Today most netbooks are the same in their basic setup, including the 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP. The only notable differences among netbook configurations are the drives – the solid-state drive and the large capacity spinning drive and the keyboard layout. Screen sizes are even becoming more standardized at 9-10inches. It seems the only one breaking the technology mold these days is the Asus N10. You may pay a bit more, but the Asus N10 is unique among netbooks, particularly for its distinct switch able graphics and extra ports.
This is a 10.2 -inch system from the company that started the netbook craze with their Eee PC. The Asus N10 features the noted CPU, RAM and OS. The biggest difference in the Asus N10 is the added Nvidia GeForce 9300 graphics card. This is the first graphics offered on a netbook and it is possible to switch between the GeForce graphics and the integrated Intel graphics.
Netbooks are mostly used for basic tasks, surfing the web and emailing; however, the Asus N10 is an great sturdy travel accessory if you enjoy casual gaming or if you are a PC game addict who can live with limited screen resolution and lower-power CPU.
There are a few different configurations available in Australia of the N10. The N10JC-HV006 runs about AU$1,099 complete with a XP Home, a 160GB hard drive, 1GB RAM, a bag and mouse. The N10J-HV024C runs about $1,199 with Windows Vista Home Premium, a 250GB hard drive, 2GB RAM without any accessories. The N10J-HV009G runs about AU$300 more, but the only difference between this and the N10J-HV024C model is a bag and a mouse. If you don’t need the extra bag and mouse, Harvey Norman has an exclusive model that sells for AU$999.
The N10 has a keyboard with large flat keys for maximum typing area. It is not as good as HP Mini 1000 keyboard, which is excellent, but much better than those netbooks with the tiny keys. The keyboard on the Asus N10 has also corrected the right shift key, which was a problem with the Asus S101 model. The screen is also a little bigger than the ten inches (10.2) and has a LCD widescreen display that allows for more workspace and 1,024×600 native resolution. Although this is readable, most documents and web pages require the reader to scroll to view the document. This is also a somewhat awkward resolution for games and video content.
There is HDMI and an ExpressCard slot included and these seem to be appreciated by users and the N10 is the one of the only netbooks we have seen that offers these.
The big extra in the N10 is the Nvidia GeForce – 9300M GS GPU. When the GPU is turned on, a software application, which is included, lets you switch to different power-saving modes. This primarily has to do with when the display and hard drives will power down. When you are away from an AC outlet or want to extend battery life, there is a switch on the left side that turns the GeForce 9300 off. (You will need to reboot to make this change.)
The N10 performed in a similar way to other Atom-powered netbooks on benchmark tests. Watching HD video content files was strenuous on the Atom CPU and had an uneven playback even with the graphics on; however, there was no problem with the standard-definition video files. It was possible to work with images in Photoshop without slowing down the system; however, the screen resolution was too low to run a Photoshop test properly.
Gaming performance must be viewed realistically. You cannot expect much from an Atom CPU and 1GB of RAM, however with the Asus N10, Unreal Tournament III was a fairly good experience and certainly playable after we dialed down the resolution to 800×600 to get 29 frames per second and kept the detail level at medium.
The Asus’ netbooks are known for their excellent battery life. (It takes big six-cell batteries). In a video playback test, it lasted 3hrs.17 min.- better than other netbooks.
Summary of Review: Overall rating – 8.
o Graphics chips are switchable, dedicated, and integrated
o Good keyboard
o Extended battery life
o Useful additions, including the HDMI port and ExpressCard slot
o Real gamers need higher screen resolution
o Not ideal for graphics-heavy applications/ gaming due to underpowered Intel Atom CPU