At first glance, the Asus N10J seems like a make-over of the Asus Eee PC 1000H 80G XP, albeit with some superior components and design. It strays very close to ultraportable notebook territory, bearing a price that's inexpensive for an ultraportable; but steep for a mini-notebook.
The Asus N10J's first point of differentiation from rank-and-file minis is that it includes a discrete graphics card, a nVidia's GeForce 9300M GS, making the N10J the first netbook we've seen with that lets users toggle between discrete GPU and the integrated graphics on the motherboard.
For our evaluations of performance, we ran the N10J in high-performance mode. At that setting, it earned a WorldBench 6 mark of 36, earning it a place at the top-end of current Atom mini-notebooks.
The Asus N10J offers two battery-use modes - high-performance and power-saving. In high-performance mode, the Asus N10J held out for 3 hours, 40 minutes. In its power-saving mode, the Asus N10J stayed true to its word, and chugged along for a good five hours, three minutes
This model proves that machines of this class don't have to look like cheap toys. In its design, for instance, the N10J more closely resembles a full-fledged notebook than any of the Eee PCs before it. It may not have the sleek lines of the HP Mini 1000, but it has plenty of polish.
At its native 1024x600 resolution, the Asus N10J's 10.2in screen looks crisp, bright, and manageable. The glossy panel treatment helps visuals, but severely exacerbates glare. Worse, the unusually large and reflective black bezel that frames the display proves even more distracting than the glare from the screen.
Big, fingertip-size keys have just the right amount of give and spacing. In terms of feel, the Asus N10J usurps the Eee 1000H, and is just a hair behind the HP Mini 1000. Two useful shortcut buttons sit atop the keyboard - one of them acting as a magnifier, the other for preset access to seven optimized performance and battery settings.
The touchpad and metallic mouse buttons, too, deserve praise. Buttons are of good size and are well-spaced, given the small amount of surface area available. Sitting between the two clickers is a fingerprint reader.
Asus even squeezes in a ExpressCard/34 slot and an HDMI port. Built-in Altec Lansing-branded speakers nestle under the unit, sounding a bit tinnier than we’d hoped from this name brand.
The Asus N10J succeeds in many ways, but its price may prompt you to consider whether you'd be better off to plump for the fully featued, all-purpose laptop with an optical drive.