While the previous Asus Eee PC 1000 offered a solid netbook, Acer's Aspire One stole all the attention with its lean and incredibly affordable approach. With the latest incarnation of the Eee PC 1000, the "HE" might as well stand for "Holy Enhancement!" The Asus Eee PC 1000HE bears only a passing resemblance to last year's Eee PC, and improves upon just about everything from the keyboard to the CPU. Better yet, in addition to losing some unsightly girth, Asus also trimmed the US price to $400. We expect it to cost around £300 in the UK, although it's currently retailing at £500 online. Watch this space.

Let's take a quick tour around the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. The first, most obvious thing you'll spot is the cut-out keyboard. Just like you'd find on an Apple MacBook Air or on Sony VAIO laptops, the keys poke through the plastic, creating a wide gap between buttons. In that respect, this feels and looks great, and is generally more usable.

The Asus Eee PC 1000HE's trackpad is just spacious enough - we particularly like its metal framing and the few multitouch functions incorporated into the design. However, we found the pad slightly twitchy to control. No deal-breaker, but we noticed.

You also get a couple of handy shortcut buttons hovering along the top of the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. They do everything from give the CPU a speed boost (more on that below) and user-definable shortcuts to a screen resolution adaptor.

That is, you can view 1024-by-768 resolutions even though the native resolution of the Asus Eee PC 1000HE is 1024 by 600 - it's a special compression mode that Lenovo employs in the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 as well, and represents a convenience given that some applications default to a 1024-by-768-pixel resolution and won't work otherwise.

This Asus Eee PC 1000HE's 10.1in backlit LED display is bright and capable of good colour reproduction; its glossy coating helps the image pop a little more than you usually see on netbooks. However, the highly polished bezel that keeps the screen in place can get a little distracting at times.

A number of aerodynamic nips and tucks make this 266x191.2x28.5~38mm netbook just a hair thinner than the older, clunkier Eee PC 1000 we reviewed last year. It's also a little on the "heavy" side for a netbook, weighing 1.45kg. That's the price of strapping an 8700mAH battery to the bottom of this thing; Asus promises that the Asus Eee PC 1000HE will deliver 9.5 hours of performance.

Speaking of performance, the Asus Eee PC 1000HE is currently running our PC WorldBench 6 gauntlet and we don't have the results to share with you just yet (we'll update with those results when they're ready). What's interesting to note is that the Asus Eee PC 1000HE sports Intel's 1.66GHz Atom N280 CPU and we're curious to see how it'll do. For the sake of comparison, most of the netbooks that came out late last year used the N270 CPU, which runs at a lower frequency (1.6GHz) and a slower frontside bus speed (533MHz as compared with 667MHz in the N280).

The Asus Eee PC 1000HE comes with 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard disk drive, and 802.11b/g/n /Bluetooth wireless. Around the perimeter of chassis lies a fairly standard set of inputs, including three USB 2.0 ports.

The audio, as on the Eee PC 1000, sounds surprisingly strong for its size. But the Asus Eee PC 1000HE lacks a good subwoofer, so don't expect to rock a house party with this thing. Other notable features thrown into the mix: InterVideo WinDVD (which seems to be a little bit of overkill, we'd recommend you try out KMPlayer), and 18 months of 10GB of free online storage.


The Asus Eee PC 1000HE is a fairly solid - and sizable - jump over what's come out just a few months earlier, and is well worth a look.