ASUS Eee PC 1101HA Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (65,009)

Overview

  • Pros

    • Nice build quality
    • Good screen
    • Easy to overclock
  • Cons

    • Has to be overclocked
    • Uses weak integrated graphics
    • Bad touchpad buttons

The newest 11-inch netbook from ASUS looks remarkably like an enlarged ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Seashell, but there’s more to the new 1101HA than meets the eye. Inside you’ll find an average Intel Atom processor and software that allows you to overclock this netbook for roughly a 33 percent boost in performance! Is the Eee PC 1101HA the king of the 11-inch netbooks? Keep reading to find out.

Our ASUS Eee PC 1101HA features the following specifications:

  • Operating System: Genuine Windows XP
  • Processor: Intel Atom Z520 Processor 1.33GHz (can be overclocked to 1.74GHz)
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM (667MHz)
  • Internal Storage: 160GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD plus 10GB Eee Online Storage
  • Display: 11.6-inch diagonal WSVGA (1366×768)
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 500
  • 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): 0.9-1.50 x 11.25 x 7.75 inches (including feet)
  • Weight: 3.0 lbs (not including weight of AC adapter).
  • Power: 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery (5600mAh, 63Wh)
  • Warranty: One-year standard warranty
  • MSRP: $429.99

Build and Design
I have to confess to feeling a strong sense of deja vu when I opened the box containing the new ASUS Eee PC 1101HA. The latest entry to the Eee PC family of netbooks looks remarkably like the Eee PC 1005HA that I previously reviewed … and with good reason. The 1101HA is essentially nothing more than a larger version of the 1005HA with a larger screen and a few different parts inside the clamshell chassis. Although the 1101HA needed to be physically larger than previous Eee PCs in order to accommodate a larger 11-inch screen, this new Eee PC is still exceptionally compact and makes a convenient travel companion.

Since the new 1101HA has so much in common with the 1005HA, some of our readers may want to jump ahead to the sections discussing the new 11-inch display and the performance and benchmarks. Beyond that, much of this review will be surprisingly similar to our review of the last Eee PC.

As previously mentioned, if you look at the top of the 1101HA it’s easy to see to confuse this laptop with one of the earlier “Seashell” Eee PCs … but that’s not such a bad thing. The simple styling, solid build quality and budget prices are all reasons that the ASUS Eee PC line remains popular among many retailers. The glossy black plastics aren’t prone to flex and the keyboard is very firm … two things you usually don’t see on larger budget notebooks. The various parts of the chassis come together with tight build tolerances like a higher-priced laptop. The 1101HA isn’t a premium laptop by any stretch of the imagination, but this netbook is pretty solid build for a street price of only about $410.

The bottom of the netbook looks very clean and smooth with an easy-access RAM cover, heat vents, and the battery. If you want to upgrade the RAM in your 1101HA 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 and Speakers
The new Eee PC 1101HA Seashell uses a reasonably impressive 11-inch LED-backlit display panel with a 1366×768 native resolution. The glossy screen in the 1101HA offers good color and contrast, though images looked a bit washed out at default settings. Glare and reflections indoors under strong lights or outdoors under direct sunlight can be a problem because of the glossy surface, but the LED backlighting is usually strong enough to overpower any reflections on the screen. Again, the most noteworthy feature here is the 1366×768 resolution which is a nice boost over the 1024×600 resolution on 10-inch screens. Vertical viewing angles are average, with some color distortion when viewing from below and 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.

 

The built-in speakers, like those found on virtually all netbooks, are pretty weak. You can use them to listen to short online video clips or system alert sounds, but if you want to enjoy music or a feature-length movie while traveling then you’ll need to purchase a good set of headphones.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The 1101HA uses a new 95% full-size keyboard that is marginally larger and more comfortable than the 92% of full-size keyboard first seen on the 1008HA Seashell. The keys on this netbook keyboard are still slightly smaller than the keys on an average notebook and the spacing between the keys is a little cramped. If you prefer the shape and feel of traditional keys then you’ll probably like the new keyboard. That said, I personally prefer the “Chiclet” style keyboard on netbooks since Chiclet keys provide 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 1101HA appears to be identical to the gesture-enabled models on the 1008HA and 1005HA. 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 1101HA 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 1101HA features an identical port layout to the one seen on the 1005HA. Specifically, 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 1101HA 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 1101HA:


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 1101HA also features the “Eee Docking software” first seen on the 1005HA. 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 applications, 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 from the top of the screen and is semi-hidden when not in use.


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