ASUS Eee PC 1004DN

The ASUS Eee PC 1004DN is closer to notebook than the typical ASUS Eee PC netbook

With the 1004DN, the ASUS Eee PC range has moved away from being just a simple netbook. The inclusion of a DVD burner, a fingerprint reader and an ExpressCard/34 slot all make the ASUS Eee PC 1004DN more of a traditional notebook than a netbook because you can do so much more with it. The good thing is that it is still a relatively inexpensive, 10in ultraportable notebook that's very stylish and reasonably comfortable to use.

It runs Windows XP and costs $1399. You won't be happy if you are looking for speed, but it is good value if you're looking for mobility and a good set of features. The addition of the optical drive and the ExpressCard/34 slot are the biggest advancements in the design of the Eee PC; the ExpressCard/34 slot makes it easy to install a 3G data card or a fast external storage device, while the DVD burner makes it that much easier to watch movies and install programs. The ASUS Eee PC 1004DN has a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 CPU and 1GB of RAM, so it's not going to run all of your software quickly.

As an example, it will take the ASUS Eee PC 1004DN approximately 13 minutes to rip an audio CD using iTunes, whereas a typical notebook with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU will perform the same task approximately three times quicker. The ASUS Eee PC 1004DN's CPU speed is suitable for running office applications and even for watching movies — DVDs only consume up to 11 per cent of the CPU when being decoded — and it can be used for some basic photo editing. In our MP3 encoding and Blender 3D tests, the CPU recorded times of 7min 45sec and 6min 48sec, respectively, which makes the Eee PC 1004DN a little faster than the MSI Wind U120, for example. This is despite the Eee PC 1004DN having a slower hard drive.

It has a 120GB, 4200rpm drive instead of a solid-state drive. It is not based on a Serial ATA connection (it uses a parallel ATA connection instead), and it is a 1.8in drive. This means that it won't be easy to upgrade the hard drive: 1.8in replacement drives are hard to come by, which might be a problem after the one-year warranty period expires. In our performance tests, the drive recorded a transfer rate of 15.58 megabytes per second, which is approximately 4.5MBps slower than a 2.5in, 5400rpm hard drive.

The Eee PC 1004DN is 27.6cm long, 19.5cm deep and 3.2cm thick. The keyboard's letter keys are 14mm wide and are separated by 3mm; ASUS calls this a "chiclet type" keyboard. As is the case with every 10in notebook, the keyboard is a little cramped but it's quite comfortable to type on. There is a fingerprint reader on the right side of the palm rest, but it does not get in the way when typing. After a while, the unit will get a little warm in the area where the CPU is installed, but it's not warm enough to make using it on your lap uncomfortable. There is an extraction fan and vent on the left side of the unit, and vent holes underneath the unit, too.

Despite having an optical drive and a 10in screen, the Eee PC 1004DN weighs 1.4kg and is easy to use on public transport, or at a cafe. Its 57Wh (Watt hour) battery lasted 3hr 37min in our DVD rundown test (with high brightness and the wireless adapter enabled), which is a great result. It should last even longer if you only use it to type up documents.

Its 10in screen has an LED backlight and is comfortable to view in an office environment, but it could use a bit more brightness for outdoor use. It has a native resolution of 1024x600. What we don't like is the thick bezel around the screen, which makes the screen look smaller than it is. Underneath the bezel are two antennas for the notebook's 802.11n wireless connection.

The ports you get on the ASUS Eee PC 1004DN include D-Sub, USB 2.0 (three of them), 10/100 Ethernet, headphone and microphone. You also get an SD card reader and the afore-mentioned ExpressCard/34 slot.

With plenty of style, good ease of use, an expansion slot and a DVD burner, the ASUS Eee PC 1004DN has plenty to attract business users, especially users who are constantly working on the road. It's a good tool for running presentations, creating documents and Web browsing.