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Lap of Luxury: The ASUS 1000HE

Netbooks are all the rage these days. The itty-bitty computers are cheaper and much lighter than the typical laptops most of us must lug around when traveling or taking work home. Many major computer manufacturers have developed netbooks for size- and cost-conscious computer users, but ASUS, the Taiwanese company that pioneered netbook technology, remains king of the hill with the Eee PC 1000HE.

Some of the computer's specs sit on the same level as the competition: 10-inch screen, 160 GB hard drive, 1.66 GHz processor and a built-in Webcam. But a couple slick features make it superior.

Most importantly, the 1000HE has a seven-plus hour battery life. That's almost enough time to fly from Chicago to London without needing a charge. Unfortunately, to increase battery life the computer's battery had to be bigger, so the wee laptop isn't quite as wee as its competitors. The 1000HE weighs 3.2 pounds, a bit more than a variety of slightly lighter netbooks that weigh between 2.6 and 2.9 pounds. But when I slipped the computer in my bag, it still felt like I was carrying feathers compared to schlepping my bulkier laptop.

The 1000HE's keyboard also is surprisingly comfortable. It's marginally scaled down from a normal keyboard, but anyone with fingers smaller than rolls of quarters shouldn't have a problem. As an added bonus, the 1000HE offers Bluetooth technology, which many netbooks don't yet include.

That said, I still have a few gripes. The touchpad button isn't as comfortable as it should be: I had to pound on it to click. And while the glossy black shell at first seems to give the computer some classy sleekness, after a few minutes of handling, it was covered in fingerprint smudges.

Finally, even though I obviously knew netbooks were small, I still wasn't prepared for the screen's utter tininess. I'm typing this review on the 1000HE, but making the text big enough not to hurt my eyes means barely a quarter of a page fits on the screen. On the 1000HE and any netbook, it takes effort to adjust to the small display.

But all in all, the 1000HE is a neat little netbook. And for only $384.49 on Amazon.com, it's a slam dunk deal.

Assistant Editor

Christopher Danzig

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