One Year With My Eee PC

Mari Eee PC 1000HA 2009It was right about this time last year that I bought my Asus Eee 1000HA. It was my first netbook, and I fell in love with the price and portability. Now here it is a year later, and I have a more nuanced perspective on my little black book. About a month ago the hard drive failed, and I went through a nightmare of trying to recover data (my own fault) and finding a temporary machine to use. Luckily the Eee PC was still under warranty, so I sent it back with a trusty RMA number and got a replacement hard drive for free. There seems to be evidence now that netbooks do indeed fail more often than other laptops, but the Asus brand is more reliable than most. Just my luck.

Now that I’ve got my Eee back, I’m evaluating what I still love and don’t love about it. Let’s start with the good stuff. The weight and size of the hardware is awesome. I literally put it in my bag and then wonder a few minutes later if I’ve forgotten my computer because the bag feels so light. I also love that it’s so small because it means I can carry my Eee virtually everywhere. The netbook is why I’ve lasted so long without a smartphone. (Much to Dave’s chagrin.)

Before I got the Eee, I heard some complaints about the keyboard. It’s slightly smaller than a full-size keyboard, and the right Shift key is further out to the side. Frankly, not only do these issues not bother me (and I’m a touch typist), but the keyboard response is excellent, with perfect resistance in the keys. Another pro: the six-cell battery keeps me juiced up for a reasonably long time. Operating on Wi-Fi, I get about three and a half hours of power after a year of use.

Now the not so good stuff. My left mouse button sticks. Irritating. And when the battery charges up, it’s decent, but every third or fourth reboot the battery refuses to charge. It runs down and then won’t juice back up when plugged in. The solution is either to go wired, or shut down, take out the battery, put the battery back in, and start up again. So far that always does the trick, but it can be a pain to shut down when I have 17 emails messages to sort, 22 Firefox tabs open, and several docs still cluttering up my screen.

Other than the mouse button and the battery, there are a couple of other irritating issues that are just functions of the netbook design. While the limited resolution never bothered me much, I have to admit that returning to a larger screen temporarily was convenient. I miss it. Also, the Eee version I have is limited to 1 GB of RAM. Since the Eee is my primary machine, I’d like to have a bit more horsepower. Not a deal-killer, but it would be nice to upgrade.

The long and short of it is, I still love my netbook, but I’ll have no trouble trading it in for a new one in another six months or so. My new requirements? A 10″ netbook with 1377×768 resolution, higher RAM capacity, and a new Intel Pine Trail chipset. Oh, and throw in a preloaded version of Windows 7, please. All for under $500.

A girl can dream, right?

10 thoughts on “One Year With My Eee PC”

  1. Yeah, I’m also thinking 10″-11″ inch screen with 768 vertical resolution. Also, I want Windows 7 NOT Starter and at least 2GB of memory. Of course, who knows how Apple might tempt me with an ultraportable next year. In the interim, I just ordered 2 more GB for my 13″ unibody Macbook.

  2. Pretty much matches my experience with the 1000HE. Next one I get has to go 1377×768, will probably be ION (NOT LE), Pine Trail. Other than that I couldn’t be happier.

  3. Check out some of the toshiba notebooks (not a netbook). I just saw one at Office Depot (that is one depressing store) that is 11.6 inches, 2 gb of ram, windows 7 home premium, celeron, and a 6 cell battery for $450. Bing cashback at 7-10 percent helps

  4. For those of us who don’t have a netbook, what is the current screen resolution of your netbook? 1377×768 sounds still pretty low.

  5. Don’t people have any real work to do anymore? Basically I agree with the author of the article, with these stipulations.

    I have an Asus Eee 900 and am totally satisfied with it. I am amazed at people who are concerned about the specifications of their PC — just a tool, after all — in such fine detail.

    I am a technologist who is not blinded by technomancy or the idea that technology always is the answer, esp., more technology. I advocate appropriate technology, not just a puerile focus on more.

    And mybottom line is price: the lower the better. Who cares about Windows 7 or Windows anything? Be reasonable and cost effective and get some work done.

  6. Clayton, there are plenty of good reasons to choose a 2009 OS (Win 7) over one 8 years old (XP). One of them being able to overcome the artificial memory limitation Microsoft imposes on OEMs who continue to roll out XP on netbooks. I want more than 1GB of memory available to me – like Mari, I keep tons of Firefox tabs open and that comes at a cost. Of course, there are other niceties as well in terms of networking support and tighter security. Not to mention, the newer versions of Media Center (assuming you have the horsepower – mstly see in 11″+ laptops) are superior to XP MCE.

  7. Mari,

    Very nice article. Thanks. I bought a Dell Mini 9 about a year ago and have many of the same thoughts. It ALWAYS goes with me on vacation because its so small there are no issues with packing it. We browse the web, watch video, etc. Even on the plane in coach.

    But I also was thinking its just a “bit” too cramped, and was looking at either a 1366×768 10″ netbook (probably the HP mini 5101) or an 11″ “thin ‘n light”.

    On Black Friday I found an Acer AS1810tz for $500 and went for it. 11.6″ 1366×768 display. Better keyboard as a result. 8+ hours of battery life. HDMI out. CULV processor means faster than netbooks and can handle things like full screen Hulu. Multitouch trackpad works very well. Windows 7 Home Premium (not Starter). eSATA support. Basically, a lot of upgrades over your typical netbook, and for not much more money.

    For those that think $500 is too much, just go for the lower-end model, the Acer AS1410. Its only $399 even when its not on sale. And it’ll run rings around your netbook.

    My opinion is that these are barely bigger than typical 10″ netbooks, in fact thinner than some, and acceptable upgrades size wise if you really care about the size of the laptop you’re lugging around. But honestly if I’d EVER seen a 1366×768 display in person in ANY store ANYWHERE I might have gone a different way. But I was concerned it would just be too squinty. On the 11″ it definitely isn’t.

    The Pine Trail is looking like only a minor speed bump, though it might well improve battery life and lower prices. I wouldn’t hold out for a Pine Trail if you’re worried about performance really…

    One thing that might impact netbooks owners in the near future is that the 10.1 Flash update is going to do GPU offloading on the Z-series Atoms that everybody has mostly hated while NOT supporting GPU offloading on the N-series Atoms. Which means fullscreen Hulu on the Z-series will work, and it won’t on the N. Might affect your decision if you buy something pre-Pine Trail.

  8. I picked up a Asus 1000HE this summer to replace a 10″ DVD player for vacation. Got a refurb for$249 added a 2 gb mem chip and haven’t looked back. I use it a ton and my kids and their freinds play toon town for hours on end. Haven’t had any issues at all (knock on wood). It was as great on vacation to dump digital picks from the camera. Installed VLC and ripped 10 or so of my kids favorite movies to the hard drive. Perfect for the plane and for getting the kids to wind down at night….It was hard not to check email though. :) I recommend one, but would like to upgrade to a 11 ” as well but not in a rush to do so.

  9. “…it can be a pain to shut down when I have 17 emails messages to sort, 22 Firefox tabs open, and several docs still cluttering up my screen.”

    You don’t have to do this. Use Hibernate. Might have to turn it on.

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