Asus Eee PC 1005HA notebook review

The Asus Eee PC range of netbooks has undergone a design and a name change recently, which we’ve been told will be carried throughout all the upcoming family of Eee PCs. This "Seashell" design reflects exactly that, a seashell, with its curved lid and glossy exterior that’s really highlighted in the white version of these netbooks.

It’s a slight misnomer to call the netbooks Eee "PCs", which Asus realised themselves when their very first netbook came out and it was all too late. Asus has since admitted they should have reserved the "PC" part for the nettops range they produce, but the branding was already in place when this dawned on them and we’re all now stuck with calling a netbook a PC – c'est la vie.

We reviewed the 1000HE only a few months back but it’s already being phased out to make way for the 1005HA. Although they’re more or less the same specification, it has attached that new design ethos and a lower price point.

The 1005HA is the more standardised version of the 1008HA, which has a sleeker look to its overall build. We say standardised as Asus has changed and covered the 1008HA USB and other ports besides slim-lining the build which makes for more of a designer netbook, whereas the 1005HA looks more like a traditional one.

In saying that, these new Seashell netbooks do not look like the netbooks from Asus in the past. They’ve been completely redesigned since they came out in 2007. Even though the 1005HA has the same specs as the 1000HE, it’s all change on the outside and on the inside along with a better battery life.

Unfortunately the 1005HA SKU’s changed whilst our review unit was in mid-flight, as the battery cell number had altered somewhat. Accompanying the netbook now is a 6-cell battery pack and not a 3-cell version which arrived with us. There’s also two type of 1005HA just to confuse matters even more.

Both arrive with the same 6-cell battery only the model we didn’t see is an Intel 1.66GHz N280 processor, Bluetooth and a larger 1.3-megapixel webcam. This is compared to the 0.3 megapixel webcam netbook we saw, that also has a lower 1.6GHz N270 CPU. Both models come with 1GB RAM.

Unfortunately this processor didn’t have enough might behind it to run the likes of BBC iPlayer or YouTube high definition content, but we have seen the better processor version handle this quite well.

The other Seashell netbook we’ve already mentioned, the 1008HA, comes along with a mini-VGA port which is covered and enclosed. This is the same with all the rest of its sockets, whereas the 1005HA has gone back to the standardised exposed USB ports and a normal VGA socket that’s supported by more devices.

Its 10.1-inch 1024 x 600 display is the most common screen size we’re seeing on netbooks these days, with the 7-inch size of the very first netbooks being a long, distant and some might say best forgotten memory.

Asus have made some noise about the keyboard changes that have happened in the 1005HA, especially in its overall size. The keyboard now measures in at 92% as compared to a regular keyboard. The change is very evident indeed, as it’s much wider and easier to type with than those 700 and 901 Eee PCs of the past.

Another new inclusion to the 1005HA is the multi-functioning mouse touch pad. The area of the touch pad can also be used to zoom in and zoom out of pictures and webpages, much like you can on the Apple iPhone and the well-known "finger pinch to expand" method. It’s a useful little feature we found and one we hope comes to the upcoming Asus Eee PCs.

We noticed behind the removable battery is a slot for a SIM card. On further investigation Asus confirmed the 3-cell battery version of the 1005HA we actually saw will feature in a model being resold by a UK network, utilising that SIM slot. In our tests that battery lasted 2hrs and 30mins, although the larger cell pack has been noted to last for around 8.5 hours.

Storage comes courtesy of a 160GB hard disc drive, and in terms of wireless connectivity you get b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. You also get an Ethernet connector for wired networking, 3x USB 2.0, mic and headphone jacks and a card reader (MMS, SD, SDHC).

Verdict

The 1005HA is slightly marred by the lower powered CPU and battery life in our netbook, although the shipping unit has been confirmed to last up to 8.5 hours. The new clamshell design we first saw in the 11.6-inch screen 1101HA was a welcomed change, as they all look now much more like a laptop and less like a budget portable device.