ASUS 10.1" (160 GB, Atom, 1.66 GHz, 1 GB) Notebook Reviews

ASUS 10.1" (160 GB, Atom, 1.66 GHz, 1 GB) Notebook

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The ASUS 1005HA: A Perfect Example of What You Should Expect in a Netbook

Oct 18, 2009 (Updated Oct 24, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Battery life, Bluetooth, wireless n adapter, sd card slot.

Cons:Difficult to access hard drive

The Bottom Line: The 1005HA currently sets the standard for the netbook class.   Full feature set, good battery life, replaceable memory and battery, and more.   Just wish the touchpad worked better....


    The Asus 1005HA (Seashell) Netbook is currently the most popular model in Asus' line of netbook computers, one of many models with a 10" display and Intel's 1.66ghz N280 Atom cpu running Windows XP. Released in late June of 2009, the 1005HA has received many good reviews, crediting its compact, functional "Seashell" design (with curving edges that close together like a seashell).   As I write this (Oct 2009),  different variants of the 1005HA occupy 5 of the top 10 spots on Amazon's top selling netbook list.     With the largest available battery ( 6-Cell 63Wh), the 1005 HA  weighs only 46 ounces, and is about 1 5/16" thick at its thickest point (the back) tapering to less than 1" along the front edge.

I purchased an Asus 1008HA a few months ago, and it was used by my family extensively for a couple months.   My son liked so much, that he eventually "borrowed" it permanently.   That 1008HA is now being used on college campus for notetaking and school work.   I replaced it with the 1005HA a couple months ago, and now share it with my wife, a teacher who takes the netbook to school each day.

Features of the 1005HA include:

1GB ram (Hyundai PC2-6400 DDR2 ram in my case), easily upgradeable
160 gb hard drive (a 5400 rpm Hitachi HTS543216L9S), under keyboard, difficult to upgrade
802.11N Wifi adapter and ethernet
Bluetooth 2.1
A nearly full size keyboard (w/ large shift, return, Caps lock, and backspace keys)
1.3 mp camera
Microphone
"Multitouch" mouse pad
Intel 945 chipset and Intel 950 graphics
Small, lightweight power adapter/charger with 5' long cords (10' total)
Zippered slip case included
Three external USB, one ethernet, mic, headphone, and VGA ports.
sd card slot
10 gb online storage for 18 months
Stereo speakers
1024 X 600 display
5600 maH (63whr) Li-ion polymer battery (user replaceable)
No DVD/CD Drive

Some of these features (and consequently performance) are common to the vast majority of mainstream netbooks.  Microsoft only provides inexpensive Win XP licenses (or Win 7) for use on netbooks with hard drives no larger than 160gb and no more than 1 gb ram. Consequently, most netbooks match that limit.   If you're comparing netbooks, the features that vary between models include keyboard layout and feel, stereo bluetooth and "N" wifi options, flash memory slots, expansion options (memory, battery, hard drive replacement, etc), and size and weight.  

In almost all these areas, the Asus 1005HA fares well.   Notably, though the hard drive is difficult to replace (you'll have to remove the keyboard), and the wireless card is inaccessible.   The single memory slot is easily accessed by removing a single screw on the bottom of the netbook.  The battery can by pulled out after  sliding a couple of locking tabs.   

Appearances and Controls


The 1005HA weighs in at just over 2.8 lbs. It feels solid,  and is reasonably attractive and very "usable". Closed, the laptop is 1 5/16" thick at the back, tapering down to about 1" inches at the front.   One usb port, a vga port, belkin lock connector and the power connector are on the left side.   On the right are two USB ports, an ethernet port, sd card slot, and headphone and microphone ports.

