The 900's keys have good movement and there's a solid foundation beneath them so the keyboard doesn't bend in the middle the way it does on so many laptops these days. Extra marks to Asus for this.
The keyboard's larger but just as good
They 900's keyboard may be no larger than the one on the 701, but its touchpad is. And it's now equipped with MacBook Air-style gesture input too. The size - 63 x 36mm to the 701's 45 x 30mm - is the crucial improvement: we found we were no longer constantly reaching for a mouse as we did with the 701. The implementation of two-finger scrolling is very welcome - it's much more practical than the scroll area on the 701's touchpad.
The other gesture uses two fingers brought together or moved apart to zoom in and out of images. It only works with a few apps, such as Adobe Reader and Image Viewer, and it's not very successful. In Image Viewer, magnification goes through large, fixed steps, so lacks precision - you may as well use the regular Magnifying Glass tool. We did - it was quicker.
It was no better in Adobe Reader. The zooming process works, but it's slow and jerky. Again, you're better off using the app's regular magnification tools.
At last, a bigger toucpad
Inside the 900, we now have 1GB of DDR 2 memory fitted rather than 512MB, but it's the same Intel Celeron M CPU as the 701. This time round, it's clocked to 900MHz rather than 630MHz, but Intel's SpeedStep technology means these are just maxima: the clock speed will fall to meet the needs of the CPU's workload at any given time, to help conserve battery power.
The 701's CPU is more than ready for most tasks a machine of this size will be put to, handling even processor-intensive tasks like H.264 video decoding with aplomb. So is the 900. Tax the CPU and the fan will kick in, but less so than we've seen on other UMPCs and sub-notebooks, like the Belinea s.book - reviewed here. The fan's not silent, but we didn't find it intrusive.
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.