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Asus Seashell review: Eee PC 1008HA

Surely not another Asus Eee PC netbook. Sasha explains why this one stands out from the crowd.

The Seashell's relatively high asking price also enables Asus to squeeze in luxuries such as draft-n wireless, Bluetooth 2.1, a 1.3 megapixel webcam and a stereo microphone array. There's a very capable set of speakers tucked away under the front edge which are more than capable of playing back music at a comfortable volume.

And if you're already petrified at the very thought of the 1008HA rolling around in a bag, Asus wisely provides a thin neoprene slipcover in the box. This might not afford a huge amount of protection, but it does at least allow you to shove the Seashell in a bag without worrying about it getting scratched to pieces.

From the first moment you clap eyes on it, it's quite clear that the Eee PC 1008HA is an altogether classier beast than most of its predecessors. It looks gorgeous, feels great in use and, despite the captive battery, turns in a respectable performance away from the mains.

But there are also some pretty big issues. First is over the non-removable battery: will it be possible to send the 1008HA back for a replacement battery once a few years of usage has permanently sapped its reserves? We're currently waiting for Asus to answer this one, though we're not confident of a positive response. And second is the price, which is much higher than our current favourite netbook, the Samsung NC10. That costs a mere 268 inc VAT.

If you don't mind paying a premium for fine design, then the Seashell is a tantalizing prospect. But with the Samsung NC10's successor almost here the competition is hotting up, and fast.

Verdict

Stunning design goes hand in hand with fine usability, but the non-replaceable battery and high price count against it.

Processor: 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 Memory: 1GB 533MHz DDR2 RAM; Storage: 160GB hard disk; Graphics: Intel GMA 950 graphics; Display: 10.2in 1,024 x 600 TFT; Ports: 15-pin mini VGA out; 2 x USB, card reader; Connectivity: 802.11bgn + draft-n WLAN; 10/100 Ethernet; Bluetooth 2.1; 1.3MP webcam; Operating System: Windows XP Home 32-bit; Warranty: 1yr RTB warranty; Dimensions: 262 x 178 x 26mm; Weight: 1.13kg.

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