Asus announces 10in, HDD-equipped Eee PC
But Linux version to cost more than the Windows XP model
Computex Asus has announced the anticipated Intel Atom-based Eee PC - and a pair of new models that, the company claimed, boost battery life to more than seven hours. Oh, and they sport 10in displays, hard drives and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
As expected, the new version of the current 8.9in Eee PC 900 is the 901, while the 10in versions are dubbed the 1000 and 1000H - the former has Linux, the latter Windows XP Home. Both have a keyboard that's only eight per cent smaller than a standard laptop keyboard.
Asus' Eee PC 1000: cheaper with Windows XP
All three models incorporate what Asus is called Super Hybrid Engine technology, which despite sounding like it's a component out of the Toyota Prius is actually an underclocking tool that allows users to "adjust CPU frequency, voltage and LCD brightness to minimise system noise and power consumption to save up to 15 per cent power consumption, or to maximise system performance according to individual needs".
More to the point Asus' spec sheet apparently promises 3.2 hours minimum battery life - thanks, not least, to Asus' decision to ship the machines with a six-cell battery. Previous Eees have come with four-cell power-packs as standard.
Intel's Atom launch indicates all three sub-notebooks will contain 1.6GHz CPUs, backed by up to 2GB of DDR 2 memory for the 1000 and 1000H, and 1GB for the 901. All three gain 802.11n Wi-Fi. The 901 has the same storage capacity as the 900 - 12GB for the XP version, 20GB for the Linux model - but the 1000 will incorporate a 40GB SSD, while the 1000H has an 80GB hard drive.
As per previous Eee PCs, they have the usual array of three USB ports, a VGA connector, SDHC card reader, audio sockets, 10/100Mb/s Ethernet port. Their screens incorporate a 1.3-megapixel webcam too.
Asus expects the 901, 1000 and 1000H to cost NT$16,988, NT$19,988 and NT$18,988, respectively - that's the equivalent of $561/£285, $660/£335 and $627/£319, though clearly that's before import duty and sales tax are added over here.
You'll note that the Linux model is more expensive, but that's undoubtedly a result of all that solid-state storage and its cost relative to hard disks.
The 901 and WiMax dongle
Demo'd at the Computex show in Taipei today, the Eee PCs were accompanied by a "concept sample" with integrated HSPDA, and a 901 with WiMax. Well, sort of - the machine was actually attached to Asus' bulky WUSB25E2V2 WiMax USB dongle.
Resourcing for Windows
You just have to see x86 on the spec sheet to know that they are targetting Windows. Same with OLPC. As soon as that had x86 in it, then it was obvious that a Windows sell out would happen.
Linux runs fine on ARM. In fact there are more ARM Linux systems than x86 Linux systems (I'm counting phones as "systems" and for every Linux server there are ten or more Linux phones). From a technical point of view, ARM is the only sane choice for a Linux mini notebook. ARM-based systems use less battery power, are smaller, lighter and cheaper. All the attributes you want in a low cost sub notebook.
Anyone remember the Psion 7? That was a cute wee mini notebook that ran pretty well on a 100MHz ARM. The modern 600+MHz ARM parts would give it a lot more grunt.
Sub notebooks in the sun???
The Asus ad portrays the user on the beach. If only one could. Can you see the screen and text to work in bright sunlight? With any of these small notebooks? Answers please.
Why HDD ...
Because that makes more sense for a Windows install which by its nature will hammer the disk whatever form it's in.
There are ways round that - XP Embedded, EWF - but this is the easiest option.
The entire point of the original eeePC was to make a cheap and portable system that does not rely on a slow, power hungry and liable to knocks and bumps HDD PC. So that model is off my list for starters. We don't need HUGE amounts of space for this. Just a bigger screen! This would run fine on 8GB or less. I was looking forward to a version with similar specs to the 701 and a bigger screen with only a slight increase in the pricetag.
Coat because this seems all about cashing in rather than innovation.
Almost certainly. The real, non-conspiracy reason why the Linux box costs more is that they've managed to source 40Gb SSDs for only a little more than the cost of a Windows XP licence + 80Gb HDD. If you've got an XP licence lying around you'll be able to install it on the Linux model.