Asus Eee PC 900 Linux Edition
Bigger screen, bigger disk... but bigger price
Review It's not even a year since Asus first demo'd the machine that would become the Eee PC 701 - aka the Eee PC 4G - and here we are reviewing the second version, the 900.
The 701 was first shown in June 2007 and was launched the following October. It quickly won plaudits for its compact, highly portable size and its low cost. We loved it, but like most Eee users we found the screen to be just too small. The sub-notebook's battery life also left much to be desired.
Asus' Eee PC 900: as elfin as ever
With the 900, Asus has taken this criticism on board and attempted to build a comparably sized machine without the limits of the previous model. Let's see if it's succeeded.
The main, most obvious change is the screen. The 701's 7in display wasn't physically too small, but its 800 x 480 resolution didn't pack in enough pixels. Even in Linux, where dialog boxes can generally be resized, you'd come across windows that were too tall for the display. That was even more common under Windows XP.
The 900's screen is larger in all respects: it's 8.9in across the diagonal and has a native resolution of 1024 x 600. Those extra pixels makes a big difference when it comes to viewing documents - web pages in particular - and the bigger physical area means you don't have to squint when you're aligning cursors in the likes of The Gimp, for example. Photoshopping is much less of a chore this time round.
It's not really that thin - Asus has airbrushed out the underside bulges
The screen's not touch-sensitive, but that's no bad thing in our book. Touch is good for tablet-style systems, but the 900's display doesn't swivel around that way, and we just prefer using a touchpad than reaching up for the screen. That said, the relative weighting of the laptop's screen and keyboard sections means that if Asus ever does implement a touchscreen, you'll be able to use it without fear of pushing your computer over.
Have ASUS signed a contract with the devil?
I wonder whether ASUS has signed a contract with Microsoft to not sell the Linux version for less than the price of the XP version? This would explain why we don't get a 4GB or 12GB Linux version. This means that once again we are paying a Microsoft tax, but this time in hardware that we don't necessarily need. If this is the case, then ASUS really deserve to flop with this one. We do not need the Microsoft middleman involved in the pricing of a Linux laptop. Hey, looks like Microsoft have almost screwed up OLPC project as well. If they're quick and they get their dirty little fingers into all the small-laptop manufacturers pockets, maybe they can still keep their monopoly? But only if we let them.
As a serious amature photog, I can make the case that ANYTHING less than a quad-core, 4 Gigs of RAM, RAID-equipped desktop with dual 24" screens is insufficient for photo and video editing. Really - try it once and you can never go back.
But the average user doesn't have that, and uses various amounts of patience, the hand tool, and zooming to accomplish their tasks. Gets the job done (unless working with high-def video streams in real-time, for which there IS no solution other than what I described above). The 701 and such just demands MORE patience and zooming...OK, not great, but doable certainly.
I can almost guess that you are an American, unused to the mobile society that we have here in the EU (and exists in Asia). When the population uses mass transit as much or more than cars, then portability matters a great deal. The 701 is the perfect machine to take in a small messenger bag (even a manbag) while walking around a city and not even know it is there. You pack it as an accessory, not as a laptop - that is what I see as it's true value.
No, I don't own one - my Toshiba M200 still works for me too well, and I like a tablet form factor sometimes. But if I replaced it, I would definately get the Asus.
For everyone debating the 900, you can view it as Asus already HAS the 700, and is just expanding their model line-up and price points. From a marketing point of view, choice is always good. I would not be surprised to see an upgraded 750 or something in a few months, with a larger screen in the same 700 body perhaps...selling at £240 or so. Maybe with the Atom.
Posting with GO, as it's the least used symbol on the forum and feels discriminated against.
Competing with laptops?
"Indeed, but it's nonsense to suggest these aren't competing with laptops "different horses, different courses" - wtf is this if it isn't a laptop? "craptop" perhaps."
I'd call it a thin client. The original Eee was "mobile access to a real computer located elsewhere". A conventional laptop is a self-sufficient beast. Nice if that's what you want, but as a thin-client it is hugely over-specified and over-priced.
So no, they weren't competing with laptops. However, with the new price tag, they probably are.
Re. Battery Capacity
Anonymous: the review unit was supplied by Asus UK, so hardly a grey import. The battery supplied was 4400mAh, and we have to review the unit on the basis of what it does include, not what it might include.
Not for me............
As a 701 owner I'm really happy with it. There are "tweaks" out there for speeding up the CPU and changing screen resolution. There is no way on the planet i'm stumping up another £110 over the 701 for a 901.
Like a lot of people have said £220 hits a sweet spot for a cheap ultra portable laptop. Its brilliant for the money. At £330 the 901 is up against some serious competition.
I think ASUS has stuffed up. They had the product and pricing structure bang on. The 901 is never going to take off the same way the 701 did.