Asus Eee PC 1008HA - 10in Netbook - Specs & Keyboard

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Having chided netbooks in general for the lack of diversity, it's fair to say that Asus delivers more features than most. Okay, so the 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, 1GB RAM and 160GB hard drive won't set hearts aflutter, but at least Asus does deliver Draft-N Wi-Fi - hardly a given even now - as well Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. There's also a 1.3 megapixel webcam that boasts stereo array microphones, rather than just the single mic granted most netbooks. These might be small details, but when there's so little dividing one netbook from another, these small details gain a greater significance.

Of even greater significance, however, is the keyboard and after much trial and error Asus might have finally cracked it with the 1008HA. Even the 1000HE, whose isolation keyboard was a massive improvement over previous efforts, lacked a little depth and feel for our tastes, but the 1008HA garners no such complaints. Instead of an isolation keyboard Asus has used a tile-style one, where the keys are completely flat save for a slight recess between each key. This allows for large and clearly defined keys, but most importantly the depth and positivity that was lacking in the 1000HE.

Asus has also been very clever with the layout, creating a larger right-Shift key by reducing the vertical cursor keys to half-height - keeping them on a single row. This does take a little getting used to, but it's a smart and innovative way of ensuring they don't obstruct day-to-day typing. At this point we should add for our UK readers, who might be fretting, that our sample has a US-spec keyboard, so the half-height Return key will be replaced with a patently superior UK-style key in retail boxes.

As there's precious little space for dedicated shortcut keys there's a large array of secondary functions mapped onto the F1-F12 keys. On F1 there's the 'sleep' shortcut, with F2 and F3 duplicating the wireless radio and touchpad functions. Next is a resolution switch shortcut on F4, with F5 and F6 taken up by brightness controls. F7, meanwhile, turns off the display completely and this is a very useful feature to have if using your netbook as a music player.

F8 is reserved for switching between integrated and external displays, while F10, F11 and F12 keys comprise mute, volume down and volume up respectively. This just leaves F9 which, when in Windows, launches the Task Manager, but at boot-up will launch a quick and easy system restoration tool powered by Symantec Ghost 11.0.

Even the spacebar is called into action, providing a quick way to switch between the three modes (Power Saving, High Performance and Super Performance) of Asus' Super Hybrid Engine power management tool. This helps ensure better battery life by underclocking the CPU when on battery, as well as providing a mooted performance boost by overclocking it when required. For power saving the Hybrid Engine proves pretty useful, though we're less convinced by the optimistically titled 'Super Performance' mode.


May 7, 2009, 8:55 am

What's with the large bulge in the keyboard?


May 7, 2009, 12:11 pm

Unless I missed it in the review, no integrated HSDPA? Not that I am in the market for a Netbook, but I couldn't even consider one without that!


May 7, 2009, 1:58 pm

The 3 things I want from a Netbook (and I am in the market for one!) Good battery life / up to 1366 x 768 pixel resolution / and integrated HSDPA. Thought my wishes were answered by the Acer Aspire One 751 then Pocket-Lint reviewed it... 'it is a nightmare to live with' (be great to see you guys review it though!). So, am now really tempted by 1008HA on portability and looks alone. Still no perfect Netbook out there as far as I can see.

Neil B

May 7, 2009, 3:41 pm

@Robnew & Steve

It has bluetooth, your phone has bluetooth, use your phone as a modem. So long as you don't take the proverbial your telco won't notice. I don't understand why people want HSDPA in there netbook, I already have a contract and a data tariff for my phone, I don't want to have another SIM card and contract for my computer too. Or am I missing the point?


May 7, 2009, 3:52 pm

So, since you didn't mention the chipset, I guess we have to presume it's the 945GSE rather than the GN40 then?

Andy Vandervell

May 7, 2009, 4:12 pm

TheLostSwede - that is correct.

Luan Bach

May 7, 2009, 4:31 pm

Build one with the new low voltage core2 in it and I'll buy one.


