Asus Eee PC 1005HA

I can sum up the Asus Eee PC 1005HA in one sentence: It's a slightly thicker, slightly cheaper version of the Eee PC 1008HA. Hey, it's only fair. At this point, Asus releases more netbooks than Baskin Robbins has flavors. I won't recap all the versions we've reviewed--or are about to review--but the netbook maker continues making nips and tucks with designs, making just enough variations to warrant a separate take of the same micromachine. Is the 1005HA for you, though?

Let's address the few big differences up front. This machine sells for $389, or about 50 bucks less than the 1008HA. The reason? The 1005HA isn't trying to slink its way into a manila envelope--it is slightly thicker (1.4 inches versus the 1008's svelter 1.1-inch waist). That's largely because this model has the VGA port grafted back on its side instead of having the space-saving dongle that slimmed down the 1008. Also gone: the little flaps covering all those "unsightly" ports sprouting around the machine. The fashion-conscious computer user may still prefer the 1008HA's lines, but in all other respects the 1005HA does its best to essentially remain the same machine.

The other big changeup from the 1008: a six-cell battery, which guarantees you a reasonably long battery life. In our PC World lab tests, we found that the machine hung in for 8 hours, 11 minutes. Not too shabby--even for a long road trip--but not enough to unseat the nearly 10-hour performance of Toshiba's NB205-310. (The PC World Test Center hasn't finished all its tests, so we can't yet offer a PCW Rating. We'll update this review when that testing is done.)

Under the 1005HA's glossy black exterior--which is sure to attract all sorts of unwanted smudges--are current netbook innards and the default loadout of ports. You must know 'em by heart at this point (I do), so count along with me: an Intel Atom N280 CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, Bluetooth, and 802.11n Wi-Fi run the show. How does it perform? It falls right in the zone for netbooks. Scoring a little on the high side, it ranks a 38 in PC WorldBench tests (the average, to date, hovers around 35). So obviously, you're fully covered on your basic office documents and Web surfing needs.

Lining the outside, the usual retinue of connection options: an ethernet hookup, three USB ports, an SD Card reader, and headphone and microphone jacks. Nothing shocking there.

The keyboard is 92 percent of full size, with a good layout, and it feels big and comfortable. The buttons are firm and large enough to type on easily. Even the metallic mouse-button bar is reasonably secure--and I especially like Asus's treatment of the touchpad. Instead of using dainty trim or a different material to indicate that you're within the strike zone, this model incorporates tiny bumps like the 1008. Only difference is, the 1005 dials down the divots, so it's a little fainter to the touch. And for some it might be a hair tougher discerning where the touchpad ends and the wrist rest begins. Not a huge deal--just a personal preference thing.

As for the 10.1-inch screen, it looks sufficiently sharp and crisp at its native 1024-by-600-pixel resolution. (You can scale this setting higher in an emulated mode.) Colors pop when you tilt the display at just the right angle--as is the case with most laptops and netbooks. Also typically, the screen's glossy coating will leave you squinting when you try to view it in broad daylight.

The other big features in play here come in the form of the power toggle mode (accessible through holding the function button and tapping the space bar) and a software suite that sits on your desktop. The software suite breaks down into an Asus download store (a portal for free apps would be handier) and access to a free 10GB of online storage, with syncing data and quick applets geared to general users who want to quickly increase font sizes or color-calibrate a picture.

The 1005HA is a compromise. Granted, it's a good one for those that liked the sleek style of the Eee PC 1008HA, but wanted either to see less flash or to spend less cash. That said, you're seeing netbook prices driving down into the $299 range. So take a look for yourself to see if this fits your netbook needs.

This story, "Asus Eee PC 1005HA" was originally published by PCWorld.

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