Editors' Note:Portions of this review were taken from our earlier review of the ASUS Eee PC 1008HA.
By our count, ASUS has launched more than 20 models of its popular Eee PC netbook in the past year and a half. With that kind of practice it's no surprise that this latest entry is one of the most well-rounded netbooks on the market. The $389 ASUS Eee PC 1005HA has a similar chassis to the elegant Eee PC 1008HA and the same Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP and 160GB hard drive as the 1008HA and the 1000HE. And its high-capacity battery lasts just shy of nine hours on a charge, making this one of the longest-running netbook yet.
A member of ASUS' Seashell family, the 1005HA is the 1008HA's chunkier twin. Though less svelte than the inch-thick 1008HA, the 1005HA pulls from the same gene pool with its curved panels and sharp look. Gone, however, is the uniform body of the 1008HA; no plastic covers the edges or hides the ports. Its glossy black lid (also available in blue, pink, and white) is covered in a scratch-resistant In Fusion Finish, which is far from fingerprint resistant, so you'll want to keep a cloth handy.
The 1005HA is considerably thicker than the ultraslim 1008HA. It measures 10.2 x 6.9 x 1.4 inches, compared to 10.3 x 7.0 x 1.0 inches. The 1005HA is also a bit thicker than theToshiba mini NB205(1.3 inches) but has the same thickness as the older ASUS 1000HE. It also weighs noticeably more than the 2.2-pound 1008HA, but the 2.8-pound 1005HA netbook didn't put any strain on our shoulder even with the charger (which brings the entire package up to 3.4 pounds). Plus, this machine is lighter than the 3.2-pound 1000HE.
Unlike the 1008HA, all the ports on the 1005HA are exposed and don't require lifting a plastic covering to find them. On the left side is a USB and full VGA port (the 1008HA has a mini-VGA port, which required an adapter that was hidden on the underside of the system). On the right side are a 3-in-1 card reader, an Ethernet port, two USB ports (bringing the USB total to three; one more than the 1008HA), and headphone and microphone jacks.
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Spacious Keyboard and Touchpad
The Eee PC 1005HA includes the same comfortable, spacious keyboard that is found on the 1008HA. Unlike the island-style layout of the 1000HE, there are no spaces between the raised black matte keys, which we found flat (we prefer them raised, as they are on theSamsung N120), but they did provide nice, tactile feedback. Nevertheless, we continue to prefer the feel of the keyboard on the Toshiba mini NB205. As with every netbook keyboard since the Eee PC 1000HE, the right Shift key is full size and directly below the Enter key. A touchpad on/off button sits at the top left of the keyboard.
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The 2.5 x 1.5-inch pad touchpad, similar to that on the 1008HA, blends in with system's deck and is covered with small braille-like dots. Unlike most netbooks, the pad had very little friction, and navigating the desktop didn't require much backtracking. As with other Eee PCs, the touchpad also supports multitouch gestures; using two fingers to pinch the pad and zoom in on a Web page in Internet Explorer was easy, and the image quickly rendered in its new size. The single mouse button was comfortable for making selections, although we prefer the Toshiba NB205's larger pad and dedicated right and left buttons.
Display, Audio, and Webcam
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The 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600-pixel resolution LED-backlit display on the 1005HA allows Web pages and windows to fit to size on the screen. A streaming clip of the Daily Show from Hulu.com looked smooth, and colors were bright. Tilting the glossy screen back 45 degrees resulted in a slight glare; horizontal viewing angles were better. From afar, the inch-thick glossy black bezel (which was larger than we prefer) looked as if the screen was flush with the frame; up close, however, you could clearly make out the raised frame.
Above the display, a 1.3-megapixel webcam provided clear images in a Skype video chat. A friend saw little motion blur when we waved quickly and made out details on our face. The speakers, located at the bottom front edge of the system, allowed us to hear his voice loud and clear from across the room. Similarly, when we listened to Frightened Rabbit's "The Twist," the sound was loud but provided the usual netbook tinniness.
Configured with the same 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N280 processor, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP as the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE and 1008HA, we didn't see much change in everyday performance or benchmarks on the 1005HA. Its score of 1,564 on PCMark05 was just 20 points below the 1008HA and 179 points above the category average. This performance carried over into our everday computing tasks; simultaneously conducting video calls over Skype and surfing the Web with multiple tabs open didn't cause any system hang-ups.
The Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip with 128MB of shared memory delivered a score of 124 on 3DMark06, which was 41 points higher than the 1008HA and 27 points above the category average. A downloaded high-definition 720p video clip played back smoothly with no hiccups.
We also transcoded a 5:05 MPEG-4 video clip (114MB) to the AVI format using Handbrake; the Eee PC 1005HA completed the task in 27 minutes and 25 seconds, which is 10 seconds faster than the 1008HA and just about 2 minutes faster than the category average. Still, a dual-core notebook is a better investment if you'll be doing this type of activity often.\
On our LAPTOP Transfer Test, in which we copy a 4.97GB mixed-media folder, the Eee PC 1005HA notched a score of 19.9 MBps, which, while beating the category average of 14.7 MBps, is slower than the Eee PC 1008HA's 23.1 MBps. While the system didn't heat up and stayed at a relatively cool 95 degrees during usage, the fan located on the left edge sped up and made a loud blowing sound during extended usage.
Stellar Battery Life
Where the Eee PC 1005HA separates itself from other Eee PCs and most other netbooks on the market is in its endurance. Rather than the 2900 mAh lithium polymer battery found on the 1008HA, the 1005HA comes with a 5900 mAh one. On the LAPTOP Battery Test, which assesses endurance by surfing the Web until the battery dies, this netbook lasted 8 hours and 57 minutes, which is more than three hours longer than the six-cell netbook average (5:40), though just a half an hour shy of the record holder, the Toshiba mini NB205 (9:24).
We are even more impressed by its runtime considering the battery only slightly protrudes from the bottom of the system (the battery on the NB205 protrudes from the back). Unlike the battery on the 1008HA, the 1005HA's can be removed or replaced.
The Eee PC 1005HA's 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card provided a solid connection for working on the Web. Delivering 22.5 Mbps and 16.7 Mbps from 15 and 50 feet, respectively--both above average--we maintained a strong signal far from our access point. Streaming videos over YouTube and music over Pandora was seamless. This netbook also includes Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, good for making wireless Skype calls with a headset or using your cell phone as a wireless modem.
Eee Docking Software
The 1005HA also debuts ASUS' new Eee Docking bar, which is centered along the top of the desktop (though you can change its placement in the Settings menu). The pull-down dock provides one-click access to four categories of Eee-branded software.
Click to enlargeThe Eee @Vibe button launches ASUS' multimedia portal that contains Internet radio and TV stations; the software was not loaded on our unit displayed a message that said "coming soon." Eee Sharing contains shortcuts to Data Sync (for syncing files with an external drive), EzMessenger (for transferring files between Eee PC netbooks) and Eee Storage (an online storage system). Eee Xperience contains Eee Splendid (a tool for adjusting the colors on-screen) and Voice Command (which wasn't loaded on our system, but that should let you open applications with voice prompts).
Lastly, Eee Tools contains parental controls, font resizing software, and the Eee docking settings menu. ASUS' standard Super Hybrid Engine software for overclocking or underclocking comes with the netbook, as does a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Works, and Skype.
Configuration Options and Warranty
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Those interested in increasing the RAM can easily remove the small door on the back of the netbook and add a 2GB stick of RAM. The hard drive isn't easily accessible, but owners do get 10GB of free online storage.
ASUS will also offer a cheaper $349 version of the 1005HA, whichlacks a few amenities;it has a1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 processor instead of the faster N280; a 0.3-MP webcam instead of 1.3-MP; no Bluetooth; and no online storage.
ASUS backs this netbook with a standard one-year warranty and 24/7 toll-free tech support.
Check out ASUS's performance in our Tech Support Showdown to see how the manufacturer stacks up against the competition.
An attractive design, comfortable keyboard with appropriately placed keys, and almost nine hours of runtime make the ASUS' Eee PC 1005HA the most well rounded Eee PC to date. And at $389, it's also one of the most affordable netbooks with its feature set. Those lusting after a thinner netbook will be better suited by the Eee PC 1008HA, but will have to pay $40 more and expect three hours' less battery life. Though we still prefer the $399 Toshiba mini NB205's more premium build and island-style keyboard, the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA is a very close second.