With the Eee PC Seashell 1005HA (SBLK01), ASUS has introduced a netbook that has superior battery life and better overall performance than probably every other model currently on the market. It has a 10.2in glossy screen, a glossy exterior shell, and it weighs 1.2kg, which makes it a little heavy. But the extra weight brings battery life that is miles ahead of the competition.
The ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA (SBLK01) ships with a 6-cell, 63 Watt hour–rated battery. This isn't the highest battery rating we've seen in a netbook to date, but it produced the longest running time. It lasted five hours in our rundown test, in which we loop standard-resolution videos while the performance of the netbook is at its highest setting, the screen brightness is maximised and the wireless radio is enabled. This is better than the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (four and a half hours) and the Dell Latitude 2100 (4hr 27min), for example. You'll be able to get more battery life if you use a balanced power management setting, though your workload will also have an impact on how long it can run while away from a power outlet.
The ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA has standard netbook specifications; you get an Intel Atom N280 CPU running at 1.66GHz, 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, integrated Intel 945 Express graphics, and a 160GB hard drive. It performed very well in our CPU tests. It took 7min 29sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, which is 16sec faster than the ASUS Eee PC 1004DN, for example, and it took 6min 48sec to render a 3D image in Blender, which is exactly the same time as the 1004DN.
Where the Eee PC Seashell 1005HA shone brightest was in the hard drive test, in which it recorded a transfer speed of 24.94 megabytes per second. This is slightly better than the HP Mini 2140, which achieved a rate of 24.22MBps. It's not altogether surprising, though, as the hard drive in the Seashell notebook is a Seagate Momentus ST9160310AS with a spin speed of 5400rpm.
As you can see from these results, the ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA is one of the best performing netbooks on the market, if not the best. It's definitely faster than other netbooks we've tested, and we've seen almost all of them. Coupled with the long battery life, it's hard to go past this netbook if you're after top performance.
The ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA is 26.2cm wide, 17.8cm deep and 3.5cm thick, which makes it small for a 10.2in notebook, and it feels a little cramped to type on. Its keys are 16.5mm wide and they aren't the 'chiclet' type used by the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE. The keys produce good travel and response, but the keyboard itself is a little bouncy. The touchpad sits flush with the palm rest. If it didn't feel slightly bumpy, you wouldn't know where it starts and ends. We'd prefer a regular touchpad with a different surface and a frame around it. Nevertheless it was accurate during our tests, so we can't fault its functionality.
On the sides of the Seashell 1005HA is where you will find three USB 2.0 ports, a D-Sub port, Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8132), an SD card slot, headphone and microphone ports and a Kensington lock. There are no ports on the rear of the netbook, as this is where the battery resides. Despite being a 6-cell battery, it doesn't stick out from the rear of the unit; in fact the screen opens up and travels down behind the battery. Rounding out the features are a webcam, enhanced 802.11g wireless networking (using the Atheros AR9285, which can deliver a maximum speed of 150 megabits per second) and Bluetooth.
The screen has a native resolution of 1024x600 pixels, which isn't enough to display many dialog boxes (such as the one in iTunes), and it can make Web surfing feel a little cramped. However the touchpad supports two finger inputs, and by using a gesture you can zoom in and out of Web pages quite easily. The drawback is that small text is not entirely readable on the screen when you zoom out.
Because the screen is glossy, it is susceptible to reflections from lights; this can be annoying when you watch videos.
Overall, we recommend the ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA if you want class-leading performance and battery life. It's a great mini-notebook to take on the road with you and it's especially useful for travellers thanks to its long battery life.
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