We’ve already established that netbooks are power-efficient and are very affordable. Prices have dropped further over the last year. With the introduction of dual-core Atom processors on some of these models, users expect better performance as well. We've got our hands on the ASUS Eee PC 1015PEM. Let’s see whether this dual-core Atom powered netbook stands out from the rest or not.
ASUS hasn’t played around too much with the design on the 1015PEM. It comes with a matte finish and one look at it will tell you that the design is pretty similar to that of the 1018P, except for its metallic finish. The design is sleek and the 1015PEM is not too heavy to carry.
Placement of the USB ports and audio connectors is well thought of. A slight qualm was that inserting a USB drive into its port was a little too tight for comfort.
Ergonomic, but small Shift and Function keys
Ergonomically, the 1015PEM is convenient to use. The Chiclet keyboard design is unique when it comes to netbooks – the isolated keys which are well spaced out. The Shift and the Function keys however are a little too small for our liking. The trackpad does not feel sensitive enough but that maybe because of the finish of the trackpad. Overall though, the Eee PC 1015PEM is designed ergonomically and has a good style quotient.
In terms of hardware, the netbook has a standard configuration which consists of a dual-core Atom N550 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz. The 320 GB is larger than most 160GB hard drive netbooks usually have to offer so there’s enough room for your movies and music too. WiFi 802.11n is supported and so is Bluetooth 3.0. Obviously, you’ll need compatible devices and routers to take advantage of the speed benefits. The netbook comes preloaded with Windows 7 Starter Edition.
Switch for webcam is convenient
There are a few small but nifty features on the 1015PEM. For one, there's a physical WiFi switch which means you won’t have to depend on keyboard shortcuts to turn the WiFi on or off. There’s even a switch to turn the webcam on or off. The Ethernet port is positioned on the right side of the netbook and due to the thin profile of the netbook, there’s an extendable flap that opens up when you plug in the Ethernet cable. Speakers are placed at the bottom in the front and are not very loud.
Another convenient feature
We ran a standard set of benchmarks that we use on notebooks. We excluded some of the high-end game benchmarks on purpose. The performance of the dual core processor didn't match our expectations, unfortunately. CPU performance was average in general. This was evident through the Cinebench, POVRay and video encoding test scores. The performance is still way behind an entry-level dual core processor laptop for example. Hard drive performance was surprisingly decent. We recorded write speeds peaking at around 57MB/s which is very good for a netbook. Overall, the performance is better than a single core netbook.
The quality of the LCD screen is good for a netbook – colours are decent and viewing angles good. Black levels are pretty bad. The camera doesn’t support a very high resolution but it works rather well – frame rates are smooth and still pictures are decent even in average lighting conditions.
The ASUS Eee PC 1015PEM is priced at Rs. 20,999, which is decent for a dual core processor netbook. You don’t get a whole lot more for the additional price but at the same time, it’s not much more than a single core processor netbook. We like the nifty features that ASUS has put into this product but a slightly updated design would be good to see.