The Asus 1101HA Seashell follows on from the success of the original Asus Eee PC Seashell, bringing with it a larger 11.6-inch screen. It still features the same clamshell-like design, but Asus hopes the bigger design will help to attract those dithering between a notebook and netbook.
The Seashell’s 11.6-inch screen will be too large for many users, falling close to the size of a regular ultraportable laptop. It’s better than most netbook screens though, with a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution that makes it easy to view a couple of documents simultaneously.
The 16:9 aspect ratio also makes it ideal for video playback, although movies did suffer from dropped frames if any programs were running in the background. As with many of its rivals, it features a highly reflective coating though, so don’t plan on using it in direct sunlight.
The increase in screen size has led to loads of space being created for the keyboard, which offers better usability than most netbooks we’ve seen. The big square keys do rattle slightly as you type though, letting down quality slightly. The touchpad also offers large and comfortable usability.
The design is near identical to Asus’ original Eee PC 1008HA Seashell. This machine isn’t Eee PC-branded, however, with the Taiwanese company trying to get more exposure for the Asus brand itself. The chassis is also thicker than the 1008HA, mainly to accommodate the removable 6-cell battery.
Quality is good, with sturdy plastics in place, although the glossy finish still attracts fingerprints and scratches. At 1.4kg, it’s heavier than the original Seashell, although it’s still easy to slip in bags and take with you wherever you go.
Processing power comes from the same Intel Atom Z520 chip found in the Sony VAIO P-series. Although it runs at a lower speed than the more popular Atom N270/N280 chips – 1.33GHz vs. 1.6Ghz and 1.66GHz – it’s efficient when it comes to battery life, and we managed to run the 1101HA for around 7 and a half hours before the battery died.
You’ll find the same 160GB of storage space found on many of its rivals, but Asus also bundles 10GB of online storage, letting you keep you important files safe and accessible from anywhere in the world.
Ports are fairly standard – you’ll find a trio of USB ports for hooking up peripherals, with VGA in place for connections to an external monitor. There’s also an Ethernet connection, letting you join fixed networks.
Fast wireless connections are provided by the 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, and there’s a Bluetooth adapter for those wanting to wirelessly transfer files to other digital devices. A SD/MMC card reader and a 1.3-megapixel camera rounds off the specification.
There’s no doubting the Seashell 1101HA is a good product, with a great screen, comfortable keyboard and reasonable specification. Whether the larger keyboard is worth the compromise in portability depends purely on your needs, however. It’s also less attractive than the original Eee PC 1008HA, and we’d be tempted by the extra mobility on offer.