Sometimes it seems like every week, there's a new Eee PC model to take a look at. That might sound like it gets dull after a while, but Asus keep innovating and giving us new things to get excited about.
Take the Eee PC 1004dn, for example. Somewhere along the way, scrabble-tile keyboards become the marker of class in laptops (I blame the Apple MacBook, though it certainly helps that Sony has followed suit with a swag of VAIO laptops), and here were have a scrabble-tile keyboard on an Eee PC.
Even though the separated keys are smaller than those on the standard Sony VAIO series and Apple's Macbooks, we were typing speedily in no time, and the comfort level was good too. Keys have a good amount of responsiveness, although there's a bit of rattle. The trackpad is quite sticky and unresponsive, and it's not up with the likes of the MSI Wind or HP mini models. But that keyboard is a definite step up, and it compares favourably to the Sony VAIO P series -- the only other netbook we've seen with the chiclet keyboard.
In looks, it's closer to the Eee PC S101, with that model's champagne and black colouring, large screen bezel, relatively light weight and slender profile. The only thing impeding that slender profile is the chubby battery protruding at the back -- the 1004dn comes with a 6-cell battery that Asus claims will last 5.9 hours. We won't be able to finalise our battery benchmarks for a while, but anything over four hours in our light use battery test will put it up amongst the front-runners for longevity.
The final alteration from standard netbook fare is the processor; Asus has used the slightly faster Atom N280, rather than the usual N270. That change adds a small amount of additional performance -- it rates 0.42 in our benchmarks rather than the usual 0.39.
Add in the 120GB Samsung hard drive, ExpressCard slot, fingerprint reader and -- wonder of wonders -- a DVD-writer, as well as the usual 3 USB, VGA, card reader, mic and headphone ports, and you've got yourself a solid contender for tiny-laptop supremacy.
The real killer feature here is that optical drive; it's a big departure for the netbook category, and adds backup capability and software installation possibilities that other systems lack. In addition, there's an Eee Storage function, to wirelessly backup your system.
You'll pay for the additional extras -- the Eee PC 1004dn has an RRP of $1399 -- but it's hard to beat the combination of portability and features.
|Sleek and attractive: the new Asus Eee1004dn|
|A keyboard you can actually use....|
|Glossy and sexy...another Eee PC victory.|