Handling, design and build: nice materials, well-finished
The Asus Eee PC 1018P confirms its pretensions to luxury on first sight. We particularly like the brushed aluminium surfaces which give the machine a certain rigidity and robustness. It is in any case more solid and prestigious that the more common plastic designs.
Our test model was entirely black and had a brushed aluminium hood, whereas the white version only has a hood in plastic. Sobriety is the word with this Eee PC 1018P. The screen surround repeats the brushed aluminium look, though it is in plastic. Generally speaking, the finish is excellent and has nothing to envy more expensive laptops.
The keyboard takes up the whole width of the netbook. The small space keys (14 x 13 mm) give nice keying and are on the quiet side. It's a shame that the "Ctrl" left and "Shift" (capital) buttons are shortened however.
The multi-touch touchpad is really wide (76 x 53 mm). The glide is fluid, rapid and precise, so much so that it's a pleasure to use. You can easily do without the mouse when you're in a cramped space. It stands out from the wrist rest by its matte and soft surface, which also however takes on something of the aspect of brushed aluminium. The left and right clicks are integrated into the surface and you just press on the lower part of the touchpad to get them to work. They are however separated by a slim silver bar.
The image quality of the webcam is fine when you take into account the low resolution (0.3 Mpixels). Note however the weak contrast and a tendency to over-exposure of the light areas of the image. The fluidity isn't perfect but sufficeint for occasional usage. Note also an innovation in the new netbooks in the Seashell range, of which the 1018p is one: there is now a cover to go over the webcam lens, which allows you to cut the image rapidly without deactivating the webcam.
The fan, is efficient and quiet. The Asus Eee PC 1018P is very discreet in office doc usage and hardly any noisier during heavier calculations (photo retouching, video editing).
Connectivity is pretty standard, though there are a few innovations. There are 3 USB 2.0 ports, an RJ45 (reduced height format), a VGA, a headphones and a microphone socket and a 2-in1 card reader. Bluetooth 3.0 has been introduced, while Wi-Fi b/g/n is naturally included. The only thing lacking are USB 3.0 ports that we'd like to see more widely available. Note also the anti-theft port, poorly placed unfortunately, too close to the wrist rest and where the cable lock could partially obstruct the fan.
Access to components is limited to a panel behind which the RAM is placed. The battery can be removed but you have to dismantle the netbook completely to gain access to other components and clean the fans.
||Touchpad and click bar
|VGA, USB 2.0, fan, anti-theft
||Card reader, headphones, mic, 2 USB 2.0s, RJ45
Processing: office doc work and internet
The Asus Eee PC 1018P has an Intel Atom N455 processor. Unlike the N450 it has DDR3 support. In practice however, this changes practically nothing and performance levels are still just as low.
Our test protocol is now based on the one used for processors. It's no surprise that the Atom N455 used here scores 20 on our index, compared to 100 for our reference machine, the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400). The resulting rating for processing is therefore just 1 star. This netbook, then, has been designed for office doc and internet usage. You can extend this to photo retouching and video editing as long as you have plenty of patience and time as such processing will take between 3 and 6 times as long as on a standard laptop.
You won't be able to play HD 1080p (Blu-Ray equivalent) on this machine but will have to make do with DVD or DivX type compressed videos. The graphics part is limited to HD 720p video, which is really a shame when you know that the older Poulsbo platform (Intel Atom Z series processors) gives 1080p video playback.
3D gaming: old games or 2D titles
Generally speaking, gaming on netbooks is only for real enthusiasts willing to put up with highly compromised quality. Only models with ATI or NVIDIA ION graphics chips can handle a few recent games and even then as long as the CPU doesn't cut down performance too much (a single core Intel Atom is insufficient).
Audio: get the headphones out!
No surprises here, the sound is poor when you use the netbook's own speakers: dominance of high-end, lack of bass and not enough detail. Thankfully, the headphones out allows you to enjoy your music and films under decent conditions.
Mobility, battery life: almost six hours
In spite of being just 2 cm wide, the Asus engineers have managed to get a 5000 mAh battery into this Eee PC 1018P. The results are excellent: 5h56 video playback time (Wi-Fi deactived, headphones plugged in and brightness at 100 cd/m²). In comparison, the slimline, designer Asus Eee PC 1008P KR gives 6h12 but with 2 batteries!
The 1018P is an impressive 1.1 Kg and never thicker than 21.9 mm. The charger is still just as compact (82 x 32 x 26 mm) and can easily be fitted into your bag.