ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (190,697)
  • Pros

    • Nice build quality
    • Excellent battery life
    • Good port layout
  • Cons

    • Thick for a modern netbook
    • Still uses weak graphics
    • Bad touchpad buttons

by Jerry Jackson

It’s easy to get confused by all the variety of netbooks on the market today. These low-cost ultraportable laptops generally have very similar features and many even look virtually identical. That said, it’s never easy to overlook the latest Eee PC from ASUS. The Eee PC 1005HA Seashell is the newest netbook from ASUS that promises to deliver the perfect balance between lightweight style and functionality. Let’s take a closer look.

Our ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Seashell features the following specifications:

  • Operating System: Genuine Windows XP
  • Processor: Intel Atom N280 Processor 1.66GHz (667MHz FSB)
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM (667MHz)
  • Internal Storage: 160GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD plus 10GB Eee Online Storage
  • Display: 10.1-inch diagonal WSVGA (1024×600) 
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 950
  • Wireless: Broadcom 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
  • Expansion: 4-in-1 media card slot
  • Ports and connectors: (3) USB 2.0 ports, VGA OUT, power connector, RJ-45/Ethernet (Gigabit), stereo headphone/line out, stereo microphone in, 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 0.89-1.40 x 10.2 x 6.9 inches (including feet)
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs (not including weight of AC adapter).
  • Power: 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery (5600mAh, 63Wh)
  • Warranty: One-year standard warranty
  • MSRP: $389.99

Build and Design
The Eee PC 1005HA is a lower-cost version of the 1008HA Seashell and features a similar clamshell chassis design but is a little thicker and comes with a removable battery. Unlike the 1008HA, which had plastic covers over every port, all of the ports on the 1005HA are easily accessible so you won’t have to struggle to plug in a USB flash drive. The 1005HA also isn’t as thin as the 1008HA Seashell, but the 1005HA makes up for extra bulk with a high-capacity removable battery.

If you look at the top of the 1005HA it’s easy to see the “Seashell” heritage, and thankfully it manages to retain some solid build quality for a budget netbook. The glossy black plastics aren’t prone to flex and the keyboard is very firm … two things you usually don’t see on budget notebooks. The various parts of the chassis come together with tight build tolerances like a higher-priced laptop. This isn’t the most rugged netbook we’ve ever seen, but ASUS gave the 1005HA a pretty solid build for less than $400.

One nice improvement on this netbook compared to the last Seashell is the return of an easy-access RAM cover. If you want to upgrade the RAM in your 1005HA all you have to do is remove one screw on the access panel on the bottom of the netbook. I would have also liked to see an easy-access panel for the hard drive, but most netbook buyers aren’t going to mess with the hard drive.

Screen
The new Eee PC 1005HA Seashell uses a fairly standard LED-backlit display panel with a 1024×600 native resolution. The glossy screen looks identical to what we saw in the 1008HA: the glossy screen offers good color and contrast, but glare and reflections indoors under strong lights or outdoors under direct sunlight can be a problem. Again, although the 1024×600 resolution is pretty standard for a netbook these days, I’d much rather see a 1366×768 screen in the next Eee PC. Vertical viewing angles are average, with minimal color distortion when viewing from below and some over-exposed colors when viewed from above. Horizontal viewing angles are better with colors staying accurate at extremely wide viewing angles with just a little bit of color wash out.

 

Keyboard and Touchpad
The 1005HA Seashell uses the same 92% of full size keyboard first seen on the 1008HA Seashell. The keys are slightly smaller than the keys on an average notebook but the spacing between the keys is quite limited. If you prefer the shape and feel of traditional keys then you’ll probably like the new keyboard. That said, I personally prefer the “chicklet” style keyboard used on the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE since there is more space between the keys to prevent me from accidentally hitting the wrong key. Still, the keyboard on this netbook is quite usable and should be perfectly fine for typing quick emails or editing documents while traveling.

The Synaptics touchpad used on the 1005HA is likewise identical to the gesture-enabled model on the 1008HA. This allows you to use multi-figure gestures such as “pinching” your fingers together or “pulling” your fingers apart to zoom in or out. You can also use a “three-finger tap” as an alternative to a right click on a mouse. The Synaptics control panel in Windows also allows you to customize these gestures as well. The touchpad surface is covered in dots that provide a clear indication of the edges of the touchpad, but this also makes the touchpad surface too rough for quick finger movement. The left and right touchpad buttons are located beneath a single rocker-style button, but with no separation between the left and right side it’s easy to accidentally press the middle of the touchpad button when you’re trying to press the left or right side. The touchpad buttons have extremely shallow feedback, so it isn’t always easy to feel when you have or have not pressed a button.

The 1005HA lacks a dedicated wireless on/off switch, but ASUS did include a dedicated touchpad on/off button as well as FN keyboard shortcuts for wireless, screen brightness, video output, volume, and Windows task manager.

Input and Output Ports
The 1005HA provides a few more ports than the 1008HA. Namely, you get three USB 2.0 ports, a 4-in-1 media card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, Ethernet port, and the return of a standard VGA out port. The 1005HA lacks the protective port covers seen on the 1008HA, but I personally don’t like protective covers since I have to move them to use the ports.

