ASUS Eee PC 1005PE: Pineview Arrivesby Jarred Walton on December 21, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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Inside the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE
As you might guess from the model name, the new ASUS 1005PE bears a striking resemblance to the 1005HA. Our particular test unit is blue instead of black this time, but it's still a fingerprint magnet. Without powering the system up, there is little to distinguish the 1005PE from the 1005HA. The ports and port locations are the same, as is the battery. You also get the bumpy touchpad with a rocker mouse button. We are okay with keeping things the same, provided they work well in the first place. Our only complaint with the 1005PE is the keyboard, which flexes a bit when typing and has a generally cheap feel. This wasn't something we noticed on the 1005HA, but perhaps using better keyboards on 11.6" netbooks has changed our expectations... or it might simply be a case of this being early hardware.
One of the things we wish ASUS would have kept the same is the LCD. It could simply be a case of panel lotteries giving us a good LCD on the 1005HA, but after booting up the 1005PE it was immediately apparent that the high contrast ratio we loved on the 1005HA is gone. Now not only do you get a highly reflective LCD with a low 1024x600 resolution, but the contrast ratio is 300:1 instead of 1150:1.
The only easily accessible expansion option on the 1005PE is the memory slot. Our test system comes equipped with a single 1GB DDR2 SO-DIMM, but other models will ship with a 2GB DIMM. If you wish to upgrade the hard drive, you'll need to go through a lengthier process where you disassemble the chassis in order to reach the HDD.
If you're already a fan of the ASUS Eee PC clamshell design, you'll be happy with the 1005PE. On the other hand, if you were hoping they would address a few of the shortcomings, you'll have to wait for the next revision - or perhaps look at one of the alternative Eee PC models like the ION-based 1201N.
Our full review of the 1201N will be completed shortly, but we can answer a few quick questions right now. First, the 1201N is significantly faster than any single-core Atom netbook thanks to the use of a dual-core Atom 330. Second, graphics are vastly superior to any of the Intel GMA options, including the GMA 4500MHD; the old GMA 950 and the "new" 3150 are less than half as powerful as the 4500MHD, which in turn is about one third as powerful as ION. Finally, dual-core Atom plus 9400M (aka ION) uses substantially more power than single-core Atom and a 945GSE or NM10 chipset.
Do you want more performance and a larger package, or do you prefer longer battery life? Those are the basic choices right now. We should also note that CULV (Core 2 Ultra Low Voltage) laptops like the Acer Timeline series can still achieve 8+ hours of battery life and offer graphics and CPU performance that is a big step up from even the new Atom N450. While 12+ hours of battery life is a lot more than 8 hours, you might decide that CULV lasts "long enough" as opposed to choosing Atom and "fast enough".