Asus Eee PC 1015PN Review It hard to believe, but this is the 25th Eee PC we reviewed since the original model kicked off the netbook revolution way back at the end of 2007.
Yes, 25. During that span we seen Asus replace Linux with Windows, move to larger screens, and vastly improve its designs and bundled software. But in the age of the iPad, none of that is enough to get consumers excited about mini notebooks. What the Eee PC 1015PN ($429) brings to the party is serious eye candy. Although it looks identical to the dual core Atom packin 1015PEM ($379) we recently reviewed, this is the first 10 inch netbook to feature Nvida Ion graphics. The result is one of the most capable machines yet in this class. It also available in blue, red, and white. Our model picked up more fingerprint smudges than we like, but the overall feel is nice and sturdy. The 1015PN is also travel friendly, weighing 2.8 pounds and measuring 10.3 x 7.1 x 0.9 to 1.4 inches. The right side of the netbook houses the memory card slot, mic and headphone jacks, two USB ports, Kensington lock slot, and Ethernet jack. On the left side of the 1015PN you find an HDMI port, a third USB port, a VGA port, and the AC jack. The area between the 10.1 inch display and the palm rest is glossy plastic, as is the screen bezel. After playing a 15 minute Hulu video at full screen, the touchpad measured 94 degrees and the area between the G and H keys was 96 degrees. The bottom part of the machine was the most uncomfortable, reaching 104 degrees. By comparison, the Ion less 1015PEM registered 79, 91, and 89 degrees in all of the same locations. Display and Audio The 10.1 inch display on the 1015PN sports a matte finish that allows for wide viewing angles, and it provided a bright picture when surfing the web. You get the same number of pixels as the 1015PEM (1024 x 600) so you have to use the HDMI port to enjoy high def video. When listening to The Postal Service "Brand New Colony" on Pandora, the two speakers on the oakley wire front edge of the laptop produced decent volume. However, they sounded harsh at the max setting. Asus Eee PC 1015PN Keyboard and Touchpad We have mixed feelings about the typing experience on the Eee PC 1015PN. On the plus side, the chiclet style layout has nicely spaced keys, and the keys themselves provide a good amount of travel without any flex. However, the keys themselves are on the small size, especially oakley clearance sale the shrunken right Shift key. We also wish Asus would finally invert the function keys so you could do things such as adjust the volume and brightness without having to execute a combo. The roomy 3 x 1.5 inch touchpad has the same soft touch treatment as the rest of the palm rest, yet it offered a smooth navigation experience. Our only complaint is that two finger scrolling stuttered a bit. While the 1015PEM notched 1,729 in PCMark Vantage (a Windows productivity benchmark), this netbook earned a higher score of 1,963. That showing is old style oakley sunglasses also well above the average. In Geekbench, another performance benchmark, the 1015PN scored 1,077. That beats the average netbook (897) but trails the 11.6 inch Acer Aspire One 721 (1,455), which features a 1.7 GHz AMD Athlon II Neo processor. The 10 inch Acer Aspire One 521 has the same CPU, but we haven reviewed that netbook. The 1015PN booted to Windows 7 Starter in 64 seconds, which is the same as the netbook average, but the 23.5 MBps transfer rate turned in by the 5,400 rpm 250 GB hard drive was above average. Converting a 114MB MPEG 4 file to AVI using the Oxelon program took 3 minutes and 55 seconds, considerably faster than the typical mini notebook (5:56). Despite the fact that the 1015PN outperforms most other 10 inch machines, we never forgot that we were using a netbook. But what does that really give you? HD video playback on a big screen monitor or TV via the netbook HDMI port, the ability to play mainstream games at a decent clip, and support for a small but growing number of graphics accelerated applications. In 3DMark06, the 1015PN turned in a relatively strong score of 1,497, which is about 10 times better than the version of this netbook with only Intel graphics. You can even play titles such as World of Warcraft, so long as you keep the resolution low. This machine managed a decent 24 fps at 1024 x 600. Still, the AMD powered Aspire One 721 mustered 30 fps in the same test. Although it more expensive, the 12 inch Eee PC 1215N beats all of these machines with a 3DMark06 score of 2,692 and 48 fps in WoW. To evaluate HD video playback, we connected the 1015PN to a 34 inch HDTV and played the 1080p version of the Tron: Legacy and Toy Story 3 trailers. With the exception of some minor hitching, the light bike scene rendered smoothly on the big screen, and we could easily make out every wrinkle in Jeff Bridge face. We measured a smooth 29 frames per second using FRAPS when playing the latter trailer. What, No Optimus? The two biggest weaknesses of the 1015PN are actually related. Asus decided not to equip this netbook with Nvidia Optimus technology, which allows notebooks to automatically switch between Intel integrated graphics and Nvidia Ion GPU. Instead, you forced to use the included Asus Switch to manually change modes, which requires a reboot. As it turns out, Optimus requires Windows 7 Premium, but the 1015PN runs Windows 7 Starter, which is cheaper for the manufacturer. So not only do you not get automatic graphics switching, you can change your desktop wallpaper, enjoy Aero effects, or extend your desktop to an external display (you can only mirror it). You could upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium for $89.95, which would ostensibly make Optimus technology oakley jury available to you (assuming you could find the driver.) But at that point you probably be better off buying the $499 Asus Eee PC 1215PN. Battery Life and Wireless In integrated graphics mode, the 1015PN six cell battery lasted 5 hours and 51 minutes in the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous surfing over Wi Fi). That nearly an hour longer than what this netbook turned in with Nvidia Ion graphics enabled (5:03), but about a half hour less than the category average (6:20). Oddly enough, the nearly identical 1015PEM lasted much longer on a charge (8:07), which has only integrated graphics. The Broadcom 802.11n radio inside the 1015PN delivered below average throughput in our tests, turning in a data rate of 22.5 from 15 feet and just 14.7 Mbps from 50 feet. The average netbook gets 24.
7 and 18.3 Mbps, respectively. You won want to stay too far from that router.
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