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Asus' propensity for creating an endless stream of different netbooks is well documented and it has been both a blessing and a hindrance. On the one hand it has kept its burgeoning Eee PC brand in the limelight; on the other it has fostered within us an extreme cynicism at the very mention of a new netbook or Eee PC. It's a fact not helped by the largely unchanging hardware, not that Asus' latest offering, the Eee PC 1008HA, improves matters any. As far as hardware goes it's as generic as the next.
With this paucity of hardware options, dividing one netbook from the next can be extraordinarily difficult. Battery life is often the main turning point and it is one area where Asus has been determined to excel, as shown by its last 10in notebook, the Eee PC 1000HE. However, you can only bang the battery life drum for so long before a little variation is required and to its credit Asus has listened, delivering to us the seashell inspired 1008HA.
We say "seashell inspired", but that's just marketing-speak for 'a bit curvy' isn't it? Had Motorola not taken 'pebble' or Acer 'gemstone' then Asus could just as easily used those terms instead. Indeed, being a tad pedantic for a moment, what exactly is seashell-like about the 1008HA anyway? Type 'seashell' into Google Image Search and it doesn't deliver anything that looks remotely like it.
Seashell or not, though, it's plain to see that the Eee PC 1008HA is one good looking netbook. Its wedge shaped chassis measures just 25.7mm at back and just 18mm at the front, making even the slimmest and lightest netbooks currently on the market look and feel positively obese. It's a fact bolstered by the pleasingly low 1.1kg weight. It's easy to gloss over the significance of this, but the difference between 1.1kg and the 1.3 to 1.4kg of most 10in netbooks is striking, making this a netbook that's bit easier to carry around day-to-day.
Beyond its slimness and lack of heft there are lots of little details that make the 1008HA a very attractive piece of kit. Doubtless its glossy black finish will produce a few grumbles for all the usual reasons, but it does look very fetching and if you fancy something a little more colourful then Asus will be selling white, pink, blue and red versions.
Then there are the ports, which are all neatly hidden behind flaps. Though a slight inconvenience this definitely helps keep the machine looking neat and tidy, while Asus has resisted the urge to clutter the inside with too many status lights or buttons, with just the power button on the right, toggle buttons for the wireless radios and the touchpad on the left, and a quartet of status lights neatly integrated into the hinge section.