Netbooks were once the dangerous upstarts of the laptop scene. Like Rik Mayall in the 80s. However, time has softened their impact. Now that netbooks are a consumer tech institution, devices like the Asus Eee 1018P risk making no impact whatsoever if they can't stick out from the crowd. This Eee Pad's USP is style.
With a 10.1in screen, 1GB RAM and 1.83GHz single-core Intel Atom N475 processor, the Asus Eee PC 1018P's basic specs do not offer anything out of the norm. With an aluminium-coated keyboard surface and lightly-textured case though, its looks and build are a cut above. At just 18mm thick and 1.2kg, the aluminium finery has not added significantly to the netbook's bulk.
The metal top to the palm rest and keyboard surround has completely removed any flex in this area - which is where you notice it most - giving the device an instantly high quality feel. The trackpad has a brushed metal finish while the keyboard zone is anodised. Both textures are fairly subtle though, so the difference doesn't stick out too clearly.
Connectivity is mostly bang up-to-date, with two USB 3.0 ports and Bluetooth 3.0 on-board, alongside a VGA out, additional USB 2.0 socket, Ethernet port, mic/headphone jacks and the multi-format card reader. There's one glaring omission though - HDMI. The VGA output lets you connect the Asus 1018p to an external monitor, but to watch the occasional HD video file on telly, we'd have liked to see an HDMI included. Granted, it's not supported by the chipset but there are plenty of HDMI netbooks out there nowadays.
This void-like feeling is made worse by the inclusion of some superfluous features, such as the fingerprint reader on the front and the sliding lens cover for the woefully underpowered 0.2 megapixel webcam. We'd have traded both in for another video output.
We're not quite as willing to give away all of the Asus 1018P's window dressings though. A software tweak allows for USB charging even when the netbook's off. It's disabled by default as it eats into the battery, but could prove a lifesaver if you find your smartphone is out of juice on the way to meet someone.