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.

MSI Wind U123 Review

The MSI Wind U123 is yet another 10” iteration of the MSI Wind netbook range. Apart from the original U100 release, the subsequent release of the U120 has failed to impress. The U120 isn’t much of an improvement and in fact is limited to 1GB of RAM and still has the same old Atom N270 processor.

The U123 changes all this by having the newer Atom N280 processor and is upgradable to 2GB of RAM. There are also two additional models. The U123T will have a built-in TV tuner and the U123H will have built-in 3G. The version I have today is the plain U123 which comes with neither of these features.

The MSI Wind U123 went on sale in Japan on the 11th April, and I hear it’s going on sale next month in the US. It is priced at 49,800 yen ($502) which is roughly the average price for newly released 10-inchers in Japan.

MSI Wind U123 Specs

10” 1024 x 600 LED Backlit Display (Anti-glare)
Intel Atom N280 Processor
Intel GMA950 Graphics
1GB DDR2-667 RAM (Max 2GB)
160GB HDD (5400RPM WDC WD1600BEVT-22ZCT0)
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
3x USB 2.0, D-Sub, Microphone, Headphone ports
Multi-card reader (5 in 1)
LAN 10/100 Port
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
1.3MP Webcam
6-Cell 5200mAh Lithium-Ion Battery
1.35kg / 2.9lbs (with 6-Cell)
260 x 180 x 19.75mm Dimensions
Windows XP Home SP3

Installed Software & Packaged Contents

Provided in the box are two optical disks: one for drivers and one is the recovery disk, a padded case which provides good protection, a warranty paper and a quick start guide. Unlike other netbooks, you have to enable Wi-Fi first on MSI netbooks before you starting connecting to a network, don’t forget that.

Now onto the installed software.

It’s great to see Internet Explorer 7 installed by default where most netbooks come with IE6. For people who review netbooks all the time like me, or for the non-techies, it’s a pain, not so much for you though.

There is the CrazyTalk CamSuite to handle your webcamera needs. I had a lot of laughs playing with the Magic Mirror option where you can distort your face in real-time (look like an alien) or apply gag animations (like sleeping with a snot bubble that comes out of your nose!). Great fun!

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Lastly there’s the EasyFace Manager, where you can set up your login to only accept your face. I spent a good 10 minutes with this trying out as many things as I could to screw up the system and it did a pretty good job of recognizing my face in alot of situations (including taking off my glasses) but the problem is it doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t even work at all.

Last of all, there’s a restorable hidden partition and an option on your desktop to burn a recovery disk.

Build Quality

Very happy with the build quality. Almost no keyboard flex. Comfortable two-key trackpad. There are still two very small hinges holding the screen but unlike previous MSI Winds, they seem a bit stiffer. They don’t seem to wobble when someone walks past for example.

The weight distribution is mostly at the back of the machine so if you try to use it on your lap with the screen tilt full back, it will fall off your lap. Like wise if you use it on a soft surface like on your bed it tends to tilt back slightly, though typing is okay. I’ve had the same problem with the original MSI Wind U100.

Ports & Layout

One thing to take note of, is that an SD Card in the multi-card reader won’t go all the way in. It goes just over 3/4 the way in. Might have trouble with a tight fitting case.

The ports are all standard fare: On the left, Kensington lock, power, 2x USB ports. On the right: LAN, VGA, Microphone and headphone, 1x USB and Multi-card reader.

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There is only a power button on the top above the keyboard that emits a bright blue light (or a more subtle green light if you have ECO mode enabled). I’ve found the blue light irritating in a dark room when viewing the U123 from the right side of the machine, enough to make me think about getting some tape to cover it up.

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There are 8 LED indicators and I have no idea what three of them do. The power connector goes straight in and is not hooked like on the 10-Inch Acer Aspire One or ASUS Eee PCs.

There’s nothing on the back but the battery. If you remove the battery though, there’s a SIM card slot for a WWAN connection which will be available on the U123H model. In the plain U123 model the slot is empty.

