Friday, May 23, 2008

Mini laptop anyone?

Are you a part-time roadwarrior that has to give a presentation interstate at a conference, and would rather not have to bring your big-ass, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, weighs-a-freaking-tonne desktop replacement? Then the Asus EEE PC might just be what you need. And at the moment, Penta Computers, which has a brick and mortar shopfront at Ultimo, is selling the EEE 4G (900Mhz celeron processor, 512Mb RAM, 4Gb SSD, Xandros OS) for $371, which is a bargain considering that they originally cost $500 when they launched in Australia about 6 months ago, and are still being sold near the original price at the big box stores (like Officeworks, Myer and Harvey Norman). A version with XP pre-installed will cost $108 extra, unless you're ok with a green coloured one, which is bizarrely only $32 more.

At first blush, the EEE might seem too much like a kids computer, but when you look past the 'kid/n00b-friendly' interface of the reworked Xandros Linux OS, you'll see that you're actually getting quite a lot for something that costs just a bit more than a PDA/smartphone, but is much more capable. Its has an ethernet port for a start, which is very handy for the times when you only have cable access to a network, a VGA-out port for outputting to a bigger screen or onto a projector set-up, and three USB host ports, which at the very least, can power some peripherals.
Just add a monitor, a USB keyboard and mouse (the supplied keyboard and touchpad are a bit cramped), and an external USB HD and you've almost got yourself a basic, but capable desktop to work with. On the go, the Asus can perform adequately with wifi on for approximately 3 hours, which is enough to get some emails checked, get some surfing done, and maybe review and edit some office documents when you have some free time. And to think, a few years ago, an ultraportable laptop that is not too dissimilar from the EEE specs would have set you back a few thousand dollars...

PS: If you think the EEE prices are cheap now, you may be able to get an even cheaper price in a few months, when the second iteration of the Asus EEE PC arrives (I'd like to say in Q3 08, but I have nothing to back that up), which has more screen real estate (9 inches, 1024x600), more memory (1Gb) and more SSD space (12-20Gb)...of course it may be the case that the second gen (dubbed the EEE-900) might be more to your liking, so the choice is yours.
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