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Asus to slash retail Eee PC line-up

'Luxury' and 9in models for the chop?

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Asus today confirmed a version of its MacBook Air-like netbook, the 1008HA, with a removable battery will indeed be coming to the UK, part of a scheme to streamline the Eee PC line-up here.

By July, Asus will be offering three key Eee PC netbooks to the general public - all of them 10in models pre-loaded with Windows XP and equipped with 160GB hard drives.

The 1008HA - aka Seashell - went on sale in the UK today, selling out almost immediately, the company said. More units are incoming, Asus' netbook marketing chief, John Swatton, told Register Hardware.

He also confirmed that the 1008HA's chubbier twin, the 1005, will also be arriving in Blighty very shortly. The 1008HA has a built-in lithium-polymer battery that's not designed to be removed by users.

Swatton said the battery comes with a full 12-month collect-and-return warranty - many netbook batteries are warranted only for six months - but admitted that some buyers will want the reassurance that they can swap out power packs themselves.

Enter the 1005, with the ability to do just that - and for around £30 less than the £380 1008HA too.

The new machine marks the death knell for the recently released 1000HE, a machine with a battery life of a whopping nine hours. It's being phased out to make way for the 1005 - once 1000HE stocks have been cleared, in will come the 1005.

Asus' 7in and 9in models - including the still unreleased T91 tablet - will be primarily reserved for sales to schools and other large organisations. That said, we're sure some of them will make it out into consumer-oriented channels.

Come summer, Swatton told us, the UK consumer-oriented Eee PC range will centrally feature the 1008HA, the 1005 and a yet-to-be-announced 1000-series machine alone the lines of the 1000H. This new machine will become Asus' entry level Eee, he said. ®

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