FIRST LOOK: Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook with 9+ hour battery

It’s getting so that we’ll need a decoder ring to tell Asus’ Eee PC netbooks apart. The latest variant on the Eee PC 1000 series which sits in the ‘sweet spot’ of 10 inch screens is the $899 1000HE.

Bigger screen larger drives faster chips and cleaner lines…
by just about every measure the 1000HE  is a long way from the original Eee PC

But while the base spec is pretty much the same as its 1000H siblings – an Atom processor paired with 1GB of RAM a 160GB hard drive preloaded with Windows XP Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless etc etc.

If you travel with your netbook but like videochatting with your family or Significant Other
you’ll welcome the inclusion of a 1.3 megapixel webcam

The 1000HE’s claim to fame is a six cell battery rated at a whopping 8700 mAh. That’s almost twice the capacity of the six cell slabs available for many competing netbooks because Asus has boosted the capacity of each cell.

By comparison Acer’s six cell Aspire One battery is rated at 5300 mAh; MSI’s Wind can crank up to 5200 mAh; Lenovo offers a six cell 4800 mAh pack for the IdeaPad S10 (although it’s not yet available in Australia); and HP will soon sell a six cell battery for the Mini 1000 albeit one rated at a fairly meagre 2400 mAh.

Despite its high-capacity six cell battery the Eee PC 1000HE lacks that tell-tale’battery booty’

Jamming so much juicy junk into the 1000HE’s trunk makes this netbook good for up to 9.5 hours according to Asus – provided you switch the power-saving circuits into maximum battery life mode disable wireless kill the screen brightness and probably never touch the keys. In other words this is one minute step away from sitting in standby mode.

More realistic usage should still see the 1000HE eclipse seven hours which gets us into the realm of true all-day computing. We’ll put the 1000SE through some intensive day-long workouts in the coming week and let you know how it fares. The 1000HE also has Asus’ revamped ‘chiclet’-style keyboard which mimics that of the Apple MacBook.

In chasing a better netbook typing experience Asus apes Apple with the 1000GE’s chiclet-style keyboard

The other stand-out trait of the 1000HE is the powerplant. Asus will offer the 1000HE with a choice of the tried-and-true Atom N270 processor for $899 or Intel’s fresh-baked Atom N280 for $949. The difference? Not a lot actually.

The N280’s clock speed is as near as the same being 1.666GHz compared to the N270’s 1.6GHz (a whole 66MHz faster) – and yes it’s still single core.

The front size bus speed has been lifted from 533MHz to 667MHz (also no biggie) while total power consumption drops from 2.5 watts to an even 2 watts. So there’s not much in the way of extra performance but potentially there’s room for a little less heat and a little extra battery life.

The N280 makes more sense when partnered with Intel’s new GN40 graphics chipset a fresh-baked replacement for the ‘just good enough’ 945GSE silicon which has been the N270’s mate to date. The GN40 is a pared-down version of the notebook-class GL40 which in turn uses Intel’s GMA X4500HD graphics to deliver hardware-based 720p HD decoding.

Unfortunately the Eee PC 1000HE is still fitted with the 945GSE chipset but Asus already has a GN40-equipped netbooks on the roadmap – it’s the 1004DN which was previewed at January’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.

The 1004DN also includes an ExpressCard slot and an inbuilt CD/DVD drive so this one will further blur the lines between netbooks and notebooks to the point where you’d have to squint to notice any difference. Alas there’s been no announcement on local availability of the 1004DN.

The 1000HE will be available in ebony and ivory (“mobile computing in perfect harmony” etc)