The Little Netbook That Can: The Asus EEE-PC 1005HAB
by Stuart Bowen
Stuart Bowen is an English Education student at East Tennessee State University. Stuart is also a former Best Buy employee and is an owner of the Asus EEEPC 1005HAB, which he used to process this article.
An Untimely Death
Imagine it is a Thursday night two weeks before the final exams of the fall semester. There are cans of Red Bull and Mountain Dew strewn across the white tile floor. The only sound that breaks the silence of the night is the perpetual tapping of computer keys. The dorm room’s lighting consists of a small lamp on your desk and the glow of the LCD screen of your laptop. You are typing and typing, rushing to finish a paper that should have been completed yesterday. Suddenly, the light radiating from the LCD screen vanishes. You look down at the keyboard hoping to find the blue power indicator ring still illuminated only to find it lifeless and dim. A horrifying smell is makes its way to your nose. The motherboard is fried, and eight hours before your final paper is due in your Shakespeare and His Age class, the only copy of your term paper goes up in smoke, literally.
This unfortunate episode happened to me during the fall semester of my junior year in college. My Gateway laptop that I relied heavily on to process all of my papers died a tragic sudden death. Fortunately for me, my roommate was kind enough to lend me his laptop for the night, but that still left me with no computer of my own.
With only weeks left in the school year and having several other papers and projects still to complete, I needed a new computer in the worst way. Having no time to waste, I immediately went to Best Buy to pick up a new computer.
Being an employee of Best Buy during my time of my need had some advantages. Every day, I would hear from fellow employees how good or bad this and that product was. One of the things that I kept hearing was how great netbooks were.
Research and Selection
The netbook category of personal computers was introduced into the computing world in late 2007. What made a netbook so different from other portable computers was its portability and low price ($200-$600). Netbooks boast a more compact size and a longer battery life than a notebook (laptop) computer does. A netbook has a condensed keyboard, a removed DVD/CD drive, and a unique array of computer components that are tailored for portability.
Most netbook users are lite-computing, and netbook users mainly use a netbook for internet surfing, emailing, typing, and music sharing. Because netbooks are low in price and ultra-portable, netbooks have become very popular among business travelers and college students.
Being a poor college student that needed something portable and reliable, the netbook seemed like a natural fit. It was small, cheap, and could do everything that I needed a computer to do. However, I still needed to pick a particular netbook and there were a plethora of options to choose from.
A friend of mine while I worked at Best Buy was constantly raving about this company called Asus. I had heard of Asus through other employees as well, but I had never directly dealt with them. Since I had heard so many positive comments about the company, I could not ignore the praise and positive reviews of my co-workers, and I decided to do a little research on the company to see if they were really a viable option.
Asus is one of the most respected names in the computer industry. Asus has been making high quality computer components since 1990, and chances are, if you build your own computers or you know someone that does, there are Asus parts somewhere inside the computer. In 2007, Asus jumped into the Netbook market. Since that time, Asus Netbooks have won countless awards from all over the world, and Asus’s popularity has driven them to become the second largest seller of netbooks in the world, behind Acer.
The company seemed sound, so all there was left to do was pick which particular model of Asus netbook would be coming home with me.
Asus 1005 HAB
I purchased my Asus EEE-PC 1005HAB in December 2009. I chose the 1005HAB because of Asus’s reputation, its nearly four hour battery life, its component quality, and its value. Nine months later, I can confidently say that the 1005HAB from Asus has all the features that a netbook is expected to have and is a workhorse for everyday use.
The Asus 1005HAB has an Intel Atom N270 Single Core 1.6GHz processor. This is a netbook specific processor, and most netbooks under $350 use this same processor. The N270 processor is not made for intense gaming, and, since the minimum processing speeds for most modern games is at least a 2.4 GHz, the 1005HAB will not be running World of Warcraft anytime soon. However, when used for word processing, internet surfing, and emails, the N270 and 1005HAB combination work flawlessly.
The 1005HAB has 1GB of DDR2 RAM (Random Access Memory-allows data to be accessed any time). 1GB of DDR2 RAM is common among netbooks, but the 1005HAB has an expandable memory slot so that a total of 2GB of DDR2 RAM is possible. Though not vital, the upgraded memory slot is a nice feature that many of the 1005HAB’s competitors such as the HP 210 series do not have.
