Netbook. The ASUS also beats the Gateway by weight as well 3.2 lbs for the ASUS compared to 6.5 lbs for the Gateway.

Now lets talk a little about the experience of using the netbook (and this is based off 24 hours of use so far).

  • Fingerprint Magnet – a lot of the reviews at Amazon mentioned this. The system came with a nice cloth and carry case to help out with it.  No show stopper at all.
  • Keyboard is 92% of full size.  It is taken some getting used to but it is not undoable.  Reviewers mentioned the movement of the Right Shift key to its “proper” position left of the arrow keys.  Works for me.
  • Battery life – I have only been through one cycle so far but it is very impressive.  When 10% is left and you still have 40 minutes of time left that will do me just fine.
  • Windows XP Home – it ran just fine with the netbook and ASUS had provided all the software necessary to manage the system from power to multi-touch.  Windows 7 has all of that built in and required no additional software to have multi-touch functionality.  Color me impressed.
  • The screen is vibrant and clear. It is a backlit LCD screen and it just pops out at you whether your on battery on a reduced setting or plugged in and charging.
  • Program scaling. The resolution on the ASUS is 1024 x 600. Everything I have run so far, with one exception,has scaled perfectly to work within that resolution.  Unfortunately, the one exception was blu – the WPF Twitter client. The program runs just fine but the entire bottom half of the Window where all the interaction is with your timeline is on-existent.  I can still scroll the tweets on that tab but that is it.

Those are just a few items for me and I am sure as I move beyond the 24 hour mark I will find other plusses – and yes – most likely some negatives as well.  However, at this point I am very impressed and would recommend this system to anyone looking for an alternative to a full size laptop.

I am really looking forward to my first road trip with the 1000HE and being able to put it through its road paces.