AsusTek is the company that invented small and affordable notebooks that have also been called netbooks (a term that is currently under dispute). They have also been the most prolific producer of new models and there is more choice amongst their netbooks than any of the competitors'. Asus EeePC 1000HE, despite the easily missed addition of a single letter E, is one of the latest members in this family, and the first to attempt to solve the one single problem every EeePC has had until now: the anti-touch-typist right side Shift key. It also brings some other new things that we'll discuss in the following.
Design and layout
The main difference between 1000HE and the previous models is, indeed, the keyboard, which is now chiclet-style and there's a lot less flex to the keyboard than there was in the previous incarnations. Another major difference is the positioning of the Shift key, which is now on the left side of the Up arrow instead of right. In the old lay-out, it was very easy to press the Up arrow instead of the Shift if you were not paying extra attention (which you are not inclined to do when touch typing). Unfortunately, I must admit that even though I now hit the right Shift key better than I did with the previous setup, it is still far too easy to hit the Up arrow by mistake. I wonder why it takes this long for Asus to realise what the competing netbooks and all other laptops have done: displace the arrow keys down by a row, so that they are not intermixed with the rest of the keys, please!
There are 4 quick access keys between the keyboard and the display, who of which you can customise to launch any applications you may want to, while the others let you turn off the screen to save power or change the resolution of the screen. Our test model had the US type small Enter key which, to someone who's not used to it, makes it sometimes difficult to hit. The European models will have real Enter keys, however.
The touchpad is the crown jewel of the Asus netbooks, however, and it really brings the computer a head above the competition. The touchpad is very roomy and “widescreen”, the buttons are sensibly positioned under the pad and the multitouch really is something that you learn to respect. It just makes life so much easier when you don't have a mouse to maul.
To my dismay, I first started up the 1000HE to find an evaluation version of Windows 7 running on it. I dearly hope that Asus has not been bribed to completely forget their initial dedication to Linux (even though their Linux 'simplex' really was not my cup of tea) and that customers aren't forced to buy Windows 7 with their 1000HEs in Europe.
The specs of EeePC 1000H are: Intel Atom N280 processor running at 1.66GHz, 1024x600 10” display, 1024Mb system memory, 160GB HD and Intel Express 945 Chipset family. In addition, you get 3 USB ports, an MMC SD/HD card reader, Lan port, RGB port and the usual headphone/microphone plugs. The EeePC also has a 1.3 megapixel web camera, speakers and a stereo microphone built-in so you don't need any extra gear for making Skype video calls.