The 1005HAB comes with a 160GB hard drive. This is on the low end of the scale as far as netbook memory storage is concerned, as most netbooks now have over 200GBs of storage. However, for word processing, internet and email usage, and light multimedia storage, the supplied 160GBS of built-in storage is plenty, and, if you find yourself needing more storage, the 1005HAB has the ability to expand its storage through an external hard drive
Accessories and Ports
The 1005HAB also comes with three high-speed usb ports, a wired Ethernet port, an SD memory card slot, headphone and microphone jacks, a DVI (Digital Video Input) port, and a 0.3 Megapixel webcam. Though nothing here is outside of the ordinary, I have used all of these ports and accessories and have found them to work flawlessly. However, this little netbook does not have an HDMI or S-Video port, and if you are trying to connect this to a projector or television, the DVI port is your only option.
Navigation and Viewing
The engineers at Windows recognized that netbooks needed a smaller, more condensed version of Windows 7 that would be light on process and memory usage. Windows 7 Starter edition is just that. Equipped on all current netbooks, including the 1005HAB, this lite-version of Windows 7 cuts out the non-essentials to conserve system usage. The cutouts include having a non-changeable background and not having software installed to let you watch video from an optical drive (DVD or other drive that is attached through a USB port). However, in no way am I saying Windows 7 is a bad operating system. Windows 7 starter has been quite reliable for me and is very simple to operate. Accessing menus and operations is virtually identical to Windows Vista, and icons and shortcuts work exactly as preceding versions of Windows always have.
The 1005 HAB’s keyboard, as with any netbook, is small. This puppy is tiny, and many people have issue with its compact size and layout. It has a smaller area than many of the HP models of netbooks, but this is because Asus did not want to sacrifice the touchpad’s layout for keyboard size.
The keyboard measures ten inches wide and it is packed with features. With a function button that can change the keyboard over to its secondary functions, all the classic keyboard features including a number pad and page scrolling as well as some new functions, such as the ability to send the display from the screen to an external source such as a projector with the push of a button, are included. I will admit, the keyboard does take some getting used to, but after a couple weeks you quit inadvertently hitting buttons and typing becomes second nature.
The touchpad and mouse on the other hand is something that I still have issues with. The touchpad incorporates “double touch” controls, which is a nice feature, but the touchpad lacks a designated scroll, which on a computer this size is a must. Many competitors and newer Asus models have this scrolling feature on the right side of the touch pad. The 1005HAB doesn’t lack the scrolling feature entirely. It is incorporated into the double touch controls, along with several other features such as page zoom, page rotate, and page drag. These functions all require similar actions and performing these functions gets confusing at times.
A quick positive about the touchpad is that it follows the same “touchpad on top, mouse-click on bottom” style that most other laptop computers have. Competitors such as the Samsung N210 and some of the HP models have a smaller touchpad, and they have awkwardly located the mouse-clicks on the left and right sides of the touchpad rather than the bottom. This was meant to conserve space and allow for a larger keyboard, but it is unpractical. When I tried to use the N210’s mouse/touchpad layout, I found it hard to use and uncomfortable.
The mouse is a split-single bar style. There is no visible separation between the left and right mouse clicks. The mouse clicks are both present, but hidden under the single chrome mouse-click bar. This does not take much getting used to, but I prefer a two- button mouse mainly for its aesthetics.
The screen on the 1005HAB is a real quality piece. It is not high definition, but it features a higher resolution that most of its competitors and is LED backlit. LED backlighting allows for a more even screen lighting and it uses less power than standard LCD.
The key feature to every netbook is its portability. After all, that is why they were created. The dimensions of the 1005HAB scream portability. Weighing only 2.2lbs, the 1005HAB is the lightest netbook on the market. Also, measuring only 10.3’’ wide and 1.4’’ tall when closed, this little netbook can fit in all the netbook sleeves and covers designed for the 10’’ market of netbooks.
One really nice feature that the 1005HAB has is an internal Ethernet card that is capable of Wireless N connections. Wireless internet cards are standard on all netbooks and laptops, but Wireless N capability is not standard. Wireless N is the newest form of internet connectivity, and it has greater speed and signal strength than Wireless B or G. In addition to its Wireless N capable Ethernet card, Asus has also included a wired Ethernet port for those of us who do not have wireless access or travel to hotels and places that only provide wired internet access.
The battery is the one component of the portability category that does not excel. The included lithium-ion battery is a 3-cell unit. This means there are three individual batteries wired together inside the case to make the working batter that we actually see. However, due to breakthroughs in battery technology, many newer netbooks have a 6-cell battery that has twice the number of individual batteries inside the case. They are wired so that the voltage stays the same, but the capacity and the amount of time the computer can run is doubled. So, the 1005HAB’s 3 hour and 48 minute battery life is a little behind what most new netbooks have available.
Personally, this is not an issue for me. I use a netbook lightly, and four straight hours of use is not something that is typical for me. However, for someone that has to use their netbook for an extended period of time four hours of battery life will not get the job done, and either an extended life battery or a different model netbook are the only options.