The N10 was designed by the laptop division within Asus, rather than the company’s Eee PC team. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that it makes use of laptop components and looks more like one of the company’s sexy ultra-portables than a traditional netbook.
Design and usability
The N10 is slightly larger than most netbooks, but its glossy champagne end makes sure that it’s something of a head-turner. We also like the keyboard. It’s one of the best you’ll find on any netbook, as the keys are well spaced out and have excellent travel. The trackpad is impressive too. It’s super-smooth, so your finger glides across it effortlessly, and there are dedicated scroll strips for speedily scrolling through Web pages and documents.
If there’s one area where the N10 can’t be faulted, it’s connectivity. The standard netbook staples are covered, so you get wireless-n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, three USB ports and a VGA socket. There are also some clean extras, such as the HDMI socket that makes it simple to hook the N10 up to a flat-screen TV, and the headphone jack that doubles as an S/PDIF socket, so you can connect it to a set of surround-sound speakers.
Performance and battery life
The N10’s inner gubbins also represent something of a departure from the netbook norm. Along with standard netbook components like an Atom N270 processor and GMA 950 graphics chip, Asus has added a second laptop graphics chip that you can switch on and off via a button on the front. This Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS chip is powerful enough to handle games like Half-Life 2 and allows the netbook to play high-definition video. What’s more, instead of the usual 1GB of RAM, Asus has kitted the N10 out with 2GB, which gives the Windows Vista Business OS room to stretch its legs. All this extra grunt shortens battery life slightly, but the N10 still lasted for a respectable 2 hours and 48 minutes in Battery Eater’s Classic test.
Should I buy it?
If you want a netbook that offers significantly more power than your average model, but don’t want to go up to a traditional ultra-portable, the N10 is a cracking choice.