ASUS Eee PC 1004DN reviewed: GN40 graphics let down by XP

ASUS' Eee PC 1004DN is one of the first generally available netbooks to include an integrated optical drive, something which has split opinions among aficionados of the segment.  HKEPC have been playing with the Intel Atom N280/GN40 netbook and, while on paper it's an impressive prospect, the reality is that hardware and software just don't tally up quite yet.

Intel's GN40 graphics chipset promises improved HD support and general improvements over the more typical GMA950 chipset; however as we now know, it requires Vista or above in order to make the most of its capabilities.  In keeping with most netbooks, however, ASUS install Windows XP; the HKEPC team found that means hardware video decoding is pretty much off the table.

In the end, it sounds like the ASUS Eee PC 1004DN demands too many compromises.  The optical drive is useful, yes, but the fact that the GN40 chipset either requires you to give up on the more advanced graphics it supports if you want to stick with Windows XP, or suffer reduced performance overall by opting for the graphically more-capable Vista, is a decision many won't be interested in making.  Factor in the higher cost, and the imminence of Windows 7 (which should support both the better graphics and faster overall performance), and it's not looking good for the 1004DN.