Asustek Computer on Saturday unveiled the Eee PC 900, a beefier version of the ultra-mobile PC it introduced late last year. The new unit is available with Xandros Linux or Windows XP, and is scheduled to begin shipping on May 12 with a sticker price of US$549.
Last year’s model 701—which at the time was offered only with Linux—could reportedly be had for $199, but is offered everywhere I’ve seen it for $399 or more. Both models are built around a 900 MHz Intel Celeron M processor and include a 4GB solid-state disk, three USB 2.0 ports and a VGA port. Neither unit offers an optical or magnetic drive. The Linux version of the 900 adds a 16GB flash unit for a total of 20 GB non-volatile storage. The Windows version is outfitted with an 8GB flash unit (12GB total).
The 900 series doubles the DDR2 RAM (to 1GB) and has more pixels than its 700-series predecessor, both in its built-in Web-cam (1.3 MP vs. 0.3 MP) and its backlit LED. The 8.9-inch panel can display 1024 x 600 compared with 800 x 480 of the 7-inch model. Both weigh around two pounds (.92 kg). ASUS claims 3.5 hours of battery life for newer units and two for the older.
You might be thinking that its $549 price tag puts the 900 in league with a number of low-end laptop models (Acer and Dell come to mind). But aside from a smaller screen and lack of optical storage, this diminutive (9 inches x 6.5 inches) unit is really more akin to Sony’s VAIO TZ or Toshiba’s Portege R500, which are priced in the thousands.
Asus was a frequent editor’s choice of the CRN Test Center during the 1990’s for its fast, feature-rich and well documented motherboards—its products were deemed friendly to retailers, VARs and other channel members.