Manufacturer: Asus UK Price (as reviewed): £329 .00 (inc. VAT) MSRP US Price (as reviewed): TBC
Let's assume you've been sat under a rock for the last year and you've completely missed out on the Eee PC hype. We'll start from the top.
Launched at the end of last year, the Eee PC was designed to be the messiah of the portable computing audience, measuring in at roughly 225x165x35 (DxWxH) and weighing less than 1kg. It was also low-power to make the battery last longer, housing only an underclocked 900MHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM – both powerful enough to run a custom OS based on the Xandros Linux distro.
The Linux-based OS was arguably the jewel in the Eee's crown too. It was customised to be sleek and simple for those who were new to this whole 'computer' lark, while also allowing advanced users a fair bit of room via the Linux terminal. More importantly though it also allowed Asus to shave the cost down considerably by cutting out Windows – and if the OS didn't do it for you then the price definitely did. I bought my own Eee 4G for just under £250.
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If you're thinking that the hardware spec is too low-end to be at all interesting though then I'm afraid you've already missed the point. The Eee PC isn't like most other laptops – it isn't meant for portable gaming or for image work. Nor is this really a general purpose laptop suited to being a desktop replacement – it's more of a mobile Internet device, suited for when you're out and about and needing to get some basic office work done.
True, this may seem like a bit of a niche market at first, but the fact that the Eee has taken off so massively and become pretty much the must-have gadget of this year just shows how huge that niche is.
Of course, as with all things, the Eee 700 did have its fair share of problems – a tiny screen being the most obvious of all the errors though it definitely wasn’t the most limiting. The paltry 512MB of RAM was often cited as a put-off point by those looking to buy an Eee and the feature-limited spec resulted in an awful lot of mods and tweaks to the system architecture.
The Eee PC practically fits inside Tim's ThinkPad
Asus is a canny devil though and, recognising the huge success it could have on its hands with the Eee PC line started working on the next model. Just as every semi-decent MMORPG released is now called a WoW-killer because of the massive brand recognition Blizzard has achieved, so too is every upstart UMPC now being touted as an Eee-Killer – that’s the kind of brand awareness that Asus doesn’t want to lose hold of.
So, Asus has now unveiled the new Eee model; the Eee PC 900. It should be hitting shelves around the start of May 2008 and boasts a few essential upgrades over the original model. The question is though, has Asus done enough to make the new Eee an attractive option to consumers, or is it just a minimal upgrade over the Eee PC 700?
More personally and importantly, as an Eee owner myself, is the Eee 900 a big enough step forward to make current Eee owners want to trade in for a newer model?