While connectivity is still identical to the original Eee PC, ergonomically modern netbooks are far superior and this is largely true of the 1005PE. Its chiclet keyboard has an excellent layout, while the keys sport a pleasant matte surface, are well spaced and exhibit decent travel. Unfortunately some noticeable flex combines with a distracting rattle to mar the experience. It’s still perfectly useable, but it could be better.
Thankfully the wide multi-touch touchpad gives little reason for compliant. It is differentiated from its surroundings only by a textured surface of tiny bumps, which works well despite offering an odd tactile experience. It’s as sensitive as you could wish and multi-touch works well, though the touchpad is a tad small for gestures like 'rotate'. The pad’s buttons, integrated into a single chromed rocker switch below it, are both well-defined and easy to press.
As for the 10.1in display, it's the usual 1,024 x 600 resolution affair, but it bucks recent trends in sticking with a non-reflective matte finish. Its colour fidelity and richness is nothing to shout about and viewing angles are merely adequate, but text is very sharp and it's bright enough to be used in well-lit environments.
Special mention must also be made of the stereo speakers, an area in which Eee PCs have always been strong. Obviously they’re rather lacking in bass, but nonetheless even the most intense soundtracks are produced with a clarity and finesse few netbooks can match. As a colleague across the office remarked, they sound a sight better than the ones on his 13in laptop.
All of which is promising, but it's time to talk about the 1005PE's main selling point: Intel's new Pine Trail architecture. We won't bore you with the full story here, but the basics are that the NM10 chipset moves the memory controller and integrated graphics onto the CPU die, resulting in cheaper manufacturing costs, less complex designs requiring less space, and significantly lower power usage than the already-frugal original Atom.
Don't come expecting a massive performance increase, though. Intel’s Atom N450 CPU is still a single-core chip and has the same 1.66GHz clock speed of its predecessor, the N280. However, aided by Windows 7’s more robust support for GPU video acceleration, we finally have an Atom platform that can natively handle 720p video – hurrah!
No matter what 720p material we threw at it, the Seashell 1005PE played it back okay. CPU usage is admittedly high (in the 70 to 100% range), so you can't have anything running in the background, but it does work. Of course HD flash video still runs like dodgy stop-frame animation and Full HD video is out of question too, but 720p playback is better than none by any stretch.