Asus Seashell review: Eee PC 1008HA

Stunning design goes hand in hand with fine usability, but the non-replaceable battery and high price count against it.

4
Price when reviewed 
368

Page 1 of 2 Asus Seashell review: Eee PC 1008HA

The arrival of yet another Asus netbook might not seem much of an event - after all, prospective purchasers can already befuddle themselves with the other 22 in the range - but its latest, the 1008HA, is a little bit special.

Glossy plastic reaches around its gorgeous, curvy physique, and whatever colour you plump for - choose from black, white, red or pink - its slim, futuristic lines are more reminiscent of Apple's far pricier Macbook Air than the average netbook: a commendable achievement given the price.

It isn't, however, quite as sturdy-feeling as Asus' previous design-led netbook, the stunning S101. Pick up the 1008HA by the corner and the all-plastic construction creaks gently in response. Dare to be a little rougher with it, and you'll discover noticeable flex in both the chassis and the glossy screen above.

But, a few creaks here and there are understandable given the headline weight of just 1.13kg and dimensions that peak at just 26mm thick. Next to this netbook, even the class leader - the Samsung's NC10 - looks chunky at 37mm thick and a little overweight at 1.31kg.

Trick of the light

The clean, crisp lines of the Seashell's figure are aided and abetted by a number of design choices, some sensible, some less so. The most glaringly obvious of these is Asus' decision to secrete all the ports and connectors away out of sight.

Unclip the flaps on the left and right-hand edge of the Seashell and you'll discover two USB ports, a 10/100 Ethernet socket, two 3.5mm audio minijacks and a curious little socket which looks rather like one of the mini-USB variety. It's nothing of the sort, however, and is actually a mini-VGA port. To save space, Asus provides a VGA dongle which, cleverly, stows away in a magnetic compartment in the 1008HA's underside.

Other compromises are a little more difficult to forgive, however. Flip the 1008HA over and you'll spot the second omission: there's no removable battery. To keep the Seashell's figure suitably trim, Asus has opted for a three-cell internal Lithium Polymer battery rated at just 2,900mAh.

A three-cell battery normally heralds disaster in the battery life stakes, but imagine our surprise when the Seashell lasted for an impressive 5hrs 39mins in our light use test. Of course, enabling the wireless and surfing the web will leave the figure dwindling to nearer the four hour mark, but it is an impressive performance for such a conservatively rated battery.

Touching down

There are no compromises when it comes to usability, though. The keyboard is sensibly laid out - the cursor keys squashing down to make way for a nice wide right-hand shift key - and each key responds with a reassuringly positive action. Only the half-height Enter key on our US model gave us any cause for complaint, and that will thankfully be making way for a proper, full-height Enter key in European models.

The trackpad is worth singling out for praise, too. The single button which rocks left and right might not be everybody's cup of tea, but the dimpled finish to the pad feels great under the finger and the buttons responds with a firm, crisp click.

Under the bonnet

Powering the 1008HA is a host of familiar faces. Intel's Atom is present in its 1.66GHz N280 incarnation, and the 1GB of DDR2 memory and 160GB hard disk are standard netbook fare. Consequently, they weren't any great surprises when it came to benchmark results; the 1008HA earned a solid 0.42 in our benchmarks.

Page 1 of 2 Asus Seashell review: Eee PC 1008HA

Price when reviewed 
368(£368 inc VAT)

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 262 x 178 x 26mm (WDH)
Weight 1.130kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N280
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2

Screen and video

Screen size 10.2in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 160GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3MP
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 339
Battery life, heavy use 187
Overall application benchmark score 0.42
Office application benchmark score 0.54
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.32
Encoding application benchmark score 0.38
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.48

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows XP Home
OS family Windows XP

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