Asus Eee PC 1005HA Seashell Review
Design and Build Quality
In our evaluation of the 1008HA earlier this month, we proclaimed it to be the most beautiful Eee PC to date. We're here to tell you that said claim still stands. As sleek and stylish as the 1005HA is, there's no doubt that the 1008HA is just more attractive. For starters, the 1005HA we're critiquing today does away with the gorgeous port covers present on the 1008HA in order to make them more accessible. While this move certainly enhances utility, it detracts somewhat from the beauty. Not that non-covered ports are a bad thing--in fact, we'd argue that we prefer ports that are more accessible on the go--but the style factor is definitely hampered somewhat by the choice.
At a glance, you might think that the 1005HA is simply a 1008HA with its ports unveiled. But if you dig deep, you'll realize that these are actually two different machines entirely. First off, the 1005HA weighs in a bit heavier at 2.8 pounds , while the 1008HA tips the scales at 2.42 pounds. With more weight comes more plastic, and there's definitely a difference in thickness. The 1008HA managed to slip in at just 1" thick, while the 1005HA measures in at 1.4" thick. Sure, 1.4" thick is still pretty thin in the grand scheme of things, but it's a sizable increase (percentage wise, anyway) from that other "Seashell."
Thankfully, the increase in thickness doesn't go to waste. One of our gripes with the 1008HA was the proprietary VGA dongle; in order to access the VGA output, you had to pop out a dongle underneath and connect it that way. With the 1005HA, the VGA port is standard and ready for your plug right there on the side. For those who'll be connecting their netbook to TVs, external monitors or projectors for presentations, the 1005HA makes your life a lot easier.
Elsewhere around the edges, the 1005HA maintains most of the same trimmings as the 1008HA, albeit in uncovered fashion. You'll find an extra USB 2.0 port (this one has 3 compared to just 2 on the 1008HA), the same 1.3MP webcam, a single Ethernet jack, a built in multi-format card reader, an AC input and audio input/output (3.5mm) jacks.
The overall build quality is as expected for a "Seashell" Eee PC. The whole machine felt suitably sturdy, if not a bit hefty compared to the ultra thin 1008HA. As with most netbooks, we also found the top lid to be just a wee bit flimsy (mashing down in the center produced some slight flex, but nothing too terrible), while the sides and bottom were adequately solid.
As for ports that we wish were here, we'd love to see yet another USB socket (though having 3 is nice), and an HDMI and ExpressCard slot wouldn't hurt either. Not that we'd necessarily expect these on such a thin and light netbook, but they would've definitely been nice additions. Even by netbook standards, however, the Eee PC 1005HA isn't overflowing with connectivity options. If you need a 56k modem, ExpressCard, HDMI/DVI socket, 4+ USB ports or a PCMCIA socket, you'll need to look elsewhere.
The keyboard within is the same as on the 1008HA, so 92% full-size. It's definitely roomy for a netbook, but we wouldn't want to type up this full review on it without taking a number of breaks. The 10.1" LED backlit display (1024x600 pixels) is also the same, which we found to be plenty bright and crisp for the price. The trackpad is the same dimpled one found on the 1008HA, and while it supports a few finger gestures, it's not a full-on multi-touch pad. In other words, you can't do a two-finger Webpage scroll, but you can slide up and down pages by sliding your index finger over the pad's right side.