The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM is the latest addition to Asus' burgeoning 10in Eee PC netbook range. Here's our review of this low-price laptop.
Not much has changed between the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM and its predecessors (Asus Eee PC 1018P and Asus Eee PC 1008P) but there's one important distinction. The Eee PC 1015PEM heralds Asus' first netbook to include Intel's dual-core Atom N550 1.5GHz processor.
Will N550's two cores prevail over older single-core Atom N450s? Let's find out...
Looks and design
Asus hasn't changed much in terms of the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM's look and feel compared to older Eee PC netbooks. Whether it's a 12in Eee PC 1215T or a 10in Eee PC 1018P, Asus prefers uniformity in its netbook's proportions, despite differing form factors.
To that effect, the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM continues in Asus' Seashell series of netbooks - the netbook bears a seashell design if looked at from the side with its lid closed. The netbook's bottom panel has a textured pattern.
Our review sample of the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM had an all-black colour scheme, with a smooth matte screen lid. The screen's finish is extended over to the 1015PEM's palmrest and touchpad, while the netbook's gloss is limited to its screen bezel and keyboard deck. Despite having a largely matt exterior, the Eee PC 1015PEM still attracts fingerprint smudges, mainly due to its dark colour.
Overall, the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM netbook's build quality is similar to the Dell Inspiron Mini 10, Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3 and Acer Aspire One D255, no problems at all. With a bundled six-cell battery, the 10in Asus Eee PC 1015PEM weighs 1.3kg - pretty good for a netbook.
The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM netbook has a 10.1in LED-backlit matte widescreen display with a 1024x600 pixel resolution, standard for a 10in netbook. The screen is very well lit and quite bright, contrast levels are nice as well. Viewing angles are average, but nothing to write home about. The netbook's screen is good for reading text thanks to its non-glossy screen, but watching movies isn't too bad indoors.
A standard webcam is placed on the Eee PC 1015PEM's top screen bezel - coupled with Cyberlink's YouCam software, videochats are fun.
The webcam comes with a sliding cover to protect itself from dust. A nice addition
Asus hasn't changed the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM's keyboard compared to older Eee PCs. The keyboard deck has chiclet-sized keys that are well laid out for its 10in form factor - typing is largely comfortable, with just a hint of flex on the 1015PEM's keyboard.
We reckon the IdeaPad S10-3 still has the best keyboard on a netbook, followed by the Dell Inspiron Mini 10.
There's nothing much to say about the Eee PC 1015PEM's touchpad - its haptic feedback is nice, owing to the smooth matte surface. The touchpad is gesture-enabled for zooming in and out, rotating and so on, and it works fine. The single-strip mouse button isn't as bad as the one we encountered on the Eee PC 1215T, and works surprisingly well.
The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM has one major difference compared to most 10in netbooks thronging the market currently. Instead of a 1.6GHz single-core Atom N450 chip, the Eee PC 1015PEM has a brand-new 1.5GHz dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor.
But don't get carried away with this addition; it definitely doesn't offer a quantum leap in performance compared to the older Atom N450 processor.
Apart from the new dual-core processor, the rest remains the same on the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM - 1GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, Intel GMA 3150 graphics is all mainstream in netbooks these days.
The netbook also comes with three USB ports, VGA, ethernet, a card reader slot and audio jacks. Wireless connectivity is accounted for with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. The Asus netbook comes with 32bit Windows 7 Starter Edition.
The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM also comes with some noteworthy extras: up to one year's free subscription for Asus' online web storage of 500GB, called AsusWebStorage.
Like previous Eee PCs, the Asus 1015PEM also has Express Gate quick boot OS - a stripped-down UI for basically browsing the web. I like the dedicated button near the left hinge of the Eee PC 1015PEM which lets you cycle through various battery plans and switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios.
The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM's dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor doesn't offer any great performance benefits, going by our slew of synthetic benchmarks. A WorldBench 6 score of 33 isn't any better or worse compared to single-core Atom N450-based netbooks.
The only significant change is perceptible while multitasking with different apps or programs. Working with up to three programs: browsing the web, listening to music, and working on Office docs, is a bit more smoother on the Eee PC 1015PEM compared to other netbooks.
The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM has its onboard speakers placed along the front edge of the netbook - the sound isn't very loud but its good, not great. Unfortunately, the dual-core processor doesn't boost the netbook's multimedia performance - the Eee PC 1015PEM still can't play 1080p video files, but playing HD 720p videos was just fine.
Unfortunately, the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM's six-cell battery lasted just 3 hours 25 minutes through our synthetic battery tests - that's a disappointing result. In real-world usage, on a conservative battery plan, we managed to squeeze out just over 7 hours of browsing the web over Wi-Fi - nothing close to the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM's claim of 10 hours of battery life.
The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM netbook sells for a price of £301. It's definitely not the cheapest netbook out there, but it's hardly expensive. The Eee PC 1015PEM packs in a dual-core Atom N550 processor and comes with some noteworthy features such as online storage, a quick-boot OS and a matte screen.
However, it only has 1GB of RAM, and its battery life is below par. More importantly, the dual-core Atom N550 doesn't offer any significant performance bump compared to the older single-core Atom N450 processor. Nonetheless, consider the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM for its features, if you're looking to buy a netbook right now.