August 24, 2009

REVIEW: Asus Eee 1000HA

In 2007 we bought a Compaq Presario 714NR for our first laptop. In May, the power converter on the motherboard was fried when the power cord shorted out.

Although the laptop was useful, it left a few things to be desired. For starters, Vista Premium on a low end processor is not for those who are in a hurry. Even after shutting down all the fancy graphics and extraneous programs to speed it up, the machine was still just tolerable. To make matters worse, the battery barely lasted an hour, making portability very questionable.

As a result, I started looking at netbooks as a potential replacement. To me, the 9" machines didn't make much sense, just too small and too many compromises in the keyboards and readability of the screen. I also wanted to ensure there was plenty of battery life, if it was intended to be portable, then darn it I want to be able to use it away from a wall plug. Asus seems to be the only manufacturer taking battery life seriously (at least with out having to buy an extended battery), so I quickly decided they were the way to go.

After checking several websites I found the 1000HA at ZipZoomFly for $313.99 with a $30 mail in rebate & free shipping. The free shipping was rather slow, but it got here and what do you expect for free?

Setup was a breeze and the WinXP install has very little bloatware slowing it down or filling the hard drive. I'll say I have probably average sized hands and the keyboard is no problem for all but the very seldomly used keys. Enter & backspace fall just in the right locations which really make a big difference for my typing.

The touch pad is adequate, I do wish it was a little larger, but it's not a huge deal. Sensitivity seems fine, more comfortable than our previous laptop. The multi-touch feature works pretty well. Zoom is a bit frustrating to control, but scrolling works pretty well. I recommend using a thumb and pointer finger held together to operate the scroll feature. Using the pointer and middle finger results in lots of unintended zooming.

Battery life has been good. It's not the 7 hours claimed, but maybe 5 with wireless on continuously and not adjusting screen brightness or messing with the other power saving settings too much. I'm sure you could tweak out more if you needed to. The screen is small, but usable. Remember to use F11 to shrink firefox (or IE if you are still a slave to the man) to a streamlined header. It is definitely needed for some web pages to avoid a lot of up/down scrolling.

My only disappointment physically thus far is the quality of the power button. It just doesn't seem as solid as the rest of the machine. Software-wise, I was a bit disappointed that hibernate wasn't activated by default. For a machine focused on power savings, this seemed odd. Maybe the idea is that the quick boot time makes up for it? After using it for awhile hibernate is useful for short term shut down, but over night turning the machine off makes more sense. Windows just doesn't handle memory management well enough.

Performance has been decent, we use it almost entirely on battery so we are in power saver mode all the time. It runs about as good as our old laptop, so if we plugged it in and used performance mode, it would likely be impressive. An upgrade to 2Gig of memory would certainly help as well, and I will probably undertake the effort in due time. Keep in mind though that this is based almost exclusively on surfing the web. If you think you are going to edit pictures or play the latest video games, you will be very disappointed.

All in all, for a checking e-mail/surfing the web/light work sort of machine, I highly recommend the Eee 1000HA. If you plan to use it for more than that, I would recommend looking at a full laptop.