ASUS Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid Review

Packaging, Contents

ASUS Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid Review

I didn’t get the wrong box, the box has both the brown and pink models shown on opposite sides. You get 2x li-poly batteries, microfibre wipe, recovery DVD, power brick / cable and warranty booklet. No sleeve here.


ASUS Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid Review

Build & Design

Once you’ve handled the 1008P-KR you’ll definitely feel let down going back to the thicker form factor of the 1005PE series. It’s not just the weight and thickness that makes the 1008P-KR impressive, it’s the unique design thanks to product designer Karim Rashid. I don’t have a clue who this person is but he has done a fabulous job on the 1008P-KR. It is a step up from all other Eee PCs.

I don’t like Brown, as a color, on my hardware but somehow it works for me here. It’s a cool brown with a subtle metallic bronze type sheen all over. The whole chassis from top to bottom is covered with this soft touch matte textured surface with has a wavy, bumpy feel and lines etched into the surface. It’s completely fingerprint resistant and so far I haven’t seen any fingerprints at all on it.

There is also the interior of the 1008P-KR which carries a better design from other Eee PCs but I will cover this in following sections.

The ports are hidden in flaps to keep the whole design consistent and not only that it keeps out dust from those ports that are normally always exposed. When you actually have to use the ports it can be annoying to uncover the ports but I can certainly live with that. Speaking of ports there are only two USB ports instead of the usual three you get on most netbooks.

Ports & Layout

Left: power plug (same tiny one as on the other Eee PCs), mini USB (for VGA dongle) and 1x USB behind the cover, air vent and card reader with card sitting in completely flush.

Right: 1x USB, mic and headphone jack behind first cover and RJ45 LAN behind the last cover.

Bottom: At the top is a compartment that holds the VGA dongle. Air vent just to the right of that. To the right and slightly underneath the VGA dongle compartment is the RAM access panel. You can open up the RAM access panel via a screw hidden in the VGA dongle compartment.

On the left edge is an access panel for removing the li-poly battery.

Front: Nothing but stereo speakers located on the bottom front sides.

Back: On the back you have two status LED lights centered in the middle. One for power and one is for recharging. They are both pretty bright and don’t go well in the same room you’re trying to sleep in.

Top: Chrome ASUS logo and a matte wavered, slightly bumpy matte surface with cross hatch marks across the entire suface. Very fingerprint resistant. I haven’t cleaned the lid once yet and no matter what angle I view the lid at I cannot see any fingerprints at all.

Inside: Status LEDs are located on the screen bezel, visible only when the lid is opened. Two buttons on the left. Power (SHE) toggle / Trackpad toggle. On the right is the power button.

Display

The 1008P-KR has a glossy display like most Eee PC seashell netbooks, however you’ve got an edge-to-edge display meaning there’s a single piece of film covering the screen and the bezel. Looks classier than the standard glossy display.

Brightness of the display is decent at 196 cd/m2 in the middle of the display. That is more than enough for indoors. For me just under 50% brightness was ideal when I am using this netbook around the house.

I can’t comment on viewing angles, colors or black depth because all glossy displays look the same to me and there just would be no way to tell without seeing them side by side. One thing that I immediately noticed is despite being a glossy display there is a subtle anti-glare like texture behind the reflective coating, which is not needed. Distracting at first but you get used to it. This isn’t unique to the 1008P-KR as I’ve noticed many glossy displays having anti-glare texturing, to varying degrees. For example, the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE had the same display with quite noticeable texturing. On the other hand, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3 is pretty much texture free.

The display folds back enough that I haven’t been in any situation where I wished the screen would go back further. You can see how far the display folds back in the below above.

Keyboard

I have a Japanese keyboard, so ignore the tiny right shift key, the English keyboards don’t have this as well as a few minor differences.

The 1008P-KR has the same chiclet keyboard you find on all the other new Pinetrail Eee PC Seashell netbooks, like the 1005PE however unlike on those other models its put together much more solidly. There’s no slight clinking / rattling noise nor is there any flex. It just feels much better and higher quality. The keys have a very subtle texture to grip your fingers and have a little more travel (deeper key press) than some other netbook keys (like on the IdeaPad S10-3 or Samsung N140).

Trackpad

You’ve got the same trackpad as on all Eee PC Seashell netbooks. It’s flush with the palm rest with a slightly dimpled surface. There’s the same single rocker bar button. Feels pretty much the same as on other Eee PCs though instead of a cheap plastic, the palm rest and trackpad has a soft touch plastic coating which feels softer and a lighter nicer.

The trackpad supports multi touch gestures with two fingered scrolling. Quite responsive scrolling and I am happy to scroll webpages with just the trackpad. (instead of resorting to keyboard arrow keys). I digged into the options and there is support for three fingered gestures but I cannot get them to work.

Noise

While you can easily hear the fan running all the time, on the 1008P-KR, it is relatively quiet, for most tasks, certainly for web browsing at least. At this fan level (lowest), it is not as quite as the Eee PC 1005PE or the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3 for example. Compared to those just a tad louder. The noise is a constant whirring of air and it doesn’t waver or ramp up to draw your attention. I have no problems using this in a quiet room with my head right up near the display. It’s very much within my noise tolerance range.

If you start watching a movie or some other task that will stress the CPU harder you will notice the fan ramp up to a noisier level. I’ve got it running in my small living room and it was overpowering the noise from my computer. It lasted a couple of minutes but now it’s on a lower level fan and is not bothersome now.

