I recently mentioned my plan to get the new Eee PC laptop from Asus in spite of a price hike just before the product was introduced. The Eee PC is basically a low-cost subnotebook intended for developing markets, like the One Laptop Per Child project's XO, which I've also written about here--but unlike the OLPC, the Eee PC will be regularly available in commercial channels.
Well, earlier this week, I found the gizmo for sale over on Newegg.com and placed my order. A mere $458.45 later, including California sales tax and two-day shipping, it was on the way, and it arrived Friday. Here are some initial impressions; I'll post again soon after I've had some time to play with it.
The model offered by Newegg for $399.99 is the high-end configuration in the Eee PC family, at least for the moment. It comes with a 4GB solid-state (flash) disk drive, 512MB of RAM, a 38 watt-hour battery, and a built-in webcam. Cheaper models offer smaller batteries, no webcam, and smaller amounts of flash and RAM for $299 or $349-- but not at NewEgg; they only have the most expensive model. (Also unavailable is a model with an 8GB disk.)
All models share a 900 MHz Intel Celeron M processor (reportedly the ULV model 353) and a 7", 800x480-pixel LCD driven by an Intel integrated-graphics chipset. The Celeron processor isn't very fast, and it consumes more power than I expected-- much more than you really want to see in a tiny machine like this; the bottom of the Eee PC gets quite hot while playing Web videos.
But I found out tonight that the Eee PC could play this one car video that gave my Mac fits every time I tried it. I won't link to the video here because it, or the page it's on, crashed both Safari and Firefox under Mac OS X as well as Internet Explorer and Firefox under Windows Vista running in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine. This was the first time I've ever seen that happen.
But I had the Eee PC within arm's reach, so I hooked it up to my home network, typed in the URL off my Mac's screen, and the video came right up. It was a little choppy, but watchable. Score one for Asus, I guess.
Anyway, please stay tuned for a more detailed review soon. CNET has published a formal review (here), so I'll be focusing on the more esoteric elements of the product.