I was selected to be one of a group of bloggers who’ll get the use of an ASUS Eee PC 1008 netbook for a year. This isn’t quite the typical netbook though, as this is a “Seashell Karim Rashid Edition” … and before you ask, no — I had never heard of Karim Rashid until I saw his name attached to this netbook. With that said, this is easily one of the most intriguing case designs I’ve ever seen.
The entire surface of the netbook is covered in Karim Rashid’s soft-touch “Techno-chic Digi-wave design”, and instead of being the type of shiny finger-print gathering plastic laptop case that I can’t stand, this one is similar to the soft-touch matte rubbery coating usually found on mobile phones. Its presence here is welcome. The wavy basket-weave design is quite attractive, and it’s available in a coffee brown or a hot pink finish. This netbook measures approximately 10″ wide x 7″ deep x 0.75″ thick, and it weighs about 2.5 pounds. It is surprisingly sturdy, and when handling the 1080P I haven’t noticed anything that seems cheap or loose; nothing appears to be waiting for an excuse to break off.
Included in the box are the laptop, a microfiber cloth, a recovery DVD, power brick / cable, user’s manual. The power connector and its brick are small and totally portable; there are thoughtful Velcro ties on the two sections of the power cord for stowing it neatly and compactly in your gearbag when it’s not needed.
This Eee PC came loaded with Windows 7 Starter, but an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium was included. The first time I powered up the netbook, it took at least a half hour to install the included Windows 7 upgrade along with the 40+ updates that were ready to download and install. The good news is that that was the last time I had to deal with such slow times. Shutting down and starting up from then on has been a relatively speedy process, and Windows 7 is a pleasure to use — even on such a small screen.
The front of the laptop is free of any ports or LED indicators; under the bottom lip there are two small speakers. There’s no slider, button, or other catch mechanism to keep the lid closed, and I like it like this.
|10.1″ LED Backlight WSVGA Screen (1024×600)|
|Intel CPU & Chipset||Intel® Atom™ N450|
|Memory||DDR2 SO-DIMM 2 GB|
|Wireless Data Network||WLAN 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
BluetoothV2.1 + EDR*
|Hybrid Storage||250GB/320GB 2.5” SATA2 HDD 5400rpm
500GB ASUS WebStorage*
*Complimentary one-year 500GB ASUS WebStorage trial. Please visit www.webstorage.com for more details. Specifications are subject to change without prior notice.
|Audio||Hi-Definition Audio CODEC
Digital Array Mic
|Input / Output||1 x Mini VGA Connector
2 x USB 2.0
1 x LAN RJ-45
2 x Audio Jack (Headphone / Mic-in)
Card Reader: MMC/SD(SDHC)
|Battery||Slim and eco-friendly Li-polymer battery, 6hrs*
*Operation lifetime subject to product model, normal usage conditions and configurations. For more information, please visit here. The estimated maximum battery life in Windows® 7 is measured with MobileMark® 2007.
|Dimensions||262mm (W) x 180mm (D) x 26.2mm (H)|
|Infusion||Hot Pink, Coffee Brown|
On the left side of the netbook there’s a power port on the end, mini VGA connector and USB ports hide under a swinging door, air vents for cooling and an MMC/SD(SDHC) card slot. I should mention that the mini VGA connector is likely there to save space, and since it’s not a common connection there is a clever mini VGA to VGA port dongle tucked into a compartment on the bottom of the laptop.
On the back side of the netbook there are LED indicators for battery charge and power; there is also another air vent tucked near the bottom.
On the right side there is a locking compartment that hides the removable battery pack. A swinging door hides a USB port, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack. A tiny swinging door hides the LAN port, which will likely be seldom used as the laptop has built in WiFi and Bluetooth. I have to say that I like these swinging doors; when shut they make the netbook seem finished and sleek.
The bottom of the netbook is just as pretty as the top, something rarely seen in Windows netbooks or laptops; and yes, I know there are exceptions, but they seem to be few and far between. Toward the bottom of this picture you can see the two speakers I mentioned previously, and on the left is the locking battery compartment. A VGA dongle is stored in the rectangular compartment near the hinge, the vented panel on the right covers the memory compartment, and four rubbery feet sit on each corner.
This netbook has a 10.1-inch display with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution (WSVGA); there’s no physical bezel around the glossy screen, which makes it look like a more expensive device. The 1.3 megapixel webcam is centered between an array microphone, which is supposed to give a “more clear and echo-free” result than a traditional single microphone.
The netbook’s multi-touch trackpad allows for two-finger zooming in and out, two-finger rotating, two-finger scrolling up and down or left and right, and three-finger page up or down. Similar to the last generation MacBook, there is a single click bar under the touchpad; unlike the smooth glass of the Mac’s touchpad, this one has lightly raised dots which give a nice sensation when my fingers are gliding over their surface.
The keyboard is smaller and more cramped than I am used to, but after a short adjustment period I decided that this wasn’t a problem. I really like the keyboard’s “chicklet-style” keys, and I appreciate that there isn’t a lot of travel on them; other than their size, they feel quite Mac-like. They give a satisfying click when pressed, but they aren’t the obnoxiously loud “I’m a PC” clacking keys found on some keyboards.
The 1008P only scores a 2.3 on the Windows 7 Experience Index, which will be a concern to anyone who wants to use this for netbook gaming or hardcore video or photo processing. So far my only real complaint is that the screen isn’t quite as high a resolution as I would like — at 1024 x 600 it just feels a bit cramped and HD video playback isn’t possible, but that’s not a deal-breaker — for me, anyway. Also not great is the battery life; it’s touted as being ~6 hours, but the best I have squeezed out so far is just a bit above three; we’ll see if that improves over time.
I am enjoying the generously sized 320GB hard drive and the 2GB RAM; I’ve found this laptop to be fantastic for pulling photos from an SD card, manipulating the photos in Picasa (which is my usual photo-editor), blogging, and listening to music stored on the hard drive. For casual blogging and surfing on the go, it’s perfect. I would be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy watching people’s reactions to the 1008P when they see it, too; it looks unlike any other laptop, and people want to touch it. Go figure.
Overall my experience so far has been positive, and while I think that at $499 retail this netbook is priced a little high for what it offers, I can’t say that the price surprises me. Just as the HP Vivienne Tam edition that I used in 2009 commanded a premium price at $699 retail, you can expect to pay a bit more for this Karim Rashid edition ASUS. But here’s the good news: I have been very pleasantly surprised by some of the discounted prices I’ve seen online — as low as $320 at B&H (for the 250GB and 1GB RAM version) or $445 at B&H for the same specs as this one. At that price, any complaints about it being “too much money for a netbook with these specs” kind of fall to the wayside, don’t they?
I’ll be using the ASUS Eee PC 1008P, or “brownie” as I’ve started calling it for obvious reasons, along with my other computers throughout the next year. I’ll let you know if any issues or cool things occur …