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Here ends the days that netbooks are claimed to be cheaply built with a plasticy feeling. Just like with the original Eee PC S101, ASUS’ latest Eee PC 1018P aims to readdress the balance of opinion and bring the chic back into owning a small 10″.

There’s no doubting that brushed aluminum has a distinct appeal on its own: it’s hardwearing and weather proof, light to carry and appealing to touch with its subtle sharpness on the figertips. In comparison, plastics look and feel, well, just not that “special”.

It’s not just the hardware inside that makes a notebook – as many Apple and Lenovo fans will also confirm – the touch factor is extremely important in differentiating a between a purchase justification feeling and a positive and happy one.

That said, inside there is some worthwhile differences in hardware, so good looks are not just skin deep;

It’s 18mm thin – the width of your thumbnail – and just 10″ and 1.2kg, so slips into most bags almost unnoticed.

Based on the latest Intel Pine Trail-M platform and ASUS Super Hybrid Engine there’s also 10 hours of battery to play with, and even Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 3.0 for the fastest possible network and mobile connectivity.

Notably the large touchpad is now multi-touch enabled, just like your smartphone, and for security there is biometric login supprt from the integrated finger-print reader and even a camera cover to stop unwanted viewing.

USB 3 – the latest standard – is also accessible via the two blue USB ports on the side (photographed above) and is in particular is worth noting because it means your Eee PC laptop is no longer restricted to just its internal storage. USB 3 now allows full hard drive or SSD performance when using external storage drives; for large 3.5″ drives that’s ~120MB/s and up to 2TB of space per disk now, but with an SSD the performance goes up to 200MB/s. Comparatively USB 2 trundles along at a lazy 30MB/s, so transferring large files – like a full drive backup, or transferring HD video, is the difference between waiting a few minutes and a couple of hours.

Without doubt the Eee PC 1018P looks like another worthy purchase in a market dominated by medoicrity; not just because it looks and feels incredible, but ASUS engineering is behind it as well.

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