Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
As one of the most popular, and critically hailed Netbooks to ever hit store shelves, the Asus 1005HA has been a go-to choice for many shoppers for what seems like forever (but in computer industry terms, is actually about six months). The Asus 1005HAGB-BBY-BK01X is the same basic hardware we reviewed months ago is available in retail stores for $399, but now includes a built-in Gobi 3G antenna, which can work with multiple carriers.
Other versions of the 1005HA, with essentially identical configurations but minus the 3G antenna, are available for as little as $299.
While we still like its slim, tapered design and long battery life, several companies--including Asus--have made some improvements to the Netbook genre since then. This version with its low-definition display, clacky keyboard, slower Intel Atom N270 processor, and Windows XP feels a bit dated. Today's Netbook shopper has more options than ever before, including newer CPUs, 11-inch HD displays, and improved graphics from Nvidia's Ion chip (to say nothing of Windows 7).
This is still an excellent overall Netbook, and definitely worth a test drive, but be sure to browse the $299 versions of the standard Atom N270, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD configuration if you don't need the built-in 3G.
|Price as reviewed||$399|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Atom N270|
|Memory||1GB, 533MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 945GM Express|
|Graphics||Mobile Intel GMA 950 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows XP|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.3x7.1 inches|
|Height||1.1 - 1.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.9/3.4 pounds|
The design of this retail version of the 1005HA is essentially the same as the launch version we reviewed earlier in 2009. There's a tapered front lip that makes it feel thinner than it is, and a slightly wedge-like silhouette. Our review unit was glossy black, which was prone to picking up fingerprints.
Its flat, wide keyboard is similar to what we've seen on previous Eee PC models, and has pleasingly large keys and is easy to type on; however, it feels somewhat clacky compared with other recent Netbook keyboards we've tried. Its touch pad is demarcated by a rectangle of raised dots on the wrist rest, and works well; although, we found ourselves going into the touch pad settings and jacking up the default pointer speed. The mouse buttons--relegated to a single thin rocker bar--are not as tactile as they would be as separate buttons.
A single quick-access button located above the keyboard is for disabling the touch pad (handy if you're using an external USB mouse), and Asus' different preset power profiles are accessible by hitting the Fn key plus the space bar. You can get the same effect by tweaking XP's built-in power settings, but it's nice to have these presets all in one place.
The 10.1-inch LED display has a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is common for a Netbook, although higher-end systems are starting to add 1,366x768-pixel display options.
|Asus Eee PC 1005HA||Average for category [netbook]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; Gobi 3G antenna||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
The 1005HA offers a fairly standard set of ports and connections, lacking only the ExpressCard slot and Bluetooth we've seen on some high-end Netbooks. The big new feature here is the Gobi 3G antenna, but keep in mind you'll have to sign up with a 3G provider (both Verizon and AT&T are supported) to use it--which typically costs about $60 per month.
With Intel's N270 Atom CPU, the system was, not surprisingly, on par with other current Netbooks. The basic rule of thumb is that for tasks such as world processing, Web surfing, and e-mail, an Atom Netbook is more than adequate, as long as you keep your expectations modest.
But keep in mind that the next generation of Atom chips is around the corner, and even some current or very imminent models include the dual-core Atom and Nvidia's Ion graphics chip--so the standards of acceptable Netbook performance may be about to change.