There are a couple of things we really like about the Hercules eCafe EC1000W netbook, which runs Windows 7 and sports a 10.1-inch screen. It's got a nicely spaced keyboard for its size, and has Wireless N built right into it. There are also areas in which we wished the latest eCafe was a little beefier, such as with its 1GB of RAM and the same Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor the $320 ASUS Eee PC Seashell has in it. What's neither good or bad, however, is its odd storage situation.
That's where the asterisk comes in. Only 250 gigabytes of the aforementioned 300 is on the laptop. The missing 50GB is, curiously, offered up through the eCafe online portal, where you can store whatever you like. Of course, storage like that isn't free forever, and after the first year you're going to have to start paying for it. (Hercules didn't have a price for us yet, it's still being worked out.) You could always ignore that extra storage by never signing up for it, as we understand it.
With all that in mind, the eCafe appears o be a capable contender in the netbook space. It didn't seem to bottleneck running Windows 7, though we didn't get to try too many processor intensive applications. The eCafe has its own suite of proprietary applications for managing updates, email and messaging that puts it all up front — accessibility that casual users attracted to netbooks may appreciate.
The Hercules eCafe is available now for the aforementioned $400.