ASUS’ latest netbook is dubbed as the Eee PC 1000HE. The ‘E’ in the name stands for ‘extended’, referring to an improved battery pack. The netbook is far from being the sexiest portable computer on the market – it looks like a kid’s toy rather than a slick piece of gadgetry – but it incorporates some sweet energy-saving features thanks to Intel’s Atom N280 processor and sports a fantastic battery life of 9.5 hours thanks to an 8700mAh battery and ASUS’ Super Hybrid Engine battery conservation technology. I’m sure you’ll agree, the ability to work for most of the day on a single charge is what portable computing is all about.

Available in a range of glossy finishes, ASUS sent me the ‘pearl white’ version for review. Other colours include black, pink, blue or gold. Guaranteed to divide opinions with those who believe laptops should be black (or even silver), the Eee PC 1000HE’s all-white livery made a refreshing change and gave me a rather uplifting feeling. The machine also sports a 10-inch LED backlit WSVGA LCD screen that has a native resolution of 1024×600 pixels. The integrated Intel graphics chipset actually supports resolutions up to 1600×1200, but this results in you having to scroll around the desktop in order to find the Windows menu or any shortcuts on the desktop. The Eee PC also has Windows XP Home Edition (SP3) installed and skips the Linux option. As well as Windows XP, our review unit came preloaded with the StarOffice 8 office suite, Skype and InterVideo’s WinDVD player.

The keyboard is 92% the size of a normal desktop keyboard and provides a decent level of response, but there is way too much flex. Actually, the amount of flex in the keyboard is among the greatest I have ever seen on a netbook, which is very surprising considering ASUS’s normally very high quality manufacturing. On the plus side, the 2mm to 3mm gap between keys makes it considerably easier to use than a standard netbook keyboard, on which the keys tend to be more closely grouped. The mouse trackpad is equally pleasant to use and supports multitouch gesture inputs.

The Eee PC 1000HE is great value at £329 and weighs around 1.45kg, making it very easy to carry around. Having said that, most other netbooks weigh in at around 1kg. ASUS supplies a soft black slip case, which helps to keep the machine free from dust as well as scratches. Intel’s latest processor offers a higher frequency than the Atom N270. The N280 is actually an upgraded version of the N270 and runs at 1.66GHz clock speed. The N280’s front-side bus also runs at 667MHz, as opposed to 533MHz in the case of the N270.

The Eee PC 1000HE is equipped with a 160GB 5400rpm SATA hard disk drive (plus 10GB online storage) and 1GB DDR2 RAM (upgradable to 2GB), so it’ll struggle with anything other than running basic office applications, e-mail and Web browsing. It includes a fixed 1.3-Megapixel camera in the lid, which is great for instant messaging, along with Dolby Sound Room-Certified stereo speakers. The mini-notebook is also equipped with a built-in mono microphone, three 2.0 USB ports, 10/100 Ethernet, analogue VGA output, 3.5mm headphone and audio jacks, and a MMC/SD memory card slot. As expected, there is no optical drive, FireWire, fingerprint security, or digital video outputs. Internet surfing and downloading at higher speeds over a wireless network is possible thanks to 802.11n wireless connectivity, and you can share files with others via Bluetooth 2.0. Sadly there is no integrated 3G option for Web browsing on the move, or the ability to specify a SSD (Solid State Drive).

ASUS hasn’t neglect maintenance. Installed are several of the company’s own utilities, such as ASUS Update which downloads and installs updates for the system’s BIOS, Eee InstantKey, which drives the hotkey functions such as turning wireless on/off and controlling the display brightness, and the SuperHybridEngine power management tool. There is also a pre-boot environment accessed by hitting F9 during bootup that reverts the system to its factory state, in case Windows becomes corrupted.

The Eee PC series is notable for its small display, solid-state storage and Linux-based operating system. Adding Windows XP and a SATA hard drive broadens the appeal of the Eee PC 1000HE to a wider audience, but reduces its raw performance. It’s also a shame ASUS couldn’t have somehow squeezed in a larger, 11-inch screen in order to reduce the size of the bezel. Nevertheless, the Eee PC 1000HE stands out from the crowd thanks to a fantastic battery life and a large keyboard which spans the entire width of the machine. If you are looking for a low-cost and lightweight portable computer that can be used for longer periods while on the move, the Eee PC 1000HE is a sensible choice. Its design, features or performance won’t blow you away, but for the money you’ll struggle to find a better all-round package.