While the original Eee PC was extremely popular for being extremely inexpensive and having a diminutive 7” screen size, many complained that the 800x480 screen was too small and the 8GB of hard drive space just too limiting.
Available from May 1st in the UK, Asus will release the first major redesign of the original Eee; the Eee PC 900. It features a larger 8.9” LED backlit screen with a 1024x600 resolution. There’s also the same underclocked Intel Celeron-M ULV 353 CPU (630MHz) and a G945 mobile chipset that features Intel GMA 900 graphics.
It also comes with 1GB DDR2 as standard this time, which is twice that of the original Eee, and between 12 and 20GB of flash storage – 4GB onboard and 8-to-16GB from a separate module. It still weighs less than 1kg but it is fractionally heavier than the previous model. In addition, it features an upgraded 1.3MP webcam, but the same four cell, 2.5 hour battery (although a six cell battery is available) and 802.11b/g WiFi.
Another cool feature is the Macbook Air-esque (I just died inside) multi-touch trackpad, so you can use two fingers to zoom and scroll. While the scroll works in everything, the zoom function is currently limited to Works, StarSuite 8 and Adobe Reader.
There's also a new OS option: Windows XP Home. That will make the extra memory and storage evaporate, although it is now open to a wealth of other software and more immediately familiar to non-Linux users. Included in the package are Microsoft Works, Intervideo DVD XPack and Sun StarSuite (databases, spreadsheet, presentation, illustration and word processing – basically a “slim” Microsoft Office). The problem with the XP version is that despite the larger screen resolution, you still have to scroll up and down the desktop - that's not ideal.
The 20GB Linux model pictured below should retail for £329 in the UK, which is only a modest increase in price considering the advantages. Our resident games expert, Joe, recently spent £250 on an Eee PC and is now regretting it – the extra screen room makes a huge difference and the added storage is a definite boon. The Windows XP version will only ship with 12GB of hard drive space but will retail for the same price. Because of this, we'd absolutely suggest buying the Linux version and then shoehorning XP into the 20GB model.
The model we’re looking at here is one of the first batch available in the UK and uses Linux, as you can probably tell by the lack of the horrible XP default wallpaper. The Eee PC 900 still doesn’t have a firm release date set just yet, though we’ve been told that we can expect it to hit shelves very soon and we certainly couldn’t spot any problems with the model we were looking at – so expect a full review in the near future.