According to the bundled Diagnostic Tools utility, the 900 comes with just 4GB of storage, partitioned into 2.3GB and 1.5GB spaces, allowing for the formatting overhead. Fortunately, the Disk Utility app reveals the missing 16GB out of the 20GB the Linux-installed 900 comes with. We'd have preferred a single, flat storage space, or at least two partitions rather than three, and we suspect most computer and/or Linux novices will too.
Now with 20GB of solid-state storage
There are two SSDs in the 900: the 4GB unit in the same place it's to be found in the 701. The 16GB unit is to be found in the expansion bay, accessed through the hatch in the base of the Eee. So if you're looking forward to Asus' promised 3G modem add-in, it's not going to fit into the 900's Mini PC slot unless you remove the 16GB SSD first.
And why not? Do we really need all that space? Saying so makes us feel like Bill Gates stating that 640KB is all the memory a PC will ever need, but the Eee ethos isn't about carrying vast quantities of data around with you. Heck, the 4GB model has room for Windows, Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Fox Reader (a PDF viewer) and the IM app Pidgin, maybe with an SDHC card for data.
Still, it does mean there's more room for the files you do want to have with you at all times and frees up the memory card slot. There's now room for a heap of snaps if you're a photographer using the Eee to log pictures on a shoot. Buyers worried about Flash storage write longevity now have plenty of extra cells to take the strain when others fail. Not that this is really an issue with Flash any longer.
It's not all wall-to-wall improvements. Asus missed an opportunity to improve the 900's Linux GUI. There are plenty of customisation tools now available for tweaking the user interface, and Asus should have included at least one of them. Not everyone wants to pop into the command line and hack configuration files manually.
However, the Linux bundle remains solid, with all the key communications, productivity and media tools you need. A more recent version Skype is included, with webcam support. As before, if you need Windows apps - not all hardware add-ons are supported by Linux - you can install Windows XP easily. Or just buy the 900 Windows Edition.
Back to Linux: why does the 900's battery readout still not show how much charge is present when you're on mains? We like to know where the charging process has got to without having to yank the power cable.
And so on to the battery itself. We get around three-and-a-bit hours out of the 701's 5200mAh battery, and with the 900's higher-clocked CPU we were worried about the new machine's runtime. Then we looked at the power pack that came with the 900 and found it was only rated at 4400mAh - 15 per cent less than the capacity of the 701's battery.
Battery life was our only serious disappointment with the 701, and it remains the 900's chief fault. We ran our usual test: loop a standard-definition H.264 video until the battery dies. The volume was set to 50 per cent, the LED backlight brightness to 100 per cent and the wireless on and associated with an access point.
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.