ASUS Eee PC 1004DN arrived in black box with Eee PC logo on it. In it we found, hidden in bag made of synthetic suede, new ASUS netbook. Beside the device itself we also found in the box cloth (for cleaning), DVD, bag for cables and manual. We are used to getting technical samples from ASUS but this is first time that beside “beta” netbook we also received beta manual. Obviously ASUS is paying attention to details.
Cover is light-brown-ish with piano finish that gives the cover slightly elegant tone. Obviously, manufacturers realized that rant about piano finish wasn’t groundless, so most of them, as ASUS did, made those surfaces much more fingerprint unfriendly. Palm rest is made out of brushed aluminum – elegant and very practical solution. Color of palm rest is also unusual: something between silver and copper (similar to cover). One detail that isn’t that much elegant is 6-cell battery that sticks out at the back, but actually not too much, to be honest.
Rigid construction made out of modern alloys provides nice protection for components found inside the chassis. Best proof of good rigidity is the fact that even harder pressure on cover did not result in picture deformations. For build quality this netbook deserves very high marks.
Ergonomics of ASUS Eee PC 1004DN is, also, very good. Cover can be opened almost at 180 degrees, much more than almost all newer netbooks that we tested so far. Touch pad is relatively small but precise, with thin frame. It supports multi-finger gesture but only for zoom functions –scroll and rotation are not supported by multi-finger gesture. Two touch pad buttons are nice change from single button practice that was present on previous Eee PC models. In upper right corner, above keyboard, is located power button and on the opposite, left, corner – Super Hybrid Engine button.
Keyboard is slightly bending at the middle, but this is one of the best keyboards so far seen on netbooks. By shape and design it resembles Apple MacBook keyboards which is characterized by larger gap between each key. Keyboard size is actually 92% of standard desktop keyboard so prolonged typing shouldn’t be a problem.
Connector layout is very good. Two USB, VGA and audio connectors followed by Express card slot are located at left side, while another USB and LAN port are located at right side.
Display is matte, without shiny coating which is, in our humble opinion, great news and big plus. Picture is sharp with nicely saturated colors. At first glance wide frame around display is noticeable, which is a shame since this model could be much better with one of those new 11.6inch displays. Well, maybe this feature is reserved for some other model. Speakers are very powerless so we won’t waste much time describing them.
What makes ASUS Eee PC 1004DN different is new Intel chipset: GN40. Interestingly, there is not too much information on Intel’s site about this product. What we know is that it has integrated graphics X4500M and support for HD video reproduction. We can only guess that is it successor of GL40 chipset. Although Windows XP isn’t best solution for GN40 and its advanced features, we managed to play HD video successfully on Windows XP SP3 that was preinstalled on our ASUS Eee PC 1004DN. Windows Vista (or Windows 7) is much better solution. Nevertheless we managed to play 720p HD video with ease and 1080p after some tweaking. We always had a sense that problem isn’t in Atom CPU because it never reached 100% load during HD video playback.
Of course is not all beer and skittles, as it may seem at first glance. GN40 chipset is pricier then GSE945 and has bigger power consumption, which has impact on autonomy.
Other advantage of ASUS Eee PC 1004DN is integrated DVD recorder. This completes the story with HD video reproduction.
Rest of the configuration is not that much impressive. Hard disk drive platters rotate at 4200RPM, which is ridiculously slow. Such exclusive netbook should have much faster hard drive? Doesn’t it? Well, if there was a place for an 2.5inch hard drive, instead used 1.8inch, we are sure that ASUS would use it. Because DVD recorder took a large portion of space beneath keyboard and palm rest there was no place, unfortunately, for faster and bigger hard drive. System has 1GB of RAM memory, but since there is no second memory slot, if you decide to upgrade memory you will need to replace existing 1GB module with 2GB.
Finger print reader is another feature worth mentioning. This is feature that all business users will notice. From bunch of additional software we would like to draw you attention at Super Hybrid Engine and Font Resizer. Super Hybrid Engine supports easier change of power profiles: Power Saving, High Performance or Super Performance. Font Resizer allows easy, on the fly, change of system font size in system windows and dialogs.
ASUS Eee PC 1004DN presents complete solution that has much more functions compared to previous netbooks that we tested. On its path to success there are few obstacles. First of all we don’t know the retail price, so in case it is close to some notebooks it cannot be recommended. Secondly, new chipset did bring new features, but it also had impact on autonomy. Our sample did get slightly warmer than we liked it to be, and autonomy is good but thanks to huge, back sticking out, 6-cell battery. There are netbooks with smaller batteries and better autonomy, which is one of the decisive factors when it comes to netbooks.
Final judgment can be made only after acknowledgement of retail price. For now we can say that ASUS with Eee PC 1004DN made a step in right direction, and that this new concept definitely deserves our award.
|ASUS Eee PC 1004DN - Specification|
|CPU||Intel Atom n280 at 1.66GHz|
|Optical Drive||DVD +/- RW|
|Graphics card||Intel X4500M|
|Connectors||3xUSB, VGA, Express Card 34, Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11 b/g/N,
|ASUS Eee PC 1004DN - Results|
|PC Mark 05||1.689|
|3D Mark 03||1.371|
|HD Tach average [MB/s]||25.6|
|Battery Eater min/max||3h 21min / 5h 15min|