Other hardware specs are fairly ordinary, with just 1GB of RAM on-hand to support the CPU. You do get a reasonable 250GB hard drive, however, which can be supplemented by a generous 500GB online storage vault, which is free for a year. Wireless networking is strong, too, with Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both available.
Asus also continues to persist with its Express Gate 'instant-on' OS. On paper it's a nice value-add and it works well enough, but its uses are so limited that we're still deeply cynical about its real worth. Of more interest is the presence of Windows 7 Starter Edition.
Those of who follow tech news will know it was once mooted to have a three application limit, a decision that has since (thankfully) been reversed. It does have other limitations however, such as the lack of the Aero theme,and its accordant benefits, as well as the inability to change the default desktop background! Even with these limitations, though, Windows 7 Starter Edition runs very well and is an improvement over XP, so we're pleased to see it here.
Despite all these changes, battery life is still the most important consideration when buying a netbook, and given Pine Trail reduces the Atom platform's power usage (GPU included) even further (down to 5.5W from 8W), it ought to be a strength. Indeed, Asus goes so far as to claim 11 hours of battery life.
In practice, we found that running a looped video file on the Seashell 1005PE at 50 per cent screen brightness with wireless turned off resulted in a battery life of around seven hours. Admittedly that doesn’t match the (nearly) eight hours delivered by the Toshiba NB200, which was based on the older Atom platform, but it’s excellent considering the battery used here is a six-cell 48 Watt-hour (4,400mAh) model compared to the NB200’s 63 Watt-hour one.
This is impressive, but not impressive enough to ignore cheaper pre-Pine Trail netbooks, many of whom now retail for around £220 compared to the £300 of the 1005PE. One must also consider the HP Compaq Mini 311c, whose 11.6in chassis houses within it nVidia's ION chipset - thus adding 1080p video playback, CUDA acceleration and HDMI video out - for just a fraction more.
While it doesn’t bring the changes we had hoped for, Intel’s new Atom platform and the N450 processor combine with Windows 7 to elevate the Asus Eee PC 1005PE above its predecessors. However, though it can handle 720p video and uses less power, the 1005PE's benefits aren't substantial enough to make it a must buy.