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June 08, 2007

The $199 Laptop from Asus I want NOW


The $199 Asus EEE 701 laptop may just give the OLPC's XO a run for it's money.  Set to be available in August, the EEE reportedly will run Windows XP or Linux and has handy features like Wi-Fi and a webcam right above the screen like a MacBook.  I also read that the EEE will have a built-in SD card reader, but I haven't been able to verify this.  Honestly, the EEE is pretty much the device I've been waiting for: an inexpensive laptop for web browsing and blogging.  Here's the spec list from Asus:

CPU & Chipset: Intel mobile CPU & chipset
OS: Linux/ Microsoft Windows XP compatible
Communication: 10/100 Mbps Ethernet; 56K modem
WLAN: WiFi 802.11b/g
Graphic: Intel UMA
Memory: 512MB, DDR2-400
Storage: 4/ 8/ 16GB Flash
Webcam: 300K pixel video camera
Audio: Hi-Definition Audio CODEC; Built-in stereo speaker; Built-in microphone
Battery Life: 3hrs (4 cells: 5200mAh, 2S2P)
Dimension & Weight: 8.85 x 6.5 x .82~1.3 in, 2lbs

It's amazing how just by making a laptop lightweight and cheap adds to
usefulness and versatility of a laptop.  Read on to understand what I mean.

My laptop is my only computer, I swore off desktops a long time ago and I'm not looking back.  At about 5.5 lbs my laptop is on the light side for a model with a 14.1" SXGA+ screen, but it's still not as mobile as I'd like.  I rarely, for instance, bring my laptop to the kitchen table and read the news while I eat breakfast, or hang out with my laptop on the couch while watching a DVD that doesn't require my full attention.  I don't bring my laptop into the kitchen to look up a recipe and I'd never toss my laptop in the glove compartment of my car while running errands on the off chance I may want to take some notes for a blog entry or need to look up directions or movie times.  But I could imagine doing all those things, and a lot more, with a 2lbs $199 laptop.

While I do a good job of backing up my stuff (thanks SyncToy), it would still be a royal pain if something happened to my laptop.  Mostly because  I'd have to drop $1000-$1500 for a new one, and then work on restoring it to get back to where I left off.  That makes me not so eager to take my laptop with me unless I really need it for something.  But with a $200 laptop, I'd be much more willing to drag it around with me and without a second thought.

I'm really curious to see if XP or Linux runs better on it.  I'd imagine the clock speed to be somewhere in the 500Mhz range, which might be a little paltry for XP.  And it wouldn't surprise me at all if someone coaxes an EEE into running OS X. 

Asus, or someone (Apple?), should make a device like this with a touchscreen, and a dockable external keyboard.  Because just as the small size and cheap price adds to the usefulness, being able to use a portable computer in not the standard laptop position would be another dramatic improvement
.  I'd love a laptop I could hold as comfortably as my sketchbook, for instance.

Asus EEE Announcement
Asus EEE Press Release


let's buy this for each other! oh, how long does the battery last?

3 hours doofus, read...

I think it is a great idea, I would buy two for myself for sure, Keep one in the bedroom next to my radios for logging QRLs & other ham radio related things, and one in the garage for automotive maintenance records. And later on when Christmas gets close I would buy three more to give away as gifts.

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