ASUS Eee PC 1002HA
By Gabriel Torres on January 4, 2009
Eee PC from ASUS is a series of small laptops (called “netbooks” by the manufacturer) coming with an unbeatable price tag, being perfect for users that want an inexpensive, small and light laptop for carrying around and don’t mind having a smaller 10” screen. Today we are going to take an in-depth look at the latest model from this series, called 1002HA, which is based on Intel Atom N270 CPU (1.6 GHz) paired with Intel 945GSE chipset, with 1 GB DDR2 memory, 160 GB SATA HDD, 1.3-megapixel webcam, 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, bluetooth and several other features, coming with Windows XP SP3 pre-installed.
The product comes on an unusual box, as you can see in Figure 1. Laptops usually come inside a plain brown cardboard box (usually with a handle), so we were surprised that ASUS decided to sell this product inside a better-looking box.
In Figure 2 you can what comes inside the box: the computer (inside a very good, beautiful and convenient bag), the very small power supply, manuals and a DVD containing drivers for Windows XP. It is important to note that 1002HA does not have an optical drive, so you will need to copy the drivers from the DVD to a flash drive using another computer. Even though the computer comes already with Windows XP and all drivers correctly installed (plus some other good programs, as we will talk more about later), we think it would be far more practical if the computer came with a pen drive with the drivers inside instead of a DVD-ROM, so you could access the drivers directly from your Eee PC whenever you decide to reinstall the operating system.
As mentioned Eee PC comes inside a very practical bag, so you won’t need to buy a bag to carry it around.
We were really impressed by Eee PC 1002HA reduced size. It measures only 10 25/64” x 7 1/8” (26.4 cm x 18.1 cm) and weights only 2.65 lbs (1.2 Kg). Just to put things into perspective, we have a Sony Vaio VGN-N325E, which is one of the simplest models from Sony (Pentium Dual Core). It measures 14 13/32” x 10 ½” (36.5 cm x 26.6 cm) and weights 6.5 lbs (3 Kg). It is so small and light that if you are a woman you can put the computer inside your purse – depending on the size of your purse, of course. In Figure 4 we compare the size of Eee PC 1002HA with the size of Sony Vaio VGN-N325E, which has the standard size used by mainstream laptops.
We also liked the looks of Eee PC 1002HA. Its top cover is made of aluminum, which gives a very professional and stylish looks to the product.
Let’s explore the external features from Eee PC 1002HA. In Figure 6, you can see the left side of the portable, which has two USB 2.0 ports.
On the right side we can find the audio connectors and one more USB 2.0 port.
On the rear side we have a memory card reader, a VGA output, a Gigabit Ethernet port, the power supply connector and a hole for installing anti-theft devices.
The memory card reader is usually located on the side or on the front of the laptop and many users can ignore this feature because of its odd location. To make things worse Eee PC comes with a dummy memory card inserted to protect the memory card reader and since this dummy is black (the same color of the rear side of the notebook) many people will completely miss this device. This memory card reader supports MMC (MultiMedia Card), SD (Secure Digital), MS (Memory Stick) and MS-PRO (Memory Stick Pro) formats.
On Figures 10 and 11 you can see the laptop opened. It uses a 10” widescreen LCD display with backlight provided by LEDs with a native resolution of 1024 x 600. In order to reduce the size (and price) of the computer the screen was naturally reduced. This small screen should not be a problem to run office-class applications (word processor, spreadsheet, e-mail, web browser, etc) but may be inconvenient for users that need more screen area, like professionally working with photo editing (this kind of user wouldn’t be considering buying this portable anyway).
The 1.3-megapixel webcam is located on top of the screen. It doesn’t have tilting controls, so to adjust its position you need to move the top part of the laptop back and forward. Pay attention because the webcam comes with a transparent plastic film protection covering it, which needs to be removed (Figure 12 was taken with this film still attached to the webcam).
For obvious reasons the keyboard had to be reduced compared to other laptops. But we hadn’t any trouble using it, typing was precise and firm.
Eee PC 1002HA comes with a touchpad, which can be seen in Figure 14. We particularly don’t like this kind of device, because we usually end up doing a “mouse click” by pressing it, which leads to moving or selecting things on the screen that we didn’t want to. The touch pad that is used on Eee PC 1002HA has only one apparent button, with two switches below it (the left and the right buttons, of course). We would prefer to see two separated buttons here.
Of course you can install a mouse to this computer and a good thing about it is that it comes with a Bluetooth antenna, so if you buy a Bluetooth mouse you will be able to connect it to your Eee PC without needing to install a wireless receptor for your mouse. With Bluetooth you can also connect your portable to your cell phone – if it also features this technology, of course – allowing you to easily transfer your phone book or organizer from your laptop to your cell phone and vice-versa.
On Figures 15 and 16 you can see the bottom part from Eee PC 1002HA, where we traditionally have access to at least the hard disk drive and memory compartments.
