Since Asus kickstarted the modern netbook market, it is only apt that it has now released one of the world's first dual-core mini-laptops. The Eee PC 1201N is the most powerful netbook we have seen so far and further blurs the line between laptop and netbook.
The use of a 12.1-inch screen – rather than the 10-inch screen usually seen on netbooks – means the machine straddles a fine line between netbook and ultraportable laptop. This is becoming more common as netbooks move away from their initial small and cheap remit.
Powered by a dual-core Intel Atom processor previously only seen in compact desktop PCs, performance doubles that seen from previous netbooks. While it still can't match the power of a full-sized laptop, software is able to start faster and run smoother than on any other netbook.
The use of Nvidia's ION technology allows a dedicated graphics card to be fitted, rather than the low-powered integrated graphics common in netbooks. Regular and demanding gaming and media editing is still out of reach, but video and online Flash content streams smoothly.
Although some models in the Eee PC range have greatly impressed us with their all-day mobility, the raw power on offer here impacts somewhat on battery life. With that said, we were able to keep working for nearly five hours, which will prove ample for most users.
The chassis retains the sleek look of previous Asus Seashell-branded machines. Slim dimensions and curved edges make this one of the most stylish netbooks around, although the glossy plastics aren't quite as resilient as we would have liked.
The wide keyboard uses the now ubiquitous isolated-style layout, with each key cut through an individual hole in the chassis. Usability is excellent, with all keys moving with a firm and short motion.
The 12.1-inch screen proves average, with poor brightness making the panel quite dull. It is sufficiently sharp, however, with decent colour and contrast, so will suit most basic use. The glossy Super-TFT coating is not too reflective, so decent visibility is provided at all times.
Continuing its run of providing nonstandard netbook components, the 250GB hard drive betters the usual 160GB disks seen in older netbooks. An HDMI port is also in place for connecting the 1201N to an HDTV when you're back at home.
While the 1201N fails to redefine the netbook market as dramatically as we would have hoped, it is the most powerful mini-laptop we've seen to date. With its large screen and dual-core power, however, we question whether it really qualifies as a netbook in the first place.
Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview