New Asus netbook has it all for $400

On paper, it looks like Asus has the netbook to beat with the Eee PC 1005PR.

Amazon has started pre-orders of the 10-inch netbook for $400, and Netbooked says it should be available sometime this month.

Most 10-inch netbooks are pretty similar when it comes to specifications, and the Eee PC 1005PR is no exception, but it does include all the little things you should look for when buying a netbook. The processor is a 1.66 GHz Atom N450, the latest netbook chip from Intel. The N450 is a bit more efficient than the last generation of Intel chips, and it allows for better battery life. That could explain Asus’ claim of 11 hours on a charge for the Eee PC 1005.

New Asus netbook has it all for 0

But the most notable thing about this computer is its combination of 1366-by-768 resolution display and Broadcom Crystal HD decoder card. This should allow users to watch high-definition video on the netbook without a problem. It also means the netbook will have more vertical headroom compared to 1024-by-600 resolution netbooks. Believe me, that comes in handy when browsing the Web.

Other noteworthy specs include wireless b/g/n, Bluetooth and a 250 GB SATA hard drive. There’s 1 GB of RAM included, expandable to 2 GB, and a 0.3-megapixel Web cam.

The only downside? Windows 7 Starter, which lacks some crucial features such as desktop personalization (e.g., custom wallpapers and sounds), multi-monitor support, remote media streaming and Windows Media Center. You can blame Microsoft for those restrictions, which in some aspects make for a less capable netbook operating system than Windows XP.

But as far as $400 netbooks go, this is among the best I’ve seen in terms of specs and features. With machines this cheap, however, you’ll want to watch out for things like build quality, keyboard and mouse comfort and screen quality. If you’re considering any netbook, it may be wise to pass on Amazon and find a retailer with a friendlier return policy, one that allows you to test some of those intangibles and return the product if you’re not happy.