A Bigger Mini-Computer from Asus

A little more than a year ago, Taiwanese computer manufacturer Asus stunned the industry -- and the buying public -- by announcing a tiny laptop at a very affordable price. The company called its little laptop the Eee PC.

To say it was a huge success would be an understatement. It instantly became a huge best seller all over the world. It also became the linchpin for the computer industry's move toward smaller, lighter, portable computers.

The first Eees had a 7-inch screen, Intel ( INTC) processor, varying amounts of solid-state, flash memory storage and ran on the Linux OS and sold for around $300 (if you could find them in stock). Newer models were loaded with Windows XP. Models after that sported nine-inch screens (Windows and Linux). You get the idea. Eees started becoming very capable computers.

The Greatest of Eees

Now, there's a new, bigger Eee to contend with. Enter the Eee PC 1000. As you might be able to figure out on your own, the 1000 comes with a 10-inch display. There's a lot more to it than that, though.

The Eee 1000 comes in two major configurations: the model 1000 which is loaded with GNU Linux and has 40GB of flash memory and the model 1000H with Windows XP (Service Pack 3) and an 80GB hard drive. The new Eee comes loaded with Microsoft ( MSFT) Works and Star Office 8 and lots more software.

There are two more major improvements on the 1000s -- a full sized QWERTY keyboard (the original keyboards were a lot smaller) and a huge new battery. Asus claims the new six-cell battery pack is said to be good for up to seven hours for Windows version, and a little longer (7.5 hours) for Linux users per charge.

In addition, these are the first Eees to come with the new Intel Atom processor inside. There are also stereo speakers, a 1.3 megapixel Webcam, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth and a whole lot more. My test 1000H came with 1GB of DDR2 RAM. The 1000s can hold up to 2GB of RAM.

Of course, a larger screen, keyboard and battery means this new Eee is physically bigger than previous Eees. It's also heavier. The 1000 series weigh three pounds or so -- which is about a pound heavier than the tiny original.

My new 1000H is one day old at the moment, so I'm still putting everything through its paces. I can tell you that this Windows XP version boots super quickly -- almost as fast as a Linux Eee will boot.

Overall, the screen is super readable. Web pages load quickly. Programs load quickly too. The sound is clear and crisp.

I played some of the videos here on TheStreet.com and thought the Eee 1000 did a terrific job of streaming them. Motion remnants were minimal.

The new, bigger keyboard is a pleasure to use. On the other hand, on my sample, the left-click mouse button was kinda stiff to use. It is brand new. I will let you know if it remains that way a month or two from now.

Finally, the 1000 is heavier than previous Eees -- but battery life, in early tests, seems to be a lot better than with older Eees. I usually find that real-life battery capacity is half of what manufacturers claim. So far, the 1000 has provided four hours of real use, so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to squeeze out five hours of battery life per charge -- or more -- after tweaking the settings and breaking in the battery.

Asus' Eee PC 1000H has a suggested retails price of $549. That's a lot of little laptop for the price -- and should give competitors (like Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), Dell ( DELL), Lenovo ( LNVGY) and others) a run for the money.

Because solid-state memory is so much more expensive than hard drive storage, the Linux 1000 will retail for $699.

The Eee PC 1000s are very highly recommended.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.

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