With an incredible number of netbooks available on the market, how does one compete? With ASUS and their 1008HA (Seashell), the simple answer is to make not a faster notebook, but a feature-rich netbook with a better design. The 1008HA delivers on both counts, with the best netbook design we’ve seen to date and other bonuses on the software front.
One major issue that plagues current netbooks is that among the hundred different models available from various vendors, almost all of them pack similar components. What it comes down to most is storage size, the battery and also whether or not useful accessories are included. With regard to that last point, aside from a cool little felt protection case, nothing else is included (aside from the recovery CD and manuals).
When Intel launched their N280 Atom, netbook vendors jumped on them fast, even though the speed boost over the previously-popular N270 (1.66GHz vs. 1.60GHz) is rather minor. On all current Eee PC products, ASUS automatically overclocks the processor just a wee bit to offer even better performance. In this case, the CPU tops out at 1.70GHz (a 40MHz boost). The real-world difference would be unbelievably small, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.
Also like the vast majority of other netbooks, the 1008HA includes 1GB of RAM, which cannot be upgraded (that perk is left to the 1005HA). For storage, ASUS has packed in a Seagate Momentus 160 GB drive, with a rotational speed of 5400 RPM. For additional storage, ASUS also offers their “Eee Storage” service to new owners, which totals 10GB. I’ll touch up more on that in a moment.
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (Seashell)
Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz
Intel Mobile 945 Express
Intel GMA 950
10.1" LED Backlight WSVGA (1024×600)
Samsung 1GB DDR2-667 5-5-5-15
160 GB, 5400 RPM, 8MB Cache, S-ATA 3.0GB/s
10 GB Eee Storage (Online)
Realtek ALC269 (Intel 82801GBM)
Atheros AR8132 PCI-E NIC
Atheros AR9285 WiFi (a/b/g/n)
Weight: 2.42 lbs (1.1 kg)
Dimensions: 18mm~25.7mm (H) x 262mm (W) x 178mm (D)
Battery: 3-Cell Lithium Ion (~6 hours)
1.3 Megapixel Webcam
2x USB, 1x mini VGA, 1x Memory Card (SD/MMC)
1 Year Parts and Labor Warranty
Windows XP Home Edition 32-bit
For now, the maximum-supported resolution for 10″ netbooks continues to be 1024×600, and the 1008HA reflects that. You can change that to 1024×768 if you like, but the height will exceed the display, so you’ll have to mouse up and down to explore the entire desktop. It’s not too convenient, so the only time it ever becomes useful is if you’re using an application which loads a dialog box that gets cut off by the restrictive 600px height.
Below is a shot of the stock 1008HA desktop, leaving no doubts that this is the “Seashell” model. ASUS includes multiple Seashell-inspired wallpapers, but all are similar, and no, it’s not a real photograph, but rather a superb Photoshop job.
Here you can get an idea of what “bloatware” is pre-installed, although to be honest, there’s very little. Commercial software that’s included comes in the form of trials, for Office 2007 and also Norton Internet Security. The former application is pre-installed, but the user has to use the icon on the desktop to go ahead with the Norton install (thank you ASUS!). Aside from those, free applications include Skype, Eee Storage and Microsoft Works.
One feature ASUS has been touting for a while with their Eee PC line-up the online storage feature, so I figured since this is the first Eee PC I’ve touched with the support included, I’d give it a shot. At first, I assumed the service would be a simple drag+drop ordeal where you could later obtain files you’ve uploaded at another location or on another PC, but there’s a lot more than immediately meets the eye.
In gist, the Eee Storage feature is designed to offer users a safe place to store certain files, and also use for backing-up important folders automatically. As you can see in the below screenshot, clicking on the “Eee Storage” icon on the desktop shows various folders and options, as well as tutorials. Once you sign up for an account (first two years are free), you’re able to simply use these like regular folders. Once a file or folder is dropped in this folder, the upload process will take place seamlessly – it looks like a regular Windows’ copy process (although with obvious latencies).
Once signed up and signed-in (on both the site and the Eee PC itself), you can then use the Eee Storage website to further handle the files, download them to other PCs or even send friends URLs to share what you have. The front page to the site once signed in is rather informative. It first tells you when your account was started, and also when it expires (of course there’s an option to upgrade or renew the subscription).
In addition, it also tells you whether or not you’ve set up your Eee PC for automatic backup and also how much space you’re currently using on the service (split nicely into categories so you can really understand what’s going on). Want to find a specific file you’ve uploaded, fast? The search box up top takes care of that, and in my experience, it works well.
If you’re not on your Eee PC, or would rather use the Internet to browse your files, it couldn’t be any easier. At the top of the Eee Storage page, you can click the little folder icon and it will load the view you see below. You simply click on “Eee Internet Storage” and browse your folders until you find the folder or file you need. If you want to share the entire folder or file with someone, you can click the “Share” icon and a link will be generated.
Files or folders you link to the the share feature are not private to any degree. If you make one available and provide a URL to your friends, absolutely anyone with that URL can access the data, so be careful. If you no longer want to share a particular file or folder, you can simply deactivate it. Friends you share with do not also need an Eee Storage account, so no login on their end is required, making the entire process extremely simple.
One important feature of this online storage would have to be the backup feature, though. With the Eee Storage software, you can select the backup to occur automatically (it will automatically upload new or updated files whenever the Internet connection has no load), and you can also choose specific folders for it to keep an eye on. Once you set this up, the process happens automatically and you don’t have to worry about a thing. It’s actually extremely useful, because if you’re not on your Eee PC but need a file on it, it’s likely to be available on your Eee Storage, as long as that folder is in the backup software’s sights.
ASUS isn’t known for their robust software, but they really went the extra mile with their Eee Storage. Not only does the feature work as intended and also happens to be feature-robust, the Eee Storage website looks fantastic, with clean lines and smooth colors. It’s also a cinch to use. If you have an Eee PC and aren’t using this feature, you’re really missing out. If there’s only one thing to make sure of, though, it’s that you keep NO sensitive data in your backup folder, because you do not want that to wind up on the Internet, even if it’s in a protected environment like this. It’s best to back up such data yourself to a separate storage device.