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ASUS Eee PC 900  (Source: ASUS)
ASUS to offer new options with the Eee PC 900

Last week, official details began to trickle out concerning ASUS' new Eee PC 900 sub-notebook. Today, ASUS’s CEO opened the floodgates when it comes to specifications for its second generation Eee PC notebook.

As previously reported, the new Eee PC 900 features a new 8.9” 1024x600 display in place of the 800x480 display found on the original Eee PC 401. The larger screen with a higher resolution should help to silence some of the more vocal critics who bemoaned the needs to constantly scroll horizontally and vertically to read webpages.

Another change with the new Eee PC 900 comes in the area of storage. The original Eee PC first was made available with 4GB of storage. As the months progressed, ASUS released 2GB and 8GB models to occupy lower and higher price points respectively.

ASUS CEO Jerry Shen revealed to Laptop Magazine that the Eee PC 900 will be available in an 8GB version with Windows XP while versions running Xandros Linux will be available in 12GB or 20GB capacities. ASUS will also provide users with the options of using traditional HDDs in the future. “In June and April we will only support solid-state drives,” said Shen. “Hard drives will be options at a later date.”

ASUS will also make some changes on the processor front with the Eee PC 900. It appears that early versions of the Eee PC 900 will continue to use the 900MHz Intel Celeron M processor. However, ASUS will be moving to Intel’s Atom processors shortly after launch.

“From my view point, Diamondville is the better choice, because it uses the 45 nanometer processor. And price-wise it is very competitive. In my planning I will continue to use Intel’s Diamondville,” added Shen. “And for the VIA one I think from the power point of view, Diamondville is still better. In May, these machines will be hitting the market.”

When it comes to power, ASUS is looking to change things a bit. The company plans to introduce a new power adapter that will be smaller than the already tiny one included on the first generation Eee PC. The new power adapter will dramatically reduce the charging time of the device and will be available on both 7” and 8.9” models.

ASUS will also boost the battery life with the introduction of Intel Atom processors. Intel's Celeron M -- currently used in the Eee PC and early Eee PC 900 models -- doesn't employ any real power-saving measures like SpeedStep. As a result, battery life hovers around the 2.5 hour to 3.5 hour range. The introduction of Intel's Atom processors should greatly improve battery life on the Eee PC 900. "In the near future, we also are trying to support one-day computing which would provide more than 8 hours. I think in May we might be closer to providing that," continued Shen.

Users will be glad to learn that ASUS kept all of the external ports that were found on the original Eee PC -- that means that three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 NIC, VGA port, headphone/microphone jacks and SD/SDHC media reader litter the exterior of the device. ASUS also wisely upgraded the integrated webcam from 0.3MP to 1.3MP. Shen also noted that built-in WiMAX and HSDPA options will be available during Q3.

ASUS plans to continue offering the second generation Eee PC in a variety of colors. The current version is available in white, black, blue, green, and pink. Future color choices “will really reflect the New York City and London city style” according to Shen.

ASUS’ CEO went on to add that the new Eee PC will start at roughly $499 when it launches this April in the U.S. For more information, you can check out the full interview with Laptop Magazine here.

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By LeftSide on 3/9/2008 8:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
I think they are really hitting a sweet spot with these Eee Pcs, but if they make them any bigger they are going to move right into laptop competition.

RE: Nice
By JoshuaBuss on 3/9/2008 8:37:46 PM , Rating: 1
it's arguably as important that they keep the price low too.

i think $500 for an EEE with all the upgrades mentioned (higher res, wimax, 8 hour battery life) is quite a deal though and until HP releases its 2133 there's really nothing to compete with that.

RE: Nice
By FliGuyRyan on 3/9/2008 8:44:51 PM , Rating: 2
The eight hour battery life alone would be a seller to me. To be able to download photos from a shoot and show them to the customer would be phenomenal. Granted, it's not a 17 inch screen, so people would still complain (and compare no doubt) but the "sweet spot" as mentioned above is definitely being hit.

Also... I think students (who live in dorms primarily) would find this attractive for the nightly coffee-shop run.

It's like the Palm Pilot I've always wanted...

RE: Nice
By Hydrofirex on 3/9/2008 10:15:19 PM , Rating: 2
'In the near future, we also are trying to support one-day computing which would provide more than 8 hours. I think in May we might be closer to providing that.'

Doesn't sound like it's going to be that close to 8 hours to me. However, I'd imagine when carbon nanotubes and other next-gen battery techs fall into place this will be easily accomplished.


RE: Nice
By feelingshorter on 3/9/2008 10:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
They have Sony 12 inch laptops at around 3 lbs that can play a dvd for 6 hours. So i don't see why using a text editor in Linux cannot achieve that just to type up class notes?

RE: Nice
By BladeVenom on 3/10/2008 1:29:12 AM , Rating: 2
Check out some of the Panasonic laptops. Several models have a much longer battery life than that.

