Asus’s latest Eee PC is a beautiful, svelte netbook. But does its performance match the aluminium looks?
Things move fast in tech. You only have to look back to 2007 for Asus’s first netbook, and the start of the miniature laptop revolution. Fast-forward to the latter half of 2010, and the Eee brand is still going strong, as machines such as the excellent 1018P demonstrate.
It’s a smart-looking machine. The white Scrabble-tile keyboard is set against a background of machined aluminium, and has a solidity that belies the machine’s sub-£400 price. While not a match for the more expensive Nokia Booklet 3G, it doesn’t feel much less premium.
The textured white underside has little give, but it’s a slightly different story with the top. The screen has a fair amount of give when twisted, although we were happy to shove the 1018P’s miniature frame into a shoulder bag – at just 1kg you’ll hardly notice it’s there. Just beware the white finish, which predictably picks up scuffs rather easily.
Performance was delivered to our review model by the energy-sipping Intel Atom N455, running at 1.66GHz. We say ‘performance’, but predictably the Eee PC 1018P’s major sacrifice is the ability to run heavy-duty applications.
There's a minor delay in firing up an internet browser, for instance, and although we gave YouTube's HD channel multiple chances, it still stuttered while running full-screen 720p videos.
Still, it makes a reasonable fist of running Google Docs and relatively lightweight apps such as Skype, the latter helped along by the webcam hidden in the top of the bezel over the TFT.
The 10.1in screen is bright, if a little over glossy (good for impressing mates, less good for using the 1018P somewhere well-lit). And, while the 1,024x600 resolution doesn't give you acres of room, it's practical enough for Windows and bright enough to make watching carefully encoded, non-HD video enjoyable.
The good news is you’ll be able to watch until your eyes go square. In our battery tests the 1018P ran for 4 hours 35 minutes – certainly respectable, if not quite up to the 8-hour mark achieved by fellow Pinetrail netbooks like the Samsung N220.
You'll be able to shoehorn in plenty of video, too. Predictably, the 1018P's price doesn't allow for luxuries such as a solid-state drive (SSD), but 250GB of storage is more than enough for a machine that isn't really powerful enough to run top-end applications.
You also get Asus’s WebStorage, which provides 20GB of online storage. This can be upgraded to unlimited storage if you sign up to a premium account (from $5 a month).
The SSD isn't the only missing luxury – a built-in 3G connection would have been ideal. As it is, you'll have to supply your own dongle.
But there are very few drawbacks to this beauty of a netbook. It's not the fastest machine in the world but as long as you're realistic (it's unlikely Toy Story 4 will be rendered on a flotilla of Eee PCs), it works very well. We also like the cut-down, unfussy styling and exceptionally light weight.
Asus Eee PC 1018P review
A beautiful, superbly built netbook, but lower-priced rivals offer better performance and battery life