Editors' note: We've reviewed a more recent retail-exclusive version of the Asus Eee PC 1005HA, called the Asus 1005HAGB-BBY-BK01X.
We were very fond of the previous version of Asus' Eee PC, the 1008HA, which represented a radical design change from the boxy Eee PCs of the past. But its high-end (for a Netbook) price, at $429, slipped just over the line for many, and its nonremovable battery wasn't as long-lasting as we've seen in other Eee PCs.
The latest revision, called the 1005HA, keeps the slim, tapered design but ditches the somewhat cumbersome cover flaps on the ports and adds a more traditional six-cell battery. This means a slightly thicker and heavier system, but also one that's our current Netbook battery life leader. Add in a slightly shaved price tag, down to a more reasonable $389 (although some perfectly usable Netbooks are down to $299), and you have what may be our new go-to Netbook choice.
|Price as reviewed||$389|
|Processor||1.66GHz Intel Atom N280|
|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)||10.3 x 7.1 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 the 1005HA is based on the (slightly slimmer) 1008HA model. There's a tapered front lip, but the new model lacks some of the space-saving features of the 1008HA, such as the angled Ethernet jack and hidden mini-VGA port. Rather than a potentially smaller SSD drive, there's a standard 160GB HDD inside, augmented by a free 10GB online data storage subscription for backing up files to a remote server.
While slightly thicker and heavier than other recent Netbooks, it's still a vast improvement over the first few generations of mini laptops, which had a universally boxy, toylike feel. Our review unit was glossy black, which was prone to picking up fingerprints; blue is also available.
The flat, wide keyboard, similar to what we saw on the Eee PC 1008HA, is among the better Netbook keyboards we've used, and the full-size right Shift key is one of those things you don't realize is very important until it goes missing. The 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.
A single quick-access button 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. New to this model is a software suite that acts as a software dock popping out of the top of the screen (by default, but switchable). From there, you can access functions such as screen brightness presets and media players. Most Netbook users we talk to are no-nonsense types who just want to surf the Web or send e-mail, so learning the ins and outs of a proprietary menu bar system may not be high in the list of priorities.
The 10.1-inch LED display offers a 1,024x600 native resolution, which is standard for a Netbook, although higher-end systems are starting to add 1,366x768 display options. The backlit LED allows the lid to be very thin, and also use less power than a more traditional LCD display.
|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, Bluetooth||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 we've seen on some high-end Netbooks. We prefer to have our connections out in the open, rather than hidden behind hinged plastic doors (as in the 1008HA model), although we have to admit, the 1008's tiny, angled Ethernet jack was an impressive engineering feat.
With Intel's N280 Atom CPU, the system was, not surprisingly, on par with other current Netbooks, even those with the slightly slower N270 version of the ubiquitous Atom. We have yet to meet an Atom-powered Netbook that vastly outperformed or underperformed the pack. The basic rule of thumb is that for basic tasks such as word processing, Web surfing, and e-mail, an Atom Netbook is more than adequate, as long as you keep your expectations modest.
The real star here is the system's battery life. Asus has always had some of the longest-lived Netbooks, and the new 1005HA got an impressive 6 hours and 51 minutes in our video playback battery drain test--about 30 minutes more than our previous leader, the Eee PC 1000HE, and more than 2 hours better than the nonremovable battery in the 1008HA model.
Asus also includes its Super Hybrid Engine feature in the system, which is essentially a series of power-saving presets to further extend battery life. These are mostly power consumption tweaks one could perform individually, but it's handy to have them all in one place.