In the US, the 1005HA is available in glossy, finger print attracting black, white, blue (my choice), or pink.   The keyboard layout and feel is excellent, about as good as you can find on a netbook, about 92% of standard size, according to Asus.    The keys appear to be full size, while the spacing between keys is less than the spacing on a normal keyboard.   The shift and return keys are large enough you won't have any problems hitting them. The backspace key is oversized, the delete key is in the right location in the upper right. The only real trade offs I see are the small arrow keys in the lower right corner of the keyboard. The feel of key board is good,  users get decent feedback from key presses,  equivalent to most of the flat keyboards you find on standard laptops, and better than average compared to other netbooks. ASUS also provides "fn" key access to screen brightness and audio volume from the keyboard.

The "multitouch" touchpad is a rectangular area below the space bar.  The multitouch pad isn't terrible, but it is disappointing, particularly when web browsing.   The touchpad surface is bumpy, which allows you to distinguish it by feel from the surrounding surface. Users can chose to use either the left or right side of the touchpad as a scroll wheel, running a finger up or down the edge scrolls whatever is on the screen, or, at least it's supposed to. In practice the scroll action is erratic. When browsing the web, it often doesn't work while web pages are still loading, or if the cursor is over a clickable hotspot. The multitouch feature allows you to zoom in and out on the screen by touching the pad with two fingers and then moving your fingers close together or further apart. In practice, this works ~ 80% of the time, suffering the same limitation as the scroll feature.

Battery Life

My Asus 1005HA is powered by a 6 cell 63 whr Li-ion polymer battery.   I ran a test of battery life by watching a streaming Netflix movie over the an internet wifi connection. Video brightness was set at 50%, and the sound was routed through headphones. The Asus battery optimization utility (the "Asus super hybrid engine") was set in "Power Saving" mode. The laptop ran for 6 hours and 20 minutes.   Asus claims that if you turn wifi, bluetooth, and the onboard camera off, you can use the laptop for up to 10.5 hrs,  depending on what you're doing.    I expect few users will ever achieve Asus' numbers, but the wifi/video test I ran was fairly intensive and still achieved well over 6 hours.   8 hours should be achievable if you turn off wifi and bluetooth and just use the netbook for running office applications or something similar.

Display

The 1005HA has a LED backlit 1024 X 600 LCD display, standard for most 10" netbooks. The display can be set to 1024 X 768, but only a 1024 X 600 section is diplayed at a time. Moving the cursor to the top or bottom of the display scrolls to the unseen areas. It takes a while to get used to the 1024 X 600 aspect ratio, the screen height is lower than what you find on most desktop and larger laptop widescreen displays, meaning you see less. This is a bit annoying when browsing web pages.   If you have a menu bar, address bar, and a tool bar on the top of your browser window and an status bar and task bar at the bottom, you find there's not as much space left for actually viewing the web page.  If you like to also include a couple of other tool bars on your browser, you really start to impact the viewing area.

Left and right viewing angles are fine,  viewing off center to the left or right doesn't present any problems.  Vertical viewing angles aren't quite as good, but acceptable for a netbook.   Vertical viewing angles seem to be better than those on the ASUS 1008HA which I also own (surprising, to me). 

In day to day routine use, glossy display looks good, colors are bright and realistic   Images and text are sharp on the screen. The display is very glossy, not a problem in indoor lighting, but screen glare is a problem in sunlight.   

Using the ASUS 1005HA

Including the power adapter, the ASUS weight about 3 lbs 6 ounces. If you're used to traveling with a 5 or 6 lb laptop plus charger, the 1005HA feels very comfortably light. It is small enough to fit fully open on the tray table on most planes, unlike 13" or 14" laptops.

The 1005HA handles "mainstream" applications, word processing, web browsing, and viewing standard definition video with at least acceptable performance. The netbook comes with a 60 day Microsoft Office trial, and those applications ran without problems. We've installed Abiword instead of purchasing a full version of Word or Office. Compared to a mainstream laptop, the 1008HA feels a little sluggish, especially when browsing when I open several web pages at the same time. I also use a Dell M1330 laptop, with a 2Ghz T7250 core 2 duo cpu running Vista, and it feels snappy after using the ASUS netbook.

