ASUS Eee PC 1005HA

The Asus Eee PC 1005HA is one of most good looking and all round performing mini laptops in the market right now. Combine that with excellent display and extra ordinary battery life, you have a winner in your hands. Read this Asus Eee PC 1005HA review to find out more about it.

Asus Eee PC 1005HA review

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Specs

There is no white P model in the US and the lower end white model (1005HA-VU1X-WT) has a black bezel around the display.

10.1” 1024×600 LED Backlit Display (Glossy) (126 cd/m2 max, or 309 cd/m2 with EeeCtl)
Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz) Processor
Intel 945GSE Chipset
Intel GMA 950 Graphics
1GB RAM (2GB max)
160GB HDD (2.5” SATA 5400RPM) + 10GB Online Storage
1.3MP Webcam
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
Stereo speakers, HD Audio
6-Cell 5800mAh 63Wh Battery (dummy SIM slot behind battery)
Windows XP Home SP3
1x Headphone Jack, 1x Microphone Jack, 3x USB 2.0, Card Reader, RJ45 LAN, Kensington Lock, VGA out, AC in

Box Contents

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The contents are the same as most other Eee PC mini laptops released up until now.

Recovery DVD (Image) – The 1005HA also has a recovery partition setup already
Wired mouse
Black sleeve (I have been using it and find it adequate)
AC Brick
AC Cable
Manuals
Battery

Build Quality and Feel

Overall build quality is good. I did see a couple of chinks in the armor though. There are some areas of the screen bezel that aren’t stuck to the display. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this if it wasn’t for that area being the area where I grab hold of the bezel to close the lid.

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The other area was the part glued on above the keyboard and sits directly above the battery. The outer ends of this glued on part are loose and it has become noticeable over time. I didn’t see this at first.

Very very minor issues that don’t detract from the usability of this mini laptop and I’m not worried about it at all.

Now, about the feel. In terms of material it’s a step down from the Eee PC 1015PW / Asus S101x series but on equal terms with the former Eee PC 1000HE mini laptop. 1015PW is also a bit on the expensive end. That means it feels okay, it’s all glossy plastic on the lid, inside, everywhere except the keyboard. That means it’s a fingerprint magnet. The while model is much better at hiding fingerprints as I can only see them on my white 1005HA if I correctly angle the mini laptop to catch some light. The black model is much worse as you can see fingerprints all over the lid and on the screen bezel and on the palm rest area.

The last bit I find very satisfying and that is the 6-cell battery is designed to fit the 1005HA meaning it’s flush with the bottom and does not stick out. Most other mini laptop makers design their mini laptops around a low capacity 3-cell battery, thus have very ugly 6-cell batteries that protrude and extend the height or footprint of the mini laptop even more than they would being integrated well.

Layout

On the front: LED status indicators. Two lights are visible on the outside, one when the 1005HA is on and the other when it is recharging (orange is not finished recharging – handy to know). The stereo speakers are located underneath the front area.

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On the left: fan outlet, Kensington lock, 1x USB, VGA and power.

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On the right: Card reader, audio jacks, 2x USB, RJ45 LAN.

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On the back: Nothing except the battery. Behind the battery is a dummy SIM card slot that has been plugged up. There are models that sell with 3G in parts of the world.

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Inside: two buttons on each side. Power button on the right. Trackpad on/off button on the left. Flush touchpad with single rocker button and a keyboard taking up the full width of the machine.

Display

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The 1005HA sports a glossy display with a 1024 x 600 resolution. There is a hotkey to switch between display modes with an additional virtual 1024 x 768 display (need to scroll) and a compressed 1024 x 768 display which fits everything on screen but makes everything blurry and slow. Not that this is a particular feature on this mini laptop only as it’s on all Eee PC mini laptops.

At the highest brightness setting, the 1005HA achieved 126 cd/m2 brightness and at the lowest setting 4 cd/m2. This brightness is adequate for indoors but will be difficult to see outdoors. The lowest darkness setting allows you to comfortably view the display in a very dark room.

There’s a nifty little utility called EeeCtl that comes in handy. It will boost the display brightness to 309 cd/m2 which will make it much easier to see the screen outdoors provided you are in the shade. This program is only available on ASUS Eee PC mini laptops under 11” in size using a Diamondville processor (Atom N270 / N280) and it will only work on Windows based OSes.

