As already mentioned, on the design front little has changed from previous Sea-shell models like the 1005PE, and that's no bad thing, as it was a very attractive design to begin with. The thin lid and sharply tapered edges give a very sleek impression, while chromed highlights and blue LEDs complement its glossy black and white aesthetic. Mind you, if white's not your thing the 1015PEM is also available with red or blue lids or all in piano black, though we would probably stick with white because it shows off fingerprints the least.
Build quality on most of the machine is good, though above the keyboard there's significant creak and more flex than we would like. If you're after something a little more rugged, it might be worth considering the Samsung NB30 or even Dell's Latitude 2100.
Asus' netbook keyboards have never lived up to the superb example provided by HP with the likes of its Compaq Mini line, and unfortunately that hasn't changed here. Layout is decent while key feedback is actually surprisingly deep and positive for a chiclet-style keyboard, but the keys are too small to be comfortable.
At least the multi-touch touchpad is a pleasure to use. Tastefully delineated by two flush chrome strips, it's large and responsive but doesn't interfere with typing. The pad's buttons, integrated into a large chromed rocker switch, offer excellent feedback though they suffer from a large central 'dead zone' which makes right-clicks more strenuous than they should be.
Getting to the 10.1in screen, as usual we're dealing with a sub-HD Ready 1,024 x 600 resolution. Black levels and dark detailing is surprisingly impressive, despite Asus thankfully foregoing that glossy screen coating we love to hate. We could just about differentiate between the two darkest shades in our test pattern on the 1015PEM, though inevitably white purity takes a noticeable hit.
Combined with excellent sharpness, unusually good horizontal viewing angles and minimal banding, watching films would be a pleasure were it not for noticeable light bleed from the bottom and side edges - in fact, this is the worst case of it we've come across in quite some time. Still, the display is excellent for productivity, and if you can ignore the bleed it does a decent job for entertainment too.
Audio was loud but not particularly refined, suffering from distortion and a lack of clarity at its maximum. Turning the volume down improved things, but bass was still almost completely lacking. It's usable but by no means best in class.