At a glance, the Asus Eee PC 1005PE netbook is almost impossible to tell from the Eee PC 1005HA: same 10 inch case, same Fisher-Price plastic look. Underneath though, it’s rocking something netbooks have long needed: new hardware. Read on to find out if it’s a gamechanger in our Asus Eee PC 1005PE review.
Since 2008, almost every single netbook has been running off Intel’s low power Atom processor, with little sign of real innovation from anyone involved. It’s taken the best part of two years, but Intel finally has a new netbook Atom chip to put out, Pine Trail, which is faster and more power efficient, and the Asus Eee PC 1005PE is one of the first lucky benefactors.
So does it work? Yes and no. When it comes to real world performance, the new Intel Atom N450 1.66GHz processor’s speed increase is hardly visible. You’ll still find netbook performance under Windows 7 veering between bearable with Firefox and iTunes open, and then shockingly laggy just switching between tabs on Internet Explorer.
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The Asus Eee PC 1005PE model we tested however did admittedly only have 1GB of RAM, so tinkerers shouldn’t be put off, but we just didn’t notice any increase in power. It still struggled with HD Flash video clips, but loading them is near pointless anyway, since the Asus Eee PC 1005PE’s screen is still the low-res 1024×600 panel we’ve been seeing from Asus for almost two years now. Compared to the Nokia Booklet 3G’s 720p friendly display, it feels outdated.
That’s not to say the Asus Eee PC 1005PE’s build is all bad however: the island keyboard is firm, it feels far from flimsy and we still love that tapered look to the lid. The battery is also removable, which means longer life away from the mains, and the ability to carry a spare if you’re so inclined.
It’s here that the Asus Eee PC 1005PE shines. Because the new Intel chipset is more energy efficient, you will see an improvement in battery life over something like the already impressive 1005HA. We managed a full eight hours with Wi-Fi on, screen brightness up, web surfing and sporadic music and video playing. Dim the screen, and you can easily expect to watch movies non-stop on a European flight, or potentially even a trans-Atlantic one.
If you were hoping for a netbook that can comfortably stream HD video and power through Photoshop in the Asus Eee PC 1005PE, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Intel’s new Atom chip doesn’t suddenly make netbooks any more usable, but if you are looking for a couch surfing secondary machine, it does go for longer, and that’s just about enough.