The screen folds back enough that I can get the best viewing angle when the 1005HA is on the floor and I’m looking down on it sitting on the floor as well. A few mini laptops have a problem with achieving this with limited screen opening ranges. The maximum angle is 128 degrees.

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Overall I am very pleased with the display, it is not the best I have seen on a mini laptop in terms of black levels, viewing angles and contrast but it is far from being the worst and looks above average for a mini laptop display.

Keyboard
ASUS decided to go with yet another style of keyboard with the 1005HA. It’s no longer a chiclet keyboard but it is not a standard type of keyboard either. Unlike alot of other mini laptops the keyboard on the 1005HA goes fully edge to edge taking full advantage of the 10-inch mini laptop size.

Note that I have a Japanese keyboard, so keys are overall a little smaller and the layout of keys is different.

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The keyboard exhibits little to no flex out of the box and is very easy to type on with little error. Keys feel good giving just the right amount of feedback. Unlike some other Eee PC’s all the keys make the same noise without hitting anything strange underneath.

It might take a little getting used to at first coming from a different style of keyboard or a larger notebook but you quickly get used to it.

If there was one thing I had to point out is the tiny up and down arrow keys. They are always tricky to use and it can be very easy to mis-hit them since there is no spacing between the keys.

Touchpad
Like with the rest of the Eee PC Seashell range, ASUS uses a touchpad that is flush with the chassis and applies a subtle bumped surface across the touchpad. This is an unusual feeling at first but you do get used to it. The surface of the touchpad isn’t as slick as you would find on other mini laptops and your fingers can get ‘stuck’ often.

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By default multi-touch gestures is limited to only pinching / zooming. You will have to download the latest synaptic drivers to gain multi-touch scrolling and flicking gestures.

By enabling the above gestures solves one major annoyance I had with the 1005HA which is the standard scrolling on the right edge. There is no physical edge so it can take a few guess swipes to see if you are at the edge. The bumpy surface of the touchpad is too subtle to be helpful.

As for the button, some people really hate single buttons, but its something you get used to in no time. If I had to point out one thing about the button is that it is flush with the chassis which has made me mis-hit it a couple of times.

There is a dedicated button to turn off the touchpad which is very useful if you use a mouse. It can also be done with a keyboard shortcut like on previous Eee PCs.

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Sound

Sound quality is adequate as well as volume. Could use much more bass but it just passes my standards where I am not screaming “where’s the bass!!!”. I have been on several plane trips and volume through the headphone port could have been louder. A problem I have had with a lot of mini laptops. Luckily, VLC player had an option to boost sound output to about 400% (I think) which made speech understandable and made watching movies enjoyable)

If you are in Linux though, be aware that the sound settings are not set to 100% so you don’t be surprised if you have low sound volume in Linux. There is more than one switch you have to adjust to fix this in Linux.

Microphone and Webcam
I used Skype (once I upgraded to version 4.x, the older version on Eee PCs are always buggy) to compare the microphone quality against my Skype headset.

I found the quality of the microphone to be average for a mini laptop, perhaps a little more on the poor side. In a normal position in front of the 1005HA with my head slightly closed in more and talking loudly, the microphone picked up my voice but it wasn’t that loud and there was background noise when I was in a quiet room. My headset on the other hand recorded my voice extremely well with no background noise.. well as good as Skype quality gets.

Now for the webcam. Quality is decent even with dim lighting but degrades (gets blurrier) in lower light situations. Still picks up a good image in dark rooms. Seems very average to me for a mini laptop webcam. Frame rates were extremely poor though but it is something that shouldn’t be noticeable on the receivers end.

Heat
The Eee PC 1005HA gets very warm on the bottom even the machine is idle or processing at HD YouTube video at 100%. It becomes even more warm if you have it on a soft surface such as your lap or a sofa. Here are some temperature recordings on the 1005HA.

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Overall, I have had it on my lap and stomach for long periods of time without needing to take it off, despite it become extremely warm.

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Noise
The fan on the 1005HA can get very noticeable at times and at other times seems very quiet. It will ramp up to easily audible levels if you leave the 1005HA on for a while. I’m very sensitive to fan noise from computers but this one just barely passes, thankfully.

Luckily, with EeeCtl you can control the fan noise and make it barely inaudible reducing the fan speed to 30%. This is for Windows only unfortunately.

Upgrades

Like most mini laptops out there these days, the 1005HA only allows you to upgrade the RAM up to 2GB. You can access the HDD and Wi-Fi card by opening up the 1005HA but you have to void your warranty to do so.

