Only a couple of weeks has gone by since we reviewed the ultimate netbook – thus far – called Asus EeePC 1008HA. Now, we got our hands on the little sister of that netbook, Asus EeePC 1005HA, which is a little more affordable than its big sister and offers some conveniences that 1008HA did away with in order to slim down its size and lessen its weight. Of course, these conveniences come with a detectable increase in the weight and bulk of the unit.
Design and layout
It is not only the bottom of the unit that is bulkier than the 1008HA, however. For some inexplicable reason that probably has more to do with the symmetry of the design than anything else, also the lid of the unit is a little bit thicker than on the 1008HA. This is something that I cannot justify from the point of view of usability for the end user, and it is one of – admittedly smaller – points that make me not consider the 1005HA up to par with the 1008HA.
Our review unit arrived with the biggest capacity battery available for the 1005HA: the six cell 63Wh battery pack that is promised to deliver up to 10.5 hours of use (do not expect this in real use, however). With this battery, the total weight of the unit comes to 1270g, which is 170 grams more than the 1008HA. The difference may seem small, but since the main bulk of it is at the back where the battery pack is located, it feels like much more when you actually hold the unit in your hands. There are also lighter models available with smaller 3 cell battery packs that decrease the weight to 1100g – the same as 1008HA, but with shorter battery life. The 6-cell battery reached real use lifetime of about 7.5 hours when we were very conservative with it (turn off the wi-fi and bluetooth when you don't need them).
The 1005HA is slightly less equipped when it comes to quick access keys. The 1008HA was already sparse with these, but the 1005HA has only one: a button to switch the touchpad on and off at the top left corner of the keyboard. I would have liked to see a button also for the wifi/bluetooth, but naturally it is also accessible through Fn-F2, so it is not that big of a problem.
The touchpad on 1005HA is the same as on 1008HA. Being completely flush with the rest of the casing, it makes the design look very sleek. However, it also misses the traditional multitouch commands that made earlier EeePCs so much more convenient to use than any of the competition. It should be possible to add these multitouch commands back in with the installation of new drivers, though – at least for the WinXP users. But I'm sure there are many who miss these commands when they install Linux on the machine.
The 1005HA Seashell arrives with WinXP preloaded. Windows runs very fast on the machine and I encountered no slow-downs when hooked up to a power outlet. In power saving mode, you will naturally get some slowdown switching between windows when you have many programs running, but, overall, the machine is definitely faster than the previous models – thanks to the updated processor.
As with the 1008HA, we also tried Ubuntu and some other Linux distros on the machine, but encountered difficulties with the wi-fi and LAN connectivity. It seems that we'll have to wait until the newer Kernels get included in the actual Linux distros to fully enjoy Linux on the Seashell. Until then, unless you are willing to compile your own Kernels, we are pretty much stuck with XP.