Eee PC 1002HA has only one DDR2 SO-DIMM memory socket, coming with one 1 GB DDR2-667/PC2-5300 CL5 module manufactured by Apacer installed on it. So if you want to add more memory you will have to buy one DDR2 SO-DIMM module with the total capacity you want to have and replace the module that comes with the product.
On the same compartment where the memory module is located we have the wireless network circuit manufactured by AzureWave (model AW-NE771) installed on a PCI MiniCard slot. This device supports 802.11b (11 Mbps), g (54 Mbps) and n (300 Mbps). The addition of 802.11n capability is really impressive for a product on this price range. Of course in order to achieve this transfer rate you need to have an 802.11n access point (i.e., an 802.11n broadband router).
The hard disk drive that comes with Eee PC 1002HA is a Seagate Momentus 5400.5 (ST9160310AS, 8 MB cache, 5,400 rpm) SATA-300 with 160 GB (real capacity of 149 GB). Since this laptop uses a standard 2.5” SATA drive you can replace it with any 2.5” SATA drive in order to improve capacity or speed (you can even replace the hard drive that comes with the product with an SSD, Solid State Drive).
Eee PC 1002HA does not have any expansion slot (PC Card – a.k.a. PCMCIA – or Express Card), so you can’t add any other device to it, but we think this is a complete product anyway. The only thing that really may bother you is the absence of an optical drive.
Finally we have the battery in Figure 19. The product uses a Lithium-Polymer battery pack rated at 4200 mAh (31 Wh). According to ASUS this laptop can run on batteries for up to five hours, if running on power-saving mode, of course. Speaking of which this laptop has a button where you can choose three different power profiles: “Power Saving,” “High Performance” and “Super Performance.”
Now that we’ve finished exploring all external features from this laptop, let’s take a look inside it.
We completely disassembled this product to see which components it uses inside. You have an overall look at Figures 20 and 21.
As we already mentioned, Eee PC 1002HA is based on Intel Atom N270 CPU and Mobile Intel 945GSE chipset (ICH7-M 82801GBM south bridge). The CPU runs internally at 1.6 GHz, externally at 533 MHz (133 MHz transferring four data per clock cycle), has a 512 KB L2 memory cache and dissipates only 2.5 W.
In Figure 22, you can see the CPU (up) and the north bridge chip (down) after we removed the cooler. See how the north bridge chip is bigger than the CPU!
Audio is produced by the north bridge chip with the aid of a Realtek ALC269 codec. This laptop only provides stereo audio (i.e., 2.0 format) but with high definition, as this codec provides an impressive 98 dB signal-to-noise ratio for both inputs and outputs. There is no SPDIF output and the portable features two microphones inside, physically located on its front part.
The Gigabit Ethernet port is provided by an Atheros AR8113 chip.
The memory card reader function is provided by an Alcor AU6372 chip.
As a user, we liked two things about Eee PC 1002HA off the bat: it’s reduced size and weight and the fact that it comes with Windows XP Home Edition SP3 pre-installed and not Windows Vista, which is a “heavy” operating system that would make this laptop to be slow.
It comes with very useful programs pre-installed: Microsoft Works 9, StarOffice 8, Acrobat Reader, WinDVD and Skype. So you can start using your Eee PC right away. The two only classes of programs we missed was a photo editor and an antivirus. Adding these two programs (in our case we installed Photoshop and Avast!) and the PC was ready to satisfy our needs.
The only real drawback about Eee PC 1002HA is the absence of an optical drive, so we can’t use it as a DVD player. The strange thing about this laptop is that it comes with a DVD player software (WinDVD), which is kind of useless (well, you can still use it to play DVD/MPEG2 files).
We had no problems using it. The keyboard proved to be very good and precise. We were afraid that, because of its reduced size, we would end up pressing the wrong keys, but this didn’t happen. We can feel the keys being pressed, which we think is really important, as we don’t need to waste time double checking if the key was really pressed or not.
The screen is certainly small, but for working only with office-class applications (word processor, spreadsheet, e-mail, web browsing, etc) it works very well. Videos played nicely on its reduced screen, which was a surprise. Of course we didn’t even think of playing games or using professional programs that need a bigger screen area, like Illustrator. If you need a small portable computer to run heavier applications you will probably need to pick a different product.
Since it consumes very low power, it almost didn’t heat, so we could use it for hours on our lap.
If you need a small, light and stylish computer to work on the road, Eee PC 1002HA is certainly a great option, providing an impressive cost/benefit ratio.
ASUS Eee PC 1002HA main features are:
* Researched at Shopping.com on the day we published this First Look article.
ASUS Eee PC 1002HA is a “netbook” (small laptop) targeted to people that will only run office-class applications and like the idea of having a small, light and fully loaded product at a very affordable price. Here is a summary of our impressions about this product.
In summary, we think ASUS Eee PC 1002HA provides a terrific cost/benefit ratio for its target audience.