MSI Wind U123 Review (5)

Audio and Webcam

Sound volume is good but it’s quite tinny. Seems the same as on the original U100. Overall I’m not really impressed with the U120’s sound quality as I’ve heard much better on a netbook. For instance, all three netbooks I have in the room right now sound better: The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE, Acer Aspire One D150 and ASUS Eee PC S101.

There’s that HD Audio Equalizer you some on many netbooks (brown speaker icon in the taskbar) where many have said will give you better sound if you adjust it. In my opinion an equalizer does little when the speakers are subpar in the first place.

Recording video from the webcam worked well, no problems here. The frame rate was fast enough and in a dimly lit room my face was still recognizable. The microphone, on the other hand, was problematic. I could barely hear my own voice recording in Skype. I tried every setting I could think of in Windows but nothing did the trick. Looks like a driver problem to me. That’s the first thing I’ve experience this problem out of all the netbooks I’ve tested.

Upgradability

The bottom half of the chassis is quite easily removable after unscrewing 9 or so screws but MSI do NOT want you upgrading parts yourself so they have placed a “void if tampered with” warranty sticker on top of one screw. Because of this I’m unable to take pictures of inside the machine. I can easily see though that you can upgrade the hard drive and RAM at least.

Regarding the warranty issue, it’s best to contact your local MSI support line and / or the retailer you bought it from to see where you stand regarding self upgrades.

Now, if they start selling U123s with 2GB RAM, that’s great but it still leaves the issue of the upgrading the hard drive. You may want to get a larger hard drive or switch to a solid state drive at some point.

Display

The display is a 10” anti-glare 1024×600 sized display. It’s excellent with vivid enough colors. Seems pretty much the same as every other 10-inch non-glare screen I’ve used on a netbook. It’s slightly brighter than the 1000HE but you can always bump the brightness up on the 1000HE with EeeCtrl. The MSI Wind doesn’t go as dark as the 1000HE though and I wish it went a tad tarker for use without the lights on. Viewing angles were the same on both the 1000HE and the U123 as far as my eyes can tell.

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The screen lid doesn’t go as far back as the 1000HE or 10” Acer Aspire One as you can see in the picture below (U123 is in the middle, Eee PC 1000HE on the left, and Acer Aspire D150 on the right).

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There are two areas that ripple on the screen when I press the left and right bottom-hand sides of the screen. Doesn’t seem like much to worry about though. I’m unable to replicate any ripples on the 1000HE.

Touchpad & Buttons

The touchpad is slightly undersized, horizontally. If it were slightly wider it would be very good. The surface is slick and I can easily glide my fingers over it. There are two buttons which feel very satisfying to press, very pleased with that. The one huge problem I have is that there is no hardware support for scrolling! There’s no touchpad software installed and no drivers for it on MSI’s driver page for the U123.

MSI Wind U123 Review (9)

Weight & Size

I have a 1000HE and 10” Acer Aspire One to compare with, but first I’ll rule out the 1000HE, it’s the Goliath of 10-inch netbooks and the U123 is slimmer, lighter and has a smaller footprint.

It’s much more comparable in size to the 10-Inch Acer Aspire One. The U123 has the same width as the 10-inch Acer Aspire One but the U123 is slightly shorter in length. The U123 is thinner at the front but ends up slightly higher at the back due to the 6-cell battery pushing the bottom up slightly.

The U123 weighs 1.3kg / 2.9 lbs with the 6-cell battery. The 1000HE weighs 1.44kg / 3.2 lbs. I’d compare my Aspire One but it only comes with a 3-cell battery. I notice the different in weight but doesn’t make any practical difference to me. The S101 on the other hand.. completely different beast.

The power brick for the U123 is larger than both the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE’s and 10-Inch Acer Aspire One’s as you can see in the pic below. The Eee PC brick (same for all models) on the left, Acer Aspire One D150 in the middle and the U123 on the right. The U123 also has a thicker cable like on the D150.

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Keyboard

The keyboard has remained unchanged since the original MSI Wind U100. Which has it’s good and bad points.

MSI Wind U123 Review (8)

Good because there’s very little flex, close to none actually, there’s a big right shift key and the keys have a very satisfying feel, and personally, I like these more than the chiclet keys on the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE.