RE: Nice
By jconan on 3/10/2008 7:01:01 AM , Rating: 2
However in Asus's case it's the battery supply issue that's limiting the e3 pc shipments. full article on interview with the ASUS CEO interview

RE: Nice
By jconan on 3/10/2008 9:16:18 AM , Rating: 2
laptopmag interviews asus ceo on e3 pc

RE: Nice
By plewis00 on 3/10/2008 3:16:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the CF-18 Toughbook tablet computer I was getting a good 6 hours from and the latest CF-30 (13" screen) model has a massive 91Whr battery getting almost 8 hours on a dual-core machine. So these are big laptops but I do think there's a lot to be said from manufacturers not necessarily increasing the battery size but rather reducing the power consumption as with this Asus one.

In fairness a lot of power-saving can be made yourself by using something like RMClock, even standard Core Duo chips (i.e. not LV or ULVs) tend to be happy running at voltages as low as 1.0V at full crank.

RE: Nice
By akugami on 3/10/2008 4:17:51 AM , Rating: 5
Yes well, I am not paying the Sony Bendover Markup (tm). I will pay a premium for certain products/brands but Sony is not one of them.

RE: Nice
By mmntech on 3/10/2008 11:51:18 AM , Rating: 2
Apple as well. The originals had very short average battery lives so if they can get up to 8hrs, I'd buy it. Lithium-polymer batteries today in parallel can easily boost battery capacity without adding a lot of weight or taking up a lot of space.
I also like the increased HDD space and better resolution. Asus has pretty much solved all my gripes with the original Eee PC. All they need to do is keep the price down because people will sacrifice portability for lower cost, particularly at markets this is targeted for. (ie Business people and students)

RE: Nice
By imperator3733 on 3/9/2008 9:48:54 PM , Rating: 3
if they make them any bigger they are going to move right into laptop competition.

I thought there was something in an earlier DT article about these EEEs being the same size physically with the larger screen taking up the space where the speakers used to be.

RE: Nice
By jtesoro on 3/9/2008 10:56:31 PM , Rating: 3
As long as they keep a breadth of bare systems and more capable systems I don't mind. They're expanding the range but starting from a low price point. The UMPCs are starting from high price points and going nowhere. Thank you Asus.

getting expensive
By Gul Westfale on 3/10/2008 12:28:37 AM , Rating: 2
what kept me from getting the original EEE were its small screen and its small hard drive; what will keep me from buying this version is the price. for $500 you can get a "real" laptop... no gaming machine, for sure, but a trip to the local PC store showed that a low-end machine with a 15" widescreen can be had for $500 to $650. sure a full laptop is heavier, but it also offers way more storage, a larger screen, and better performance.

i think the original idea behind the EEE was to provide people with an inexpensive webmachine, and the new model seems to be moving away from that. they should have focused on reducing the price before making other changes... what about diamondville in the current 7" incher? together with a conventional 1.8" HDD that might reduce the cost of the 8GB model by maybe $30-$40. that seems more logical to me than trying to move upmarket and compete with full-sized laptops.

one question for owners of the 8GB model: wikipedia states that the hard drive in the current 8GB model is not a soldered-on flash chip, but a removable (and thus upgradeable) flash card. any info on what type of card that might be (SDHC, compactflash)?

RE: getting expensive
By nomagic on 3/10/2008 1:59:34 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think they are trying to move upmarket or compete with full-sized laptops. Also, the "you can get a real laptop" argument is getting old. They are just charging premiums to those who can afford the more feature-rich models. There is a distinct difference.

I agree that they can and should make Eee PCs cheaper. However, despite the high prices, the new models will still sell like hot cakes. How to make more of these Eee PCs is currently more important than how to make them cheaper.

We will probably never see competitively priced Eee PCs until they have some real competition.

RE: getting expensive
By Gul Westfale on 3/10/2008 2:23:44 AM , Rating: 2
*waits for the VIA nanobook*

btw, i googled upgrading the hard drive and found a site where a guy details soldering a flashdrive to the motherboards' USB leads... all on the inside of the PC. kinda pointless since sticking in an SDHC card gets you the same result, but i still found it interesting.

RE: getting expensive
By ineedaname on 3/10/2008 5:46:46 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with nomagic. The fact is that this is just not the same as a full sized laptop and can't be compared in the same way. If you go check out 15" laptops and compare them to 11" - 12" laptops with the same specs you will see a price jump. People want it so that they can easily carry their computer in one hand yet have a decent size monitor. This 8.9" is a sweet spot. Not everyone will agree with this but the fact is that the majority of people will pay for the size. Just look at macbook air.

If you think the hard drive is small then I think you've misunderstood what this laptop was intended for. It was intended for a person on the go to take notes access email and surf the web. It wasn't meant to replace your home computer where you put the majority of your files. The hdd is meant to be rugged and use low power. If you need drive space u can just use the SDHC slot since u can probably find 64gb SD cards for cheap soon.