Here is a quick tour around the Eee PC 1005HA:


Front view: No ports here, just clean lines and indicator lights.


Rear view: No ports here either, just the hinges and battery.


Left side view: Power jack, VGA out, USB 2.0 port, security lock slot, and heat vent.


Right side view: 4-in-1 card reader, headphone jack, microphone jack, two USB 2.0 ports, and Ethernet.

The 1005HA is also the first Eee PC to offer a software “dock” on the desktop that ASUS calls “Eee Docking software.” In much the same way that the Apple OS X dock or ObjectDock from Stardock software allow you to use quick shortcuts to utilities and applicatiosn, the Eee Docking software provides an easy way to locate utilities, software and digital content. It consists of the following: Eee Vibe (music/media application and Eee download website), Sharing (Data sync, messenger, and Eee Storage), Xperience (Voice Command) and Tools (Parental Control, Font resizer, and Settings), and all of these suites are easily accessed as the software “docks” to the top of the screen and is semi-hidden when not in use.

Performance and Benchmarks
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s difficult to get excited about the benchmarking a netbook since most netbook have virtually identical specs. If you’ve read our reviews of other netbooks that use the Intel Atom processors then you know that all Atom-based netbooks have nearly identical performance in terms of actual real-world use. Overall performance with the Intel Atom platform is very reasonable for daily activities like Web browsing, email, using Microsoft Office, listening to music, and even watching movies. If you’re in a bind you can even use photo editing software like Photoshop or GIMP for basic image editing.

On a positive note, ASUS includes a proprietary overclocking application on the 1005HA called the “Super Hybrid Engine” that allows you to cycle through pre-set power profiles to maximize battery life by underclocking the processor, keep the processor at stock speed or slightly overclock the processor (from 1.66GHz to 1.70GHz).

Unfortunately, there’s only so much anyone can do with Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics. This integrated graphics processor (IGP) is powerful enough to handle displaying a PowerPoint presentation on a projector or watching DVD quality movies, but if 720p and 1080p video playback is your primary concern then you’ll want to look elsewhere. That said, ASUS managed to squeeze some pretty solid benchmark numbers out of the Intel graphics in the 1005HA.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240 seconds
HP Pavilion dv2 (AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 @ 1.60GHz)
103.521 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 114.749 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.030 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.421 seconds
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.281 seconds
Acer Aspire One (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz)  125.812 seconds
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (2009) (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 126.406 seconds
Samsung NC20 (VIA Nano ULV U2250 @ 1.30GHz) 173.968 seconds

 

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 2,446 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.60GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB) 2,191 PCMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,851 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege R500 (1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 1,839 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,637 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,564 PCMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,555 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,535 PCMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 1,441 PCMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GM1 950) 1,437 PCMarks

 

3DMark06 comparison results against netbooks @ 1024 x 768 resolution:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.60GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB)
1,520 3DMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,417 3DMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 151 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 127 3DMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 116 3DMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GM1 950) 112 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 92 3DMarks
Sony VAIO P (1.33GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 500, Windows Vista) 88 3DMarks

 

HDTune for the built-in hard drive:

Audio
The built-in speaker performance on the Eee PC 1005HA is pretty good for a 10-inch netbook. I’m not a fan of the location of the built-in speakers since they’re located on the bottom front edge of the 1005HA, but the audio quality is better than what we typically hear from netbook speakers. The speakers produce good volume (enough to fill a small room) and there is minimal distortion even at higher volume levels. The speakers lack much bass, but the range of highs and midtones are fine. Still, the audio output from the headphone jack is free of any obvious distortion and is a better solutiuon when paired with earphones or a good set of external speakers.

Heat and Noise
Temperatures on the new Eee PC Seashell are in line with what we’ve come to expect from netbooks with Intel Atom processors. Temperature readings taken from the outside of the plastic chassis remained “lap friendly” during normal use. The only time that temperature readings spiked was when I connected the netbook to an external display.

Below are images indicating the temperature readings (listed in degrees Fahrenheit) taken inside our office where the ambient temperature was 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Battery
ASUS claims that the 1005HA provides “all-day computing” with up to 10.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. As difficult as that might be to believe, it’s not completely out of the question. In our test with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and XP set to the laptop/portable power profile the system stayed on for 9 hours and 37 minutes of constant use. If we turned down the screen brightness even more, disabled Wi-Fi, and allowed the netbook to occasionally go into sleep mode then I’m quite certain the 1005HA could have exceeded 11 hours of battery life!

Conclusion
The new ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Seashell might seem like “just another Eee PC” at first glance, but upon closer examination it’s clear that ASUS has refined their popular line of netbooks with every variation. The Eee PC 1005A is one of the best eveolutions of the Eee PC line so far.

Yes, on paper there’s not much to get excited about with the latest Eee PC since it features the same processor, integrated graphics, and standard 10-inch display seen in almost every netbook, but in this case the whole may indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.

I’d still like to see a higher resolution screen, different graphics solution, and better touchpad buttons in this netbook, but overall there are plenty of reasons to like the latest Eee PC. If you’re in the market for a $400 netbook then this is worth your consideration.

Pros:

  • Nice build quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good port layout … for a netbook

Cons:

  • Thick for a modern netbook
  • Still uses weak integrated graphics
  • Bad touchpad buttons


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