May 7, 2009, 4:47 pm

@ Luan Bach - You mean the very same ULV Core 2 CPU that costs 6 times as much as the Atom and draws 4 times as much power? Well sure, that sounds great, but it sure as hell wouldn't be classed as a netbook.


May 7, 2009, 5:35 pm


The thing is that Bluetooth isn't fast enough for full speed HSDPA at 7.2Mbit, although Bluetooth 3.0 might change that.

Luan Bach

May 7, 2009, 6:17 pm


Yup, it's also far faster. I rather like the 1008HA design, not the performance.


May 7, 2009, 8:47 pm

@Swede, not that a 'real-world' HSDPA connection is ever getting you anywhere near 7.2 Mbps... Bluetooth 2.1 EDR should transfer around 2 Mbps, so there's still a potential bottleneck there. Hopefully Bluetooth 3.0 will kill all these annoying dongles and second SIM cards stone dead.


May 7, 2009, 10:05 pm

Does the ram and hd seem upgradable? I want to use a netbook as a desktop with external monitor etc but still waiting for an ion netbook...


May 7, 2009, 10:10 pm

I just don't think I could bring myself to pay £370 for it even if it had gold knobs on.


May 7, 2009, 10:43 pm

@Neil: You have to remember that not all of us have £300 smartphones with built in bluetooth and modem capability. Having built in HSDPA would allow you to stick £10 pay as you go credit on it when going on holiday so you could check on nearby places of interest.


May 8, 2009, 12:03 am

HDMI, HSDPA, some kind of GPU (eg. ION), 720p screen, 2GB RAM, 6 cell battery, Windows 7 ready... £300. SOLD.

You can get a full size dual core 17inch latop for £350 now. How the hell are netbooks the same price?


May 8, 2009, 1:34 pm

Video review?

Geoff Richards

May 8, 2009, 2:00 pm

@Andrew - video review will follow next week.


May 8, 2009, 7:42 pm

@jopey - Thay're small and shiny :) Netbook pricing made more sense when we were still talking <£200.

Also, where did you find a 17 inch dual-core for £350?


May 8, 2009, 8:00 pm

Thanks geoff I can't wait!


May 8, 2009, 11:36 pm

@Chris It was at PCworld "Compaq CQ70-211 Entertainment Laptop" No doubt it's not amazing. But it's still a lot of computer equipment for the money. Netbook's processors, boards, screens, batteries and so on are all meant to be cheaper than full size parts. Plus there's no optical drives. I don't see how they are so expensive, it doesn't add up. You can get a pretty good small laptop for £400. Netbooks should half that much. Hell a Dell studio laptop with a dedicated (good) 256MB GPU starts at just over £400.


May 11, 2009, 3:22 am

If I were to use my phone as a modem via USB, would I get good transfer rates?

This netbook sounds mighty impressive but that pricing is rather prohibitive I'd have to say. If we're inching towards £400 territory, might as well jump up to a notebook.


May 11, 2009, 4:50 am

Sorry about the double post but I've got a few more questions:

1) In general, does getting an SSD for a netbook justify the drop in space/rise in costs? From what I understand, since we can't really tax these machines, the speeds wouldn't make a difference. But what about durability?

2) I'm a big fan of the keyboards on a Macbook/VAIO and was wondering if any other netbooks, sans the 1008HA and 1000HE, offered this sort of keyboard?

3) Worth getting a refurb-ed netbook? I still find the pricing to be far less economical compared to standard laptops.


May 11, 2009, 8:49 am




May 11, 2009, 9:17 pm


Haha :), we know, but it just didn't quite deserve a six.


May 12, 2009, 7:32 am

This is one of only two Eee's that I have liked. Unfortunately the mini-VGA adapter is not acceptable for me as I need easy access to my VGA-out about once or twice per week. Hopefully the Asus T101H has a proper VGA-out and an accessible battery.

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