With Intel Atom the specs should be more comparable to a regular laptop now. Atom even comes in dual core. The TDP of Atom is about 4-8watt and below 1watt for diamondville. That is from about 20-26watt on Celeron M which should greatly increase battery life.

For the price there really isn't anything quite like this new EEEPC. If you go check out UMPC's in general they can easily go for over 1k.

RE: getting expensive
By ineedaname on 3/10/2008 5:57:03 AM , Rating: 2
Er my bad got mixed up between Diamondville and Silverthorn Silverthorn is sub 1watt while Diamond is 4-8.

Also the Celeron M in the original eepc is a 5watt version. So it doesn't seem that the cpu will help increase battery life that drastically. Although the newer cpu has speedstep and probably has some deep sleep power stages.

RE: getting expensive
By IntelUser2000 on 3/10/2008 8:10:14 AM , Rating: 2
Diamondville doesn't feature SpeedStep which is why the TDP is much higher. Silverthorne will come in 0.6W to 2.5W variants. They obtained the feature using a synthetic power virus code(code designed to maximize the power consumption of a CPU), so I guess you can say the TDP represents the max power.

RE: getting expensive
By falacy on 3/10/2008 1:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. In a way I feel bad for VIA too, as they do have a nice system for a basic computer.

What I am waiting for is an EEE with the 1024x800 screen with a 2GB SSD and 1GB RAM and LONG BATTERY LIFE!

I'll happily use Linux on it and give it to my daughter. With an 8GB SDHC card, it's perfectly fine for eveything I do on my 15.4" laptop (apart from playing WoW) and I am sure my daughter will really enjoy it too. Given that it's for a child, cheaper is better, so I hope they keep offering a basic model based on the newwest technology.

RE: getting expensive
By Oregonian2 on 3/10/2008 9:22:05 PM , Rating: 2
i think the original idea behind the EEE was to provide people with an inexpensive webmachine, and the new model seems to be moving away from that.

I strongly disagree with this assessment of it's target -- or at least I'm hoping so.

They're inexpensive ultra-portables that compromise performance for cost. In other words weight,size, and cost are important at the expense of performance. So when comparing against "regular laptops" compare prices against those who weigh the same and are about the same size or smaller.

There's a big reason that people like ultra-portables and there's an even bigger reason that people don't buy them ($$$$). The EEE is a cross between those $$$$ ultra-portables and that laptop with a crank. :-)

500$ ? Oh, i mean 700.
By cokbun on 3/10/2008 12:09:43 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah right.. remember the '' 99$ - 199$ '' eee pc? . The market price for these will be 700 - 900.

RE: 500$ ? Oh, i mean 700.
By JoshuaBuss on 3/10/2008 2:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
you're thinking of the OLPC.

RE: 500$ ? Oh, i mean 700.
By falacy on 3/10/2008 9:29:14 PM , Rating: 3
Atom is a far better choice than Celeron M
By psychobriggsy on 3/10/2008 5:53:00 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, always wondered why they used a crippled Celeron in the original one, quite possibly the worst option for a CPU from a power management point of view.

I'll wait for the Atom one. Also the Atom one may come with the latest chipset (are Intel making these on 45nm too now, so that they're low power?)

So is that 12GB/Linux for $499?
How much for 8GB/Windows? $499 as well, or $549 because of the licence?
20GB/Linux sounds interesting, but will surely be $599 - $699.

By IntelUser2000 on 3/10/2008 7:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
No, Intel chipsets use N-1 generation process for their chipsets or else their fabs won't be fully utilized.

If 65nm(Merom) for CPU, chipsets use the older 90nm(965).

45nm CPU(Penryn)
65nm chipser(4 series chipset)

looks great
By R3MF on 3/10/2008 8:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
a 9" eeepc should be excellent.

This would have done nicely
By FranksAndBeans on 3/10/2008 8:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
If ASUS can keep these at $500 or less with XP and get me reliable battery life over 4 hours, sign me up.

I took a long hard look at the original model a few months back. The screen was just too small and given the form factor 2-2.5 hours of battery life didn't seem sufficient. My eventual laptop replacement runs about 4.5 hours and I've found that to be just about right.

I'm not saying that I'm the consumer ASUS should be aiming to please. Honestly I'm just happy these things are doing fairly well in the market. It's nice to see really portable options not tied to $2,000 prices.

20gb version
By Bigjee on 3/10/2008 2:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
If the 20gb version comes with Linux and 1gb Ram and intel's new Atom cpu, with the upgraded 1.3 mpixel cam this is a step forward. If I can get 8 hours of battery life that would be the icing on the cake however, I am expecting that Atom will bring with it atleast 6 hours of battery life. I mean isn't that the exact reason why Shen said he chose Intel over VIA. (Hey I just realized that the 2133 is gonna have less battery life)
If they keep the price around $500 i'll buy it.

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