Most netbooks on the market today use the same hardware inside, which means that 95% of all netbooks on the market have performance within small percentages of each other. One of the few places that a netbook can still set itself apart from the crowd today is in its appearance.
I am going to look at the latest netbook from Hercules today. If you have never heard of Hercules, the company is more known for its video game controllers than computers. The Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W may have the same hardware on the inside that most netbooks run, but it does look different from the masses on the outside.
Shoppers looking for a netbook that won't look like every other netbook that is launched may want to check the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W out. The guys will want to know that the floral design on the lid does make the machine a bit feminine looking. Check out the rest of the review for all of the details on the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W.
Specifications, Availability, and PricingSpecifications, Availability, and Pricing
The Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W I am checking out today sells for $399 on Amazon.com. The netbook packs in the hardware you expect to see on a netbook today. Get the full details below.
The Hercules eCAFE EC-1000WThe Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W
The top lid of the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W is blue and has a floral print on the side. I like the more boxy and squared lid design more than the rounded and boring design on most netbooks.
The bottom of the netbook has cooling grates and expansion covers.
Certainly, the worst thing about the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W is its small keyboard. The keyboard should take up all the room available on a netbook.
The screen is a glossy unit, as I expect on notebooks and netbooks today.
The right side of the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W has VGA out, AC input, Kensington lock port, memory card reader, a USB port, RJ45 connection and a modem port.
The left side of the netbook has two USB ports and the mic and headphone jacks. The white button on the hinge is the power button.
The back of the machine is bare, but you can see the attractive squared edges of the machine and the silver trim that offsets the blue lid.
Benchmarks - Battery Life, Audio and Video EncodingBenchmarks - Battery Life, Audio and Video Encoding
The Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W will be ran through the standard netbook test regime here at Tweaktown, including Battery Eater Pro, iTunes Encoding and Windows Media Encoder. The first test up is Battery Eater Pro.
Battery Eater Pro
Battery Eater Pro is very hard on batteries so you are likely to get more run time in the real world, depending on how you use the machine. For the power saving mode test I run the machine with the screen at 50% brightness and no power saving features. The performance mode test is run at the same settings, but the screen is at 100% brightness. Check out the chart below for the full results. The Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W did decently on this benchmark.
Version and / or Patch Used: 18.104.22.168
Developer Homepage: http://www.apple.com
Product Homepage: http://www.apple.com/itunes
For the iTunes encoding test I take the Stone Temple Pilots Core CD in MP3 format and encode it to AAC format using iTunes and time the results with a stopwatch. The eCAFE turned in a good performance for the category. Check out the chart below for the results.
Windows Media Encoder
Version and / or Patch Used: 9
Developer Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com
Product Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx
For the movie encoding test I take the HD Microsoft Magic of Flight video and encode it to DVD quality video with CD quality audio using Windows Media Encoder. The eCAFE was right where I expected a netbook with its hardware to be in this benchmark.
Hands OnHands On
When I first pulled the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W from its package, I really liked the squared edges of the netbook with the silver and blue color scheme going on. I could have done without the floral print on the side of the lid, which makes the machine look a bit too feminine for my tastes. After opening the lid of the netbook up I realized what the big issue with the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W will be for many netbook users -- the keyboard is tiny.
Most netbooks in the 10.1-inch screen range are able to cram in keyboards over 90% of full size. For some reason Hercules decided to go with a keyboard that looks better than the average netbook keyboard, but has tiny keys. The small keys make typing on the netbook much less comfortable than any other netbook in the size range I have tested.
Keys this small are typically reserved for netbooks in the 7 to 8-inch screen range. The part that seems so strange about the keyboard is that there is plenty of space to make the keys larger, Hercules just didn't. The size of the keys is a big issue for me, but tactile feel from the keys is decent and the keys are all where they are supposed to be.
The screen is glossy as I mentioned before and will produce glare in bright rooms. The glossy screen does well on video playback with good colors and skin tones. Without HD capable graphics the machine won't be showing your favorite HD clips, but SD clips and YouTube look good.
The sound system is average for the class with good volume and sound skewed mostly towards mid-range sounds with decent highs and no bass. The track pad sits in a slight recess in the center of the wrist rest. The buttons are split and sit directly below the track pad. The buttons are recessed a bit too much for my tastes, I often found I was hitting the edge of the recess rather than the buttons when trying to press them.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
I think that for most people the keyboard on the Hercules eCAFE EC-1000W is going to be an issue. People with larger hands will find it harder to deal with than others.
For a child or a woman with smaller fingers, they may be able to type on the eCAFE with more ease than I was able to. For a guy with average sized hands, these keys are simply too small for comfort.
The keyboard is really holding what is otherwise a perfectly workable netbook back.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de