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Asus Eee PC 1001P (1001P-MU17-BK)

Tom's Definitive 10.1" Netbook Buyer's Guide: Fall 2010
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From the original developers of the netbook, we have the 1001P Eee PC in the lab. This is basically an upgrade of the Diamondville platform on the 1005HA model from a while back.

It may be daunting to figure out which netbook to buy if you’re looking at the Eee PC lineup. Of the Pineview-based Atom processors, we count at least seven different 10.1” Eee PC models currently on the Asus Web site. However, this doesn’t even include the long list of submodels. For example, our $299.99 1001P-MU17-BK comes with a matte screen and Windows 7 Starter, even though the 1001P is listed with a glossy screen (Color-Shine) and Windows XP. Oddly enough, we can pick up a slightly cheaper $279.99 1001PX from Best Buy that has the same specs, but adds 802.11n support.

You need to know there is very little difference between Eee PCs at the internal hardware level; in some cases they share the same motherboard just with different processors. In fact it seems that between the seven different models, there are three  motherboards designs.

The other differences between the submodels include:

  • chiclet vs. traditional keyboard
  • hard drive sizes
  • 802.11n or draft-n support
  • Bluetooth support
  • 1.3 vs. 0.3 MP webcam
  • DDR2 or DDR3
  • touchpad style
  • battery pack
  • glossy vs. anti-glare/reflective
  • case design
  • different OS
  • USB 3.0 support
  • Port options

The 1001P lies at the entry-level of the Eee PC lineup, and shares the same case design as the 1001PX. There has been a lot of fanfare over this design because it looks similar to carbon fiber. Asus has never actually claimed this is a carbon fiber design, but other people have, and it snowballed from there. We should make clear this is a “carbon fiber weave design.” It is molded ABS that gives the texture of a carbon fiber weave surface. However, it is not carbon fiber.

If you look at the weight specification of this notebook and the price, they don't add up to even a CF composite. That aside, the weave texture gives the 1001P an excellent surface for gripping and hiding fingerprints. It is also important we point out that this texture doesn’t extend throughout the entire system design. It is only found on the display lid and the palm rests. The display bezel is a piano black. while everything else is the matte finish.

The keyboard on this particular version of the 1001P is the standard keyboard with which Asus basically started the Eee PC line. It has solid back support from the tray so tactile feedback is uniform. Note all Eee PC keyboards are 92% keyboards, but the large size of the keys here helps in the constrained space. If you include the beveled edges, the keys are the same size as those found on the 93% keyboard of the AO521 and LT2120u.

The touchpad is fairly unique. This is what Asus considers its standard Eee PC touchpad, despite the fact that it is fairly integrated into the surface of the casing. If you examine it closely, it seems as if the entire section was fabricated as a single piece. The touchpad’s surface, though, can be identified by the fact that the rest of the chassis has the “carbon fiber weave design.” This is another multi-gesture touchpad that has good feedback, but we have a minor complaint about the button bar, which makes using the touchpad sometimes tricky.

There is a very thin (~1 mm) border of the “carbon fiber weave design” that separates the touchpad from the touchpad’s button bar. The outline, in our opinion, is too thin to serve any purpose. When you are doing drag and drop operations, you hardly notice it, and as a result you can unintentionally lose tracking. Ideally, it should be edge-to-edge here.

The single rocker-style button is made of plastic with a metallic finish that sits slightly recessed below the casing. Our main complaint comes from the very shallow click we get. Separate left- and right-click buttons (instead of a single rocker-style design) aren't necessarily better, but there has to be good click depression and feedback for the design to work. There is good strong feedback, but the degree that the button goes down seems low considering that it is already recessed. This is exactly what makes it hard to tell if you are making a left or right click, unless you are doing so at the very far ends of the bar. If you click near the middle, there are two possible outcomes: either nothing happens or you achieve a click on a single side, depending on the angle. This is part of our complaint, because there is nothing that clearly separates the functionality. It is a minor annoyance, but hopefully we see an improvement in future Eee PC designs.

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