You know I complain about netbooks being so similar that reviewing one tends to be like reviewing another. However, I really like the netbook segment. I for one am glad to see thin and lightweight machines that sell at such low prices on the market. Netbooks may not be the best thing for the notebook manufacturers, but they have been fantastic for many consumers.
Today I have the Eee 1101HA Seashell netbook on my desk to put through its paces. I still wonder where exactly ASUS came up with the Seashell name for the little rig; it has nothing that reminds me of the ocean. You can't even hear the ocean if you hold it up to your ear.
Still, the Eee 1101HA is a very nice notebook in the new and larger 11.6-inch form factor, offering 99% of the portability of the average netbook with more screen space and a larger keyboard. I for one would be glad to trade a smidgen less portability for more comfort when working on the machine. Read on for all the details.
Specifications, Availability, and Pricing
The ASUS Eee 1101HA is offered in white, blue, pink and black colors. My test unit was black and ran Windows XP Home. My review sample also used the larger of the two available batteries, the 63Wh 6-cell unit.
You can find the Eee 1101HA at many different online and retail stores like Newegg where it sells for $414.99.
Check out the full specifications below.
The ASUS Eee 1101HA
Here you see the top of the notebook as you will always see it, covered with fingerprints and smudges. Such is the cost of a glossy lid.
The bottom of the 1101HA is plain with the battery release and some cooling grates along with an access panel for the RAM.
The right side of the machine has two USB ports, the RJ45 connector, headphone jack and mic jack. The memory card reader is also on this side.
There is nothing to see on the back of the machine but the rather bulbous 6-cell battery droppin' low.
The left side of the netbook has the VGA out, a USB port and the Kensington lock port. The left side also hides the smallest AC adapter port I have ever seen; it's even smaller than the headphone jack is.
There is nothing at all to see on the front edge of the netbook.
The keyboard on the 1101HA is massive by netbook standards with keys where they should be and a tiny right shift key.
My good friend Mr. Glossy screen is back with his pal Glarry Glareington.
You can see just how svelte the 1101HA is in the profile shot. The thing is no Dell Adamo XPS, but it is certainly thin enough for most of us.
Benchmarks - Battery Life, Audio & Video Encoding
Now I am going to do my typical selection of netbook benchmarks consisting of Battery Eater Pro, iTunes encoding and movie encoding. No gaming tests on this machine; if you are a gamer, shop elsewhere.
Battery Eater Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.70
Developer Homepage: http://batteryeater.com/development.html
Product Homepage: http://batteryeater.com
Battery Eater Pro really does eat batteries. This test puts much more strain on the battery than you are likely to do, so as always, your mileage may vary.
The Eee 1101HA put in a good showing for battery life besting the former category leader by a whopping nine minutes in power mode with 100% screen brightness and no power saving features turned on. Check out the chart below for all of the details.
Version and / or Patch Used: 18.104.22.168
Developer Homepage: http://www.apple.com
Product Homepage: http://www.apple.com/itunes
As always with the iTunes encoding test, I take an MP3 version of the Stone Temple Pilots album Core and encode it to AAC using iTunes and time the process with a stopwatch. The 1101HA did very well on this test with only one netbook doing better. Check the chart below for all the details
Version and / or Patch Used: 9
Developer Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com
Product Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx
My movie encoding test uses Windows Media Encoder to turn the HD Magic of Flight movie from Microsoft into a DVD quality movie with CD sound for download. The 1101HA was the fastest netbook I have tested in this benchmark. Check the chart below for all of the results.
Hands on Use
After the benchmarking was all finished, I sat the Eee 1101HA on my desk and went about my day using the machine as I would any computer I owned. The Eee 1101HA looks huge next to my MSI Wind U100 10.1-inch netbook that I normally use. The extra 1.5-inches of screen space are very welcome and the keys on the keyboard of the Eee are noticeably larger.
The keyboard on the 1101HA is very good overall with well-sized keys and good typing feel. The keys are slightly clicky when pressed. The only issue I had with the keyboard is that ASUS decided to use a small right shift key. I am a habitual right shift key spammer to the point that I never use the left shift key. The small right shift key was a bother for sure at about half the size of the left shift key. I could get used to the smaller size, but I would rather see ASUS move the up arrow somewhere else and give me a full size shift key instead. I rarely ever use the arrow keys.
The 11.6-inch screen supports 720p HD resolution, which means you can watch HD quality streaming content from Hulu and other sources. The screen is very good for media consumption with good colors, nice black levels and good skin tones. The glossy nature of the screen means that you will have to contend with glare, but at least you can see who is walking up behind you without turning around.
Under the keyboard in the center of the palm rest is the track pad. The larger keyboard means that there is plenty of space for the palms of my hand without hitting the track pad accidentally, which is a big issue for me on my U100. The track pad itself is the same material as the wrist rest and is differentiated by little holes drilled in the track pad area.
I didn't care for the feel of the track pad, it's not as smooth as your typical track pad and using it took more effort than using the average notebook track pad with a smooth plastic top. The large single button under the track pad acts as the right and left click and works just as you'd expect it to.
The sound system is surprisingly full volume for a netbook. You can hear your music in another room if you want. The tiny speakers do the job of playing your music, but they sound flat and have no bass to speak of. Audiophiles won't want to listen to any music on them and your average person will wish the speakers were better. The sound system is average for the netbook class.
If you are happy with the performance and portability that a netbook offers and simply wish you had a bit more screen space and a larger keyboard, the ASUS Eee 1101HA may well be the perfect netbook for you.
Aside from the larger 11.6-inch screen and larger keyboard, the machine offers performance right at the top of the netbook crowd and you won't pay a lot more for that extra screen space or performance either.