4 Mini-laptops: Which Is Best?

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Asus Eee PC 1000

Asus started the inexpensive mini-notebook party a year ago with the $400 Eee PC 701, but not content to leave well enough alone, the company upsized the system, releasing the $550 Eee PC 900 in May. Now we have the Eee PC 1000, which to my thinking goes too far, is too big and -- at $600 -- is too expensive.

Easily the largest and heaviest of the bunch, the wedge-shaped Eee PC 1000 is 1.2 inches thick in the front and 1.5 inches thick in the back. Its 10.4-by-7.5-in. footprint is more than an inch longer than the G Netbook. It weighs 2.9 pounds -- nearly a pound heavier than the G Netbook -- and with its AC adapter, the Eee PC 1000 has a travel weight of 3.3 pounds. It comes with a padded case.

The Eee PC 1000's specs match that of the Aspire One almost perfectly with a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of system memory. But its solid-state flash memory can hold 40GB of data, files and programs, five times that of the Aspire One. Plus, the company includes 20GB of free online storage for archives, backups, and the flotsam and jetsam of a digital life.

At a Glance

Eee PC 1000

AsusTek Computer Inc.

Price (as tested): $600

Pros: Large screen, good performance/battery life, padded case

Cons: Expensive, heaviest in class

Bigger can be better, and the 10-in. display provides nearly double the viewable space that the G Netbook's 7-in. screen does. Its 1024-by-600 resolution matches that of the 2133 and Aspire One, although the Eee PC 1000's display looks dull and dim by comparison. It's got a high-resolution webcam above the display.

As with the others, there's no modem, but the Eee PC 1000 can get online with a wired Ethernet plug or an 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi client. It had a range of 90 feet, a bit short of the group's average. The array of connections also matches that of the Aspire One with three USB, external monitor, microphone and headphone jacks, although it lacks the 2133's Express card slot. The Eee PC has a slot that accommodates Secure Digital, Memory Stick and xD flash cards.

The system's 17.6mm keys with 1.9mm of depth make for reasonably accurate and comfortable typing, although the touchpad's buttons were quite stiff. There's a handy home key that brings up the operating system's tabbed main page.

Based on the Xandros Linux, the page has tabbed selections for Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings and Favorites. It comes with the OpenOffice suite, a Web browser, e-mail and other programs. There's a good assortment of software, but its best programs are the educational ones, including a star map program and an interactive periodic table.

The Eee PC 1000 passed each of our compatibility tests and finished in the middle of the pack on the performance tests. The 6,600 milli-amp hour battery, the largest of the group, lasted for three hours 50 minutes, an hour and a half less than the five hours and 15 minutes of life the Aspire One got out of its smaller battery.

Overall, it's too much of a good thing. For a mini-notebook, the Eee PC feels bloated, oversized and at $600, expensive compared to the others. It pushes the limits of this new category but offers little more than a bigger window on the world.

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