Asus Eee PC 1005HA netbook review

July 14, 2009

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Are you fed up with netbooks costing almost the same as fully-fledged laptops? Asus brings the concept closer to its humble beginnings with the 1005HA.

If you’re in the market for a netbook and have wondered what’s happened to the low cost, budget focused machines that originally kick-started the genre then you’re not the only ones.

Nowadays prices routinely soar ever closer to the £400 mark. In fact, it's got to the point where the market is crying out for a truly budget-priced netbook. Asus has heeded your call and with the Eee PC 1005HA you might just be in luck.

We liked Asus' premium-priced netbook, the Eee PC 1008HA for its slim, sexy and oh-so-desirable design, but weren't too keen on the price. The 1005HA offers the best of both worlds, blending the affordability of the Eee PC's humble beginnings with the styling of the Seashell.

It's available in two versions: a premium model that squeezes in an Intel Atom N280, Bluetooth, a huge battery and glossy screen; and a cheaper version that settles for an Intel Atom N270, forgoes the Bluetooth, opts for a slightly smaller battery and has only a matte display.

This, the cheaper of the two models, is of most interest. Although it costs a reasonable £286, it looks very similar to the more expensive Seashell. Its smoothly contoured form and shapely curves look good and is available in black or white.

Set the 1005HA next to its slender stablemate, the 1008HA, however, and it won't be the trickiest game of spot the difference you've ever played. The 1005HA is noticeably chunkier - a testament to the freely removable lithium-ion battery at its rear. It's a sacrifice worth making for the extra stamina on offer, not to mention the ability to carry around multiple batteries for long journeys (the Seashell's battery isn't user-replaceable). The 4,400mAh battery manages a decent 6hrs 34mins away from the mains.

The 1005HA extra girth tips the scales at 1.16kg, or 1.41kg if you're envisaging carrying around the petite and portable power supply too. It might be a little heavier than some of the competition, but its extra bulk is allied to sturdy build quality. Pick up the 1005HA by the corner and the chassis feels stiff and creak-free, while both the lid and chassis feel well up to fending off the daily abuse a bag-bound netbook has to suffer.

Are you fed up with netbooks costing almost the same as fully-fledged laptops? Asus brings the concept closer to its humble beginnings with the 1005HA.

The 10.1in display marks another change, supplanting the 1008HA's glossy panel with a matte one. It's a decision that's bound to please many, with the reduced reflectivity making the 1005HA even more suited to a life on the road. Colour reproduction and contrast levels are solid without proving exceptional, but just like that of the Samsung NC10, the matte display does bring with it a noticeably grainy quality.

And despite its markedly lower price the 1005HA loses little in the way of features. Bluetooth is a notable absentee, but its absence leaves room in the budget for draft-n WiFi, which is an impressive sight in a sub-£300 netbook. Peer around its matte-black edges and the 1005HA also manages to squeeze in three USB ports, an SD/MMC card reader and a set of speakers that manage to make music rather than choke it.

It's a similar story when it comes to ergonomics. Where many netbooks find their aspirations dashed by a poor keyboard or a wayward trackpad, the Asus stays firmly on target. It might not reach the tactile delights of Samsung's NC10 or N110, but the keyboard is still very fine. A full-height Enter key is partnered with a refreshingly wide right-Shift key and the layout is spacious and sensible.

The keys don't have much in the way of travel, but their positive action more than makes up for it. Even the strange-looking, dimpled trackpad works well, with multitouch gestures enabling you to quickly zoom in and out of photos or scroll effortlessly through long web pages or documents.

The 1005HA doesn't quite scale the heights of Samsung's superb N110, but for the money it's easy to cut the 1005HA a bit of slack. It's good-looking, well built and just as capable as many far pricier netbooks. If you won't settle for second best at any price then the Samsung N110 still wins out overall, but for most people, the Eee PC 1005HA is the netbook they've always wanted with the price they've always dreamed of.

[via itpro]

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