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If you are interested in opening up your Eee PC 1005HA, then this excellent guide will help you.

Size and Weight

The ASUS Eee PC 1005HA weighs 1.29kg including the 6-cell battery. The battery itself weighs 311g. ASUS has released much slimmer and lighter 10-inch Eee PC mini laptops but the 1005HA is certainly the Eee PC with the best battery life and is an improvement in weight and size of the older Eee PC 1000H laptop model which is the closest match for this mini laptop.

The power brick is the same tiny power brick you get with all Eee PC mini laptops. The only difference with the Seashell range is that the power plug is now much smaller than the older Eee PC models. It looks more fragile than ever before but it’s great in that it’s very non-intrusive when plugged in, more so than any other mini laptop out there.

When placed on a table the actual height of the 1005HA is 27mm / 1.06” (back) – 38mm / 1.5” (front). If you exclude the battery and the rubber feet, it’s 20mm / 0.79” (front) – 32mm /  1.26” (back) in thickness.

The dimensions for the mini laptop are 264mm x 178mm x 20mm ~ 32mm. Or, 10.4” x 7” x 0.79” ~ 1.26”.

The touchpad area is 83mm x 53mm or 3.3” x 2.1” in size. The keyboard is 251mm x 116mm / 9.9” x 4.6” in size.

Battery Life

There are three ASUS Eee PC 1005HA models. This 1005HA is the highest end one with a 6-cell 5800mAh 63Whr battery rated at 10.5 hours. In reality I didn’t come anywhere close to that figure but nonetheless the battery life is excellent.

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Here are some battery life figures I obtained with the 1005HA:
* All tests where done at 10/16 brightness, or 63% brightness which equals 90 cd/m2 brightness when calibrated using the native white point of the 1005HA.

xxx – Idle Test Wi-Fi ON, Bluetooth OFF, sound 100%
9 hours, 42 mins – Idle, Wi-Fi OFF, Bluetooth OFF, sound 100%
8 hours, 30 mins – Web browser surfing, Wi-Fi ON, Bluetooth OFF, sound 100%
7 hours, 16 mins – Watched looped 480P (DVD quality) movies, 100% sound, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth OFF
6 hours, 21 mins – Battery Eater Pro (100% CPU usage), Wi-Fi ON, sound 100%, Bluetooth OFF

So, judging from the above figures I would estimate the average use of the 1005HA would result in a battery life ranging from 7.5 hours – 9 hours. Very good in my book.

Linux and Windows 7

I have run Jolicloud on the Eee PC 1005HA, which is based on Ubuntu 9.04 mini laptop Remix and most hardware features run great out of the box. The only exception is the touchpad on/off switch, SHE hotkeys and loss of multi-touch gestures. You can get these features to work, there are guides out there on the Internet but I can do without these features. I run Jolicloud full-time on this 1005HA but dual-booted with Windows XP just in case I run into some problems, which I have (like wired Internet access not working in Jolicloud in a hotel room)

I haven’t tried Windows 7 on the 1005HA but many users on the EeeUser forums are running it well with the minor exception that newer BIOS versions will invalidate the APCI drivers on Windows 7 which means you’ll have to stick on an older BIOS revision or wait until ASUS releases the 1005HA with Windows 7 Starter Edition which should be in a couple of months, or maybe even this month. When that happens, you should be able to snatch Windows 7 drivers easily.

Performance
Like with all mini laptops out there, the Achilles’ heel is flash playback. The highest quality YouTube videos will become slideshows when played. 1080P video is not possible. 720P video cannot be played out of the box but only with CoreAVC codecs (not free).

Google Chrome gives the fastest experience when web browsing. Web browsing is a little slower in Linux, and atrocious with Firefox.

I would not use any mini laptop to do video encoding, playing 3D games, or working with large and/or high DPI images on a daily basis.

For anything else, a mini laptop or the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA is an excellent mini laptop / device to handle your needs.

Asus Eee PC  1005HA Review Summary

Pros
Excellent battery life (~8.5 hours)
6-cell battery integrates well
Extremely bright display (309 cd/m2 with EeeCtl)
Large keyboard is easy to type on
Multi-touch touchpad (scrolling and flicking)
Good Linux compatibility
Cons
Can get extremely warm
Access to HDD and Wi-Fi voids warranty, needs opening up
Black model is a fingerprint magnet
Touchpad surface is ‘sticky’

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