Netbooks seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and nearly as cheap! Everyone and their brother is in the game now and all of them are essentially carbon copies of each other with very few exception. ASUS, the creator of the original netbook, the Eee PC 4G, now finds itself being attacked on basically every side from competition that tries to undercut their prices, offer newer features and improve on appearance.
ASUS' latest line of Eee PC offerings fall into the "Seashell" design moniker, a term that denotes the physical shape of the netbook that starts slimmer on one end than the other. In terms of hardware, the Eee PC 1005HA is more like other netbooks than not - Atom 1.6 GHz CPU, Intel 945G chipset and graphics, 1GB of DDR2 memory, etc. But the additions of Bluetooth 2.1 support and even 802.11n do spark our interest as hardware geeks looking to stand out from the netbook crowd.
Check below for our video review of the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA with photos and comments further down.
One thing is for sure: the Eee PC 1005HA is full of shine. The reflections you are seeing off of the top of the netbook are the white sheets we use for photos (wrinkles and all).
On the left side of the machine you'll find the power connection, VGA output, one of the USB 2.0 ports, the notebook locking port and an air ventilation area.
Because of the small size of the machine and the need for a large battery, nothing is on the back of the unit.
On the right hand side we find an SD memory card reader (very handy to have), headphone and microphone ports, two more USB 2.0 ports (for a total of three) and a Gigabit Ethernet port as well.
This is just another angle of the machine while closed looking at the minimal markings on the cover that definitely give the 1005HA a classy appearance.
On the bottom you will see just a single easy to access opening that is for memory upgrades.
One drawback to the piano-finish gloss of the 1005HA is fingerprints - like the ones you can see here along the bezel of the screen. When clean though, the unit is very sharp and the keyboard is large enough to be useful.
You can kind of see how the machine gets the name "Seashell" from this shot as it is shaped in such a way to taper off as you approach the front. This is obviously a style originally made famous by the MacBook Air.
As I said above, the keyboard is a 92% rated design (meaning the keys are 92% the size of a standard desktop keyboard) and is a lot more comfortable for typing than I originally expected.
The one complaint I do have is with the mouse pad - it's a bit too small for my liking. I realize that ASUS didn't have much room between the keyboard and the end of the front of the casing but even having the trackpad WIDER would have helped I think. I also know that some people are not big fans of the "single-button" two button track pads, but I had not issues with it.
Here you can see the set of LEDs on the 1005HA including power, charging status, hard drive access, wireless access and the needs-to-go-away CAPS lock key.
There are only a couple of actually buttons on the 1005HA (besides the keyboard) one is for power and sleep modes (seen here in silver) and the other is audio mute; that's a nice feature to be able to quickly access.
The screen resolution is 1024x600 - small by just about anyone's standards but useable.
The LED backlit screen is easy to read and can get pretty bright actually - though at the expense of battery life of course. But it is always nice to have the option for it on a bright sunny day outside.
Accessories are pretty limited - a simple zipper bag and a power cord are all that is included with the recovery DVD and manual.
The AC adaptor is small and only rated at 19v x 2.1A for a total of under 40 watts - though the machine uses WAY less power than that.
Here you can see how small the AC adaptor is. One comment we got on this was that it would be nice for ASUS to offer an AC adaptor that doesn't require a separate power cord but that instead plugs directly into the wall since the power bricks are so small now.
Opening up the back of the unit shows the single DIMM slot that 1005HA provides.
The default configuration from the manufacturer includes only a single 1GB DDR2 module that can be easily upgraded to a 2GB module for something around $20 these days. A highly recommended upgrade!
Removing the battery from the 1005HA shows just how much of the unit is actually displaced by the need for all day power.
This is a 6-cell battery rated at 5600 mAh and was enough for use to get a solid 6.5 hours of actual real-world use.
For the price, the ASUS 1005HA offers a lot of very unique and interesting features that you won't find on other netbooks including support for 802.11n networking and Bluetooth 2.1 + AD2P support for wireless audio streaming. Not only that, but it has a sexy seashell design (hence the name of course) and great battery life (though not up to the 10 hours quoted by ASUS exactly) for a price under $400. There were a couple of drawbacks, notably the trackpad and overall system performance, but in terms of best in class netbook devices, this is one of the top.