Heat

The 1008P-KR gets pretty warm on the bottom on most occasions and the top remains cool, with a tad of warmth. I left the 1008P-KR running for an hour with 720p video on a hard wooden surface and here are the following temperatures I recorded:

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Sound, Webcam and Microphone

Sound quality is very decent coming through the stereo speakers located at the bottom front. The sound can get slightly muffled if you place it on a carpet or a soft surface. Volume at 100% hardware / Windows global setting and 50% in Windows Media Player is enough for my whole small apartment. I would probably rate sound quality as above average for a netbook.

Microphone quality is okay. There are two microphones on top so you can get stereo output. Like all netbooks, good enough for chat and phone calls with Skype. (I tested out the microphone with Audacity).

Unlike most Eee PC Seashell netbooks, you’ve got a 1.3MP webcam on this 1008P-KR vs the 0.3MP on most other. I immediately notice the image is sharper.

HD Video

Out of the box, you’ll be able to play 480p or DVD quality videos at most. You can download CoreAVC codecs (not free) to enable 720p H.264 video playback which works okay provided you set the theme to Windows Basic. Playback seemed to slightly stutter, even on super performance setting, with Aero theme turned on.

YouTube will struggle with 720p and 1080p video and high bitrate SD content. For the most part there shouldn’t be a problem with most YouTube videos.

There is not enough processing power to smoothly run HD content on an external display at a higher resolution. I cannot run smooth video at 1680 x 1050 for example (standard resolution for many 22-inch monitors).

Battery Life

The 1008P-KR comes with two Lithium polymer batteries with 31Wh, 2900mAh, 10.95V ratings. Basically equivalent to having two high capacity 3-cell batteries. I managed to squeeze out 4 hours of battery life doing light web surfing with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on from one battery. In total that gives you 8 hours of battery life which is very good. Of course that means switching out the battery half way and having to carry around the extra battery.

Let’s take a look at some battery life figures (which take into account both batteries. Half these scores to get figures for a single battery):

My first web browsing session had the power mode on power saving

Battery Life

Test

Settings

8:00

Light web browsing (no Flash)

Power Saving, Wi-Fi / BT ON,  1-5 / 15 brightness notches, audio ON

7:40

Light web browsing (no Flash)

Auto Power, Wi-Fi / BT ON,  1-5 / 15 brightness notches, audio ON

7:06

480p (DivX) video playback

Power Saving, Wi-Fi / BT OFF, 6 /15 brightness, audio ON

6:06

720p (H.264) video playback

Power Saver, Wi-Fi / BT OFF, 6 /15 brightness, audio ON

* Windows hibernates by default at 7% remaining battery life. Results don’t include that remaining figure. There’s potentially 14% of battery life that goes unused! (two batteries)

Now let’s compare that to other netbooks (add at half an hour to the below figures to get a realistic figure for light web browsing). A single battery can’t compare to any netbook with a 6-cell battery but if you carry around the extra battery, there’s more battery life to go around than many netbooks.

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Performance

To match the premium quality of this netbook, the specs also get a nice bump. Instead of 1GB RAM and 250GB HDD, Windows 7 Starter on pretty much all netbooks, here you have 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD and Windows 7 Home Premium. That lends itself to better performance overall. If you’re just web browsing or just have a couple of apps open at any one time there won’t be much noticeable difference but if you work with large files in a graphical editor or have tons of web browser apps open the extra memory helps keep the netbook from slowing down.

Here’s a performance comparison between other notebook and netbooks I have reviewed previously. It easily tops all netbooks thanks to 2GB RAM. The HDD may be slightly faster I do not know.

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Upgrades

Taking a look at the back I am surprised to find out that you can actually access the RAM, via a screw hidden in the VGA dongle compartment. Since there is already 2GB RAM installed there’s not much point there unless you want to slip in faster RAM, not that that will make much of a difference.

And that’s it. You can’t access the hard drive or Wi-Fi and knowing ASUS they will have a warranty void seal inside so you’ll have to void your warranty to get to those goodies. That is if you manage to open it up in the first place. Luckily you’ve got a large 320GB HDD and 2GB RAM.

Size, Weight

The 1008P-KR is one of the thinnest and lightest 10-inch netbooks on the market right now. It weighs 1.15 kg / 2.5 pounds and reaches 24 mm / 0.9 inches at the highest point (at the back, at a small portion of that goes into the rubber feet). Compare that to my Samsung N140 which weighs 1.2 kg / 2.7 pounds and reaches 34 mm / 1.3 inches at the highest point (at the back). It is amazing to hold this in your hands over standard sized netbooks, not so much for the weight but for the thinness. Most other netbooks are about the same size and weight as the Samsung N140 because they all need to accommodate a large lithium ion 6-cell battery unlike the 2 or 3-cell lithium polymer battery on this 1008P-KR.

The catch is, when you actually carry the extra battery the total weight is actually more than the standard netbook. The total weight comes to 1.38 kg / 3.1 pounds with both batteries and the netbook (not including power cable / brick). With one battery the 1008P-KR you’re carrying around one of the lightest 10-inch netbooks. Carry two batteries, and the weight is the same as carrying around an 11.6” Acer Aspire 1410. You’ll get twice as much battery life with the 1008P-KR however.

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Various pictures comparing the 1008P-KR to my Samsung N140 netbook:




Linux

I ran Jolicloud “Robby” Beta and installation went fine with the Express Installer, although booting up with a non-native resolution. Updating Jolicloud fixed the screen resolution. Brightness works. Sound works though the associated hot keys do not. Wi-Fi works, but not the hot key for it. Sleep works.

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