Bad because they haven’t bothered to fix the CTRL and Function key placement which is the wrong way around and they make the function key much larger. If you’re only using this as a single machine you’ll get used to the key placement quick enough, but if you use multiple machines it can get frustrating.

Note that I have a Japanese keyboard, so the keys are slightly smaller than the English counterpart.

Heat & Noise

I’ve been very pleased with the noise levels. You can hear the fan noise, in a very quiet room, but it’s very low and if step just over a meter away then I can’t hear it.

It’s stayed very cool all over. A very pleasant experience coming straight over from the 1000HE which has huge heat and noise problems.

Battery Life

Due to the newer N280 Atom processor, the U123 should be able to squeeze a little more battery life than older MSI Winds. I don’t have an older MSI Wind around to test this directly though. Previous versions of MSI Winds have shipped with lower rated batteries in Asia, so this could vary, but in Japan this 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery for the U123 is rated 5200mAh, 58Wh. I was expecting a little more though. The latest Samsung netbooks are shipping with 5900mAh batteries, for example.

Anyway onto the battery life benchmarks

Settings: Wi-Fi, Webcam, BT, Sound OFF, ECO Mode ON, No mouse, Lowest Brightness
Battery Eater Idle – 6 hours 35 mins.
Battery Eater Classic – 4 hours 48 mins

Settings: Wi-Fi, Webcam, BT OFF, ECO Mode ON, No mouse, Brightness 100%,  Sound 100%
Looping 480P DivX movies – 3 hours, 55 mins

So, at best you will be able to squeeze out 6 hours and 35 mins out of the 6-cell battery, assuming you don’t turn off your screen. If you’re looking for superb battery life on an MSI Wind netbook, wait for the MSI Wind U115 which gets over 10 hours on a single charge, though it hasn’t been released yet.

The battery life is above average, but compared to newer netbooks on the market, like the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE, HP Mini series or the newer Samsung netbooks, it falls 1-3 hours short.

One thing that has bothered me since the original U100 is that you have to manually enter ECO mode every time you unplug the AC adapter. Furthermore, the settings are lost so you will have to alter the brightness etc every time too.

Recharging the power brick takes just under 3.5 hours at 3 hours 26 mins.

Performance

Don’t expect any noticeable speed improvements with the newer Intel Atom N280 processor. The only difference you notice is higher figures in these benchmark results below.

The hard drive is nice and speedy with 69 / 68 read/write speeds.

crystaldiskmark

Pros
Improved battery life over MSI Wind U100 (up to 6.5 hours)
Excellent keyboard, save one key placement.
Upgradable RAM and HDD, unlike the U120.
Nice bright, vivid display.
Low, non-intrusive fan noise.
Two good touchpad buttons.
Cons
No touchpad scrolling ability.
Can’t place it in your lap, falls off.
Power brick bigger than it needs to be.
ECO Mode not initiated when switching to battery.
Upgrading RAM / HDD voids warranty.
Very tinny sound quality.
SD Card sticks out, doesn’t go fully in.
Microphone volume extremely low.

LG G Pad 8.3 Review

Android tablets usually come with either 7 inch or 10 inch display. There are exceptions out there that features 8 inch display – one is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and another is LG G Pad 8.3 which features 8.3 inch screen. Compared to the former, it packs higher resolution (1920×1200) and a faster processor too (Qualcomm Snapdragon 600). Here is a review of it.

LG G Pad 8.3 Review

Continue reading “LG G Pad 8.3 Review”

MagicTab M3 Review

MagicTab is a 7 inch slate tablet with LED backlit display. Unlike most Chinese tablets (like Miu Miu W5), it has a capacitive style display. It packs WSVGA 1024 x 600 pixel resolution and has two cameras – one in the front and another one at the back.

magictab-m3-review
The body of the Magic Tab is very much like the Nook tablet, thanks to its boundless screen design. On the left you will find a mini USD port, HDMI, headset jack and micro SD card reader. There is a SIM card slot too so that you are able to make calls even you are on the road. In fact, the company has included an app to let you make phone calls.

Continue reading “MagicTab M3 Review”