I've watch several streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix, which played without problem. Standard definition video on Youtube plays fine, but HD content is very choppy, almost unwatchable. I've ripped a couple of DVD's to the hard drive using H264 codec (using Handbrake), and playback fine.   I installed VLC media player to be help ensure I'd be able to decode most of the codecs currently used.    We've also installed iTunes and the Zune software on this netbook.   Both run without problems.   You'll want to keep headphones with this netbook, the speakers are soft even at full volume, useful only in quiet locations.

Any kind of gaming that requires 3D acceleration is out of the question for current generation netbooks. Casual games work well though, I've purchased and installed a few casual games from Steam (steampowered.com) and other sites,  Plants vs Zombies, World of Goo, Droplitz, and Crayon Physics Deluxe play acceptably, though the 1024 X 600 screen resolution makes it a little more difficult to play some games I've tried.

We've made numerous phone calls using Skype out, and sound quality was fine on both ends. Video chats over Skype using the webcam worked well.    Asus describes the microphone as a "Digital Array Mic, which consists of two powerful microphones", designed to eliminate background noises or echo.   

Wireless Networking

The "n" wireless networking has worked flawlessly.   The 1005HA "sees" and connects to wireless networks in the airports, coffee houses, motels, etc, that I've visited.    We use this netbook to occasionaly  watch Netflix videos over a wireless connection, or DVD's that I've ripped and stored on my Windows Home Server, connecting through a Dlink DIR 655 router.   Netflix finds the signal quality/strength is high enough to play the videos in HQ model from anywhere in my 4 bedroom signal story home, and DVD rips as .vob or H.264 files play flawlessly using VLC media player.   Note that while Netflix movies seem to play without problem, this netbook isn't capable of playing HD video content from Youtube without stuttering.

Versions of the Asus 1005HA

The version of the 1005HA that I own is the 1005HA-PU1X-BU.   Asus offers many variations of the 1005 HA.    If you're looking for specific features, keep the following in mind:

1005HA-P models are the top tier versions.  These include bluetooth, the largest 63 w-hr cell battery, the 1.66ghz N280 Atom cpu, and a 1.3 mp web cam.  Street price is $355-$390 (Oct 2009).   The display has a glossy finish.

1005HA-V (or M) series include a 48 w-hr battery, the 1.6ghz N270 cpu, and a 0.3mp webcam,  and lack a bluetooth adapter.   The display has a matte finish.

1005HA-E  series include a 23 w-hr battery, the 1.6ghz N270 cpu, and a 0.3mp webcam.   No Bluetooth adapter is included.  This is the lowest priced model, typically street prices at just under $300.

1005HA-B is a version (I believe) sold primarily through Best Buy, though I've seen refurbished models in other online stores.  Includes the 23 whr battery, the N270 cpu, and a 1.3 mp webcam.   List price is $300.

The last two letters in the model number designate the color, numbers ending in BU are blue, BK is black, PI is pink, and WT are white.   The X in the model series refers to Windows XP, while model numbers with a "7" will include Windows 7 Starter Edition.

Conclusion

The ASUS 1005HA is a nearly perfect example of what you should expect in a netbook in late 2009.    The only real weakness of this netbook is the touchpad, it works, but it doesn't handle scrolling as well as my Dell notebook,  an annoyance when I'm browsing web pages.   The 1005 offers slightly better than average performance, a full set of features, and a solid, attractive design.   The keyboard layout and feel is very usable, most users won't have many problems switching between this netbook and a desktop.    That said, there's not a lot of difference between many of the market leading netbooks from Dell, Acer, Asus, Samsung, Lenovo, and others.   The Asus 1005HA is definitely one of the models you should consider when netbook shopping, but its just one of several strong candidates in a large, competitive field.  Look for the features you want, and shop around for the best price from a vendor you trust. 


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 370
Operating System: Windows
Processor: Other
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 10 inches
RAM: More than 256
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50


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