I just fell in love with a laptop, and for the first time since the IBM Thinkpad T40, it isn't a Mac.
The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE 10-Inch Netbook is exactly what I want in a Netbook and here's why... and what Apple could do with this hardware.
Today's NetBooks are a bit too slow. The 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, which is in just about every NetBook out there, can't do video very well and lags often enough when typing or opening programs to get annoying. The update in the Intel Atom N280 is just enough (especially with the faster 667MHz front side bus. memory and GN40 chipset) to get the job done. Coupled with the new processor, the 1000HE also has a much denser battery pack which ASUS says can ride 9.5 hours (real world is closer to 8 hours). Wow, perfect.
While I would happily shell out a few extra bucks for two or more GB of RAM, the Hard Drive really hits the sweet spot. My $1500 Unibody MacBook has the same 160GB that this $370 Netbook has. Hrmph.
The comparisons to the MacBook don't stop there. This thing has 3 USB ports compared to my MacBook's 2 (and the Air's 1). It also has Bluetooth and 802.11N networking. The screen, at 10 inches and 1024x600 pixels compares pretty well to my MacBook's 13 inch 1280x800 pixels. The Eee only has a 92% sized keyboard as well. These are the sacrifices you make when getting a laptop that can fit into a purse.
The Eee also has an SD Card slot which Apple doesn't think I want. If wanting an SD card slot is wrong, I don't want to be right. It makes uploading photos and videos a snap.
Of course the Eee PCs aren't made to the exacting standards with which Apple's new unibody MacBooks are. They aren't going to bounce off the floor when you drop them and they are much more likely to break during normal usage. Aesthetics are important, too: they aren't nearly as sleek.
But Apple if they chose to start with this computer as a foundation could turn out quite a cool little product that would keep us Mac users from defecting to ASUS. They could even charge their 30% margins for the polish.
Here's what I see:
- 2GB of RAM with an option to 4GB. DDR3? Sure!
- Put a nice little aluminum enclosure on there that makes it stronger and lighter - and Mac-ier
- Put some NVIDIA ION kit in there to blow the doors off the rest of the pack
- MacOSX, obviously, with optimized drivers
That's it really. 30% margins make this a $500 machine. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Alas, I don't think it will ever exist, Apple is probably going ARM with its Netbooks.