Look and feel
Surrounding the netbook are three USB ports along with an Ethernet, HDMI, and VGA jacks. The right edge holds a 4-in-1 media card reader, a headphone and mic / headphone socket. The overall build quality is pretty standard for a plastic ASUS system -- it feels like it could withstand it's fair share of bumps and bruises, but it's still feels like a toy in comparison to something like a Nokia Booklet 3G or the 11.6-inch MacBook Air.
Keyboard, touchpad, and screen
The wide touchpad is coated in the same smooth plastic as the lid and palmrest -- it's not as fun as the one's with raised dots that ASUS used for awhile, but it's still quite comfortable on your index finger. Multitouch gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling, do work, but are expectedly jittery and flaky. The single mouse button is a bit mushy, but it's certainly better than the rock solid one we saw on the 1018P.
If the 1015PN and the 1015PE were put in a police lineup, we'd be able to tell them apart by one thing and one thing only -- the 1015PN's matte display. Yep, the 10.1-inch, 1024x600-resolution LCD isn't coated with a distracting gloss layer, and its pretty great. We actually happen to think that actually improves the viewablity of the panel at most angles -- we didn't have any issues discerning colors when we tilted the screen back and sharing the bright screen with a friend was no problem. And because you never know who could be watching you, the 1015PN has a VGA webcam with a slide-over camera cover. The speakers on the bottom front of the system are typically tinny, but still loud enough for personal listening.
Performance and graphics
|ASUS Eee PC 1015PN (Atom N550, Ion 2)||1785||151/1495|
|ASUS Eee PC 1215N (Atom D525, Ion 2)||1942||181/2480|
|ASUS Eee PC 1201N (Atom N330, Ion)||N/A
|ASUS Eee PC 1015PE (Atom N450)||1365 (PCMark05)||154|
|Dell Inspiron M101z (Athlon II Neo K325)||2572||1311|
|Acer Aspire One 721 (Athlon II Neo K125)
|Lenovo IdeaPad U160 (Core i7 ULV)||3863||1175|
|Notes: the higher the score the better. For Ion 2 netbooks, the first number reflects score with GPU off, the second with it on.
Of course, the CPU doesn't have to do it all on its own, and the discrete NVIDIA Ion graphics sure do help with graphics intensive stuff, like streaming Flash video at full screen, watching local HD content and light gaming. Like we saw with the 1215N, the benchmarks topple Intel's integrated graphics and rival AMD's ATI Radeon HD 4225 platform, which we've seen in similar systems like the Acer Aspire One 521. You will notice that the 1015PN didn't score as high as the 1215N on the 3DMark06 -- besides the 1215N having a faster processor it also has a faster version of Ion that's meant for larger 11.6- and 12-inch systems. Still, with the discrete GPU turned on, the little machine had no problem not only playing a 1080p on its screen, but also on a 40-inch HDTV when we hooked it up via HDMI. If gaming is your thing, the 1015PN managed to let us grab a gun and shoot around in Battlefield Heroes at 28fps. Although, we should note that loading up this game and World of Warcraft was sluggish -- the processor just wasn't made for this sort of thing.
Battery life and software
Ultimately, that means that you lose the benefits of longer battery life, which is a pretty big bummer since when the Ion GPU is on, the netbook's six-cell, 56Wh battery only lasts around four and a half hours on a charge. Obviously, switching to the integrated lengthened the runtime, and on our video rundown test, which loops the same standard definition movie at 65 percent brightness, the system lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes. Of course, that's not bad in comparison to the 1215N's five hours and 42 minutes, but it's shorter than the HP Mini 5103's six hours.
|ASUS Eee PC 1015PN (GPU on/off)
||4:07 / 5:53|
|ASUS Eee PC 1018P||4:40|
|ASUS Eee PC 1215N||5:42|
|HP Mini 5103||6:10|
|ASUS Eee PC 1005PE||8:10|
|Toshiba Mini NB305||6:30|
|Acer Aspire One 521||4:02|
We should also mention that the system gets slightly hotter than other netbooks we've tested -- the left vent blew out warm air more often than not and the bottom left side of the machine warmed up our leg. Because somebody refuses to turn on the heat in our office we didn't necessarily mind it, but most people have heat, right?
Unsurprisingly, ASUS loads up the machine with proprietary software and some other stuff, including CyberLink's YouCam software and a shortcut to Bonigo's WiFi service. Along with the typical EeeDock, which is locked to the top of the screen, the machine comes with ASUS' Splendid photo editing software and some new Games Park suite of downloadable games -- the preloaded Chicken Invaders 2 game is actually quite entertaining. It also comes with a VIBE Fun Center, which we'd describe more as slow than "fun." It took over a minute to launch the software and then about another minute to access the library of music and video content. There's also ASUS' ExpressGate Cloud instant-on OS, which you can boot into by pressing the lighting button above the keyboard.
Eee PC 1015PN
- Bright, matte display
- New dual-core Atom netbook processor
- Speedy NVIDIA Ion graphics
- Must reboot to switch graphics card
- Lots of preloaded software
- Gets warmer than other netbooks