If the keyboard's hard to use because it's small, that goes double for the twee touchpad. A mere 45 x 30mm, it's got a scroll space over on the right-hand side, but that just makes it ever fiddlier to use.
Right-hand side port array
Below the pad are the mouse buttons, both formed from a single, flat piece of plastic. Asus could at least have sculpted the single piece to make it easier to hit the bit of the bar you want. We fould ourselves hitting it too close to the middle, often doing a left-click when we wanted a right one. And pushing the button with one hand while controlling the cursor with the other – to select a block of text, for example - is a recipe for tying your fingers in knots.
We'd suggest you just take a travel mouse with you.
Left-hand side port array
The 701 has three USB ports for this: one on the left side; the others on the right, between the Eee PC's VGA port and its SD/SDHC card slot. The other side is home to 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets, a 10/100Mb/s Ethernet port and – for us – a blocked modem port. The 4GB 701's 5200mAh battery plugs into the back of the machine next to the power port, and there's a microphone located right at the front of the machine, below the mouse button.
A standard desktop is a basic hack away
Turn the Eee PC over and there's a large cover. If you're willing to invalidate your warranty, you can open it up to expose the memory slot - the 701 has a 512MB 400MHz DDR 2 DIMM in place already, but it'll take a 1GB module - and the expansion bay. The latter is presumably where the anticipated 3G connectivity module will go.
Closed, the 701 measures 225 x 165 x 25-35mm, but in real terms that means it's the size of a typical hardback novel. It weighs about the same too, but if you want a more specific figure, it's 890g. In other words, eminently portable, and a perfect size to close up and stash away in your backpack or briefcase when you've finished surfing, writing the latest chapter of your magnum opus or whatever.
Re. DRAM not Flash
The Eee PC's SSD is Flash. The write lifespan issue is overplayed. The drive's likely to last the usable lifetime of the machine.
In any case, it's easy enough with, say, Windows to write temporary files, virtual memory and such to a cheap 4GB SDHC memory card, which is what I've done. That way you (largely) limit writing to the SSD to software installations.
DRAM SSD not flash
A lot of people have commented that the SSD might not be suitable for other OSs as it has limited write life. I was under the impression that this applied to flash based storage rather than the DRAM based storage which most SSD hard disk replacements are. I'm assuming that's the case with the EEE PC - anyone know any different?
@Swap + Flash Usage
"I expect they've simply removed the restore partition that takes up quite a bit of the flash on the 4GB version (it's not really needed anyway, as you can restore the OS from a USB key or external DVD drive anyway)."
It does not have a separate restore partition. The base system which doubles up as the restore partition is mounted read-only, and is merged with the partition holding the user generated files using the magic of UnionFS. Why is it that MS with its self-proclaimed "innovative" prowess haven't come up with something as useful as UnionFS?
nlite XP, USB... and maybe even malware free?
Phil - Can you post that 'config' somewhere? (I have not seen nlite before)
Could the version you created could be run from the SD slot??
And if all writes could be directed to a USB key, then the SD carrying the OS can be write-protected... and therefor safe from modification by malware???
It's not going to take much bulk pricing at Asus, with a bit more harsh commercial realism at MIT, for this little gem to match the price of Negroponte's Dream.
Difficult decision, eh? A small but proper computer, running real operating systems and real applications, or one step up from a V-Tech "My first laptop" toy?