Asus Eee PC Seashell 1005HA netbook

Complete|Mobile Systems
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Sept 3, 2009 by Mike Chin

Product
Eee PC 1005HA
Manufacturer
Asus
Market Price
US$320~360

We left the netbook sector untouched since reflecting on the Asus EEE PC 4G back in November 2007. Since then, netbooks have taken the computing world by storm, and by some accounts, it's the one computing sector that remained bright through the trials of the global economic downturn over the past year or more. This is not to say SPCR staff members have ignored netbooks. On the contrary, we've personally gone through several netbooks of our own in the search for the perfect balance of features, size, weight, keyboard, usability, battery life and price that everyone seems to be similarly seeking.

So why look now at another one of the dozens of Eee PC models Asus has spewed off its assembly lines? Because the 1005HA is close to The One, at least among 10" screen models.


Is Asus Eee PC Seashell 1005HA The One?

Asus seems to continue dominating the netbook sector, if only in the sheer number of models offered. Among 10" screen models, Asus offers at least a dozen, although not all models are available in all markets of the globe. There are still a couple of 9" and 7" screen models, and an 11.6" model, the 1101HA, a larger companion of the model under examination here.

Leaving the other screen size models aside, there are so many commonalities among 10" screen netbooks that they appear like peas in a pod to anyone who hasn't actually used one or more for at least some time. For a standard 12~15" screen notebook user, these 10" netbooks are difficult to differentiate: Essentially, they all seem delightfully small and light, offer too little screen space for convenience, have keyboards too undersized for comfort, and don't have quite enough computing power to do... well, anything serious. While some of these points are exaggerations, there's truth in them as well.

Regarding 10" netbooks in general...

  • Equally smart: The computing power differences between various models and brands of Intel Atom-based netbooks are close enough to be irrelevant for most users. RAM, hard drives, network cards, graphics cards — they are all virtually identical in performance. If one is fast enough for you, the rest will be too, and vice versa; ie, if one is too slow... Not only is this perspective borne from hands-on experience with some 4-5 netbooks, there are many dozens of "performance oriented" web tech reviews that substantiate it. A few netbooks based on VIA processors appear to be somewhat more capable than the Atoms, but the numbers are few. Hence, you know that this review will not cover any benchmarks except battery life.

  • Good for 80%: Having said all that, netbooks are real computers that can easily do >80% of what most people ask of them, including web surfing, emailing, office document creation and editing, Internet-enabled video or phone communication, and even some music and video play. They're not good for "serious" games, or HD video (720p or higher) playback, heavy duty video processing or editing, or working on huge still images.

    For the typical user, a netbook is not the primary PC, but a light and easy travel companion, whether that travel is just cruising about the town or a sunny holiday. It would rarely be the preferred PC on a business trip.
  • XP wins: Almost all netbooks now run on Windows XP. Linux and other OS certainly are options, but mostly not for mainstreamers.
  • Screen quality can vary: While the screen size or resolution can't really change from one 10" to another, the quality can.
  • Keyboards and touch pads are key: With keyboards and touch pads, there's no question of differences. They do differ, and significantly enough that for many people, this is the crux of main buying decision. Ergonomics and usability design are king.
  • Wireless forever? Battery life is very important for most users. Small, light and utra-mobile is only useful if the untethered operational life is long.
  • Price, price, price!? Even though 10" netbooks fall in a narrow ~$50 market price range, say $330~380 currently, consumer review articles always suggest that buyers are highly sensitive to price. This doesn't really compute in our view. $50 is just $50 — not that much money even in these dire economic times for the typical netbook buyer. Getting one that's just right would seem more important than saving $50 and regretting the savings until you replace it!

Focusing again on the subject at hand, when the 1005HA was introduced in mid-July, these are some of the key points Asus made in it's press release.

Asus Eee PC Seashell 1005HA Feature Highlights
(from the product web site and press release)
FEATURE & BRIEF Our Comment
All-Day Computing - ASUS-engineered Super Hybrid Engine (SHE), LED-backlit display and Intel Atom processor allow up to 10.5 hours on a single charge.
Amazing claim, but probably only under ideal low use conditions.
User-replaceable battery and upgradeable RAM
Good. Some models did not have user-replaceable batteries
Extra-large Keyboard and Multi-touch Trackpad - 92% (of full size) keyboard with full-sized shift keys for an extremely comfortable typing experience, complemented by extra-wide palm rests and seamless touchpad with a dimpled surface that supports multi-touch gestures.
These are important usability features.
Eee Docking Software - provides easy access to utilities, software and digital content
Utilities some users might find useful.
Flexible Storage - 2.5-inch SATA II 160GB hard drive, plus 10GB of online Eee Storage.
Eee storage can be useful if you have no other such service, and 160GB is probably plenty for most.


The box is only a bit larger than the 1005HA itself.

Asus Eee PC Seashell 1005HA (PU1X-BK) Specifications
Display
10.1" LED Backlight WSVGA Screen (1024x600) with Color-Shine
CPU/Chipset
Intel® Atom™ N270/N280 (Our sample: 1.66Ghz N280)
Graphics
Integrated Intel GMA 900; VGA port (up to 1600×1280 )
Storage
160GB HDD + 10GB Eee Storage**
Memory
DDR2 SO-DIMM 1GB
Battery
Li-ion battery pack:
10.5hrs* (6 cells, 63W/h)
8.5hrs* (6 cells, 48W/h)
4hrs* (3 cells, 23W/h)
Multimedia
1.3M Pixel / 0.3M Pixel camera, Hi-Definition Audio Codec, Stereo Speakers, Digital Array Mic
Communication
WLAN 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz**, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR**
I/O
VGA Connector, 3 x USB 2.0, LAN RJ-45, Headphone / Mic-in jacks, Card Reader: MMC/ SD (SDHC)
OS
Genuine Microsoft Windows® XP Home / GNU Linux**
Size & weight
262mm x 178mm x 25.9~36.5mm
1.27Kg (with 6-cell battery); 1.1kg (with 3-cell battery)


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