In a sea of nearly interchangeable 10.1-inch netbooks, the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17 stands out for one thing: Express Gate, a nearly instant-on auxiliary operating system that allows quick access to the web, online gaming, Skype, IM, and your photos.
If you remember the first Linux-based netbooks, you've got the idea. To boot to Express Gate, you start the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17 using a secondary power button (which has no light) on the upper left hand side of the keyboard deck. Booting to Windows 7 Starter is accomplished via the normal lighted power button on the upper right hand side.
After Express Gate, the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17 leans mostly towards the mundane. You get the current popular netbook components: an Intel Atom N450 processor with an integrated 3150 GPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and a 160GB hard drive. The ports are also the typical lineup for a 10.1-inch unit: three USB, one VGA, one AC, one 10/100 ethernet jack, a single SDHC slot, plus audio in/out and a Kensington lock port.
The Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17 is styled in an all-black colour scheme broken up by only a silver rocker button for the trackpad and a checkerboard pattern on the upper shell and lower deck. It looks as if it would be more at home in a boardroom than in a coffee shop. That's not a complaint, just a word of warning to those who might want to wow style-conscious friends with their new purchase.
The netbook weighs 1.26kg, about average for this category of netbook with a six-cell battery. If weight is more of a concern than run time, you can drop that to 1.01kg with a three-cell battery. One caveat: if you're looking to upgrade performance with an SSD, you might want to skip the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17. Unlike most netbooks, it has no access panel for the hard drive. On the other hand, it has an access panel to the memory if you want to upgrade the SODIMM.
Overall, the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17 felt as snappy as an N450-based netbook can running Windows 7 - you can live with it, but that's all. The WorldBench 6 performance of 34, while a point higher than most, bears that out. Video performance was a tad worse than average. The webcam's image was decently smooth, and the unit had no problem playing QuickTime or Flash HD video locally. However, MP4 and WMV were a stuttering mess, as was online Flash video. Online Flash gaming was jerky to the point of distraction. Battery life was a solid 6 hours and 50 minutes - not the best we've seen, but more than enough to get you from coast to coast.
The keyboard on the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17 has a crisp feel, and the oversized left/right cursor keys might eliminate some of the hunting some users might otherwise experience. The touchpad was also exceptionally well-adjusted for tapping. If you hate accidental tap-clicks, give this unit a try to see if it doesn't eliminate those issues.
Asus bundles Microsoft Works with the Asus Eee PC 1001p-MU17, which should cover most user's needs well enough, though a 60-day trial version of Office 2007 is also included, for users looking for a little more oomph, and you'll find Skype installed, as well. Asus has been admirably restrained in placing useless software on the desktop. You won't see the eBay shortcuts or obsolete Google Desktop that some vendors pile on.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>