updated 01:45 pm EDT, Tue October 16, 2007
ASUS announces Eee UMPC
Though long familiar in the media, ASUS has only now made a formal announcement of the Eee, an ultra-mobile PC meant to be owned by casual users including women and children. Each unit has a screen measuring just seven inches, and users navigate mainly through a graphical interface, whose speed is enhanced due to a reliance on flash storage instead of a conventional hard disk. An 802.11b/g connection links users to the Internet, while other basic accessories include a card reader, webcam and speakers.
Each Eee is loaded by default with Linux, though users can pay extra for Windows Vista if desired. In either case the main piece of work software on the system is Open Office, which handles spreadsheet, word processing and other important functions. Two sublines of the computer are being produced: the standard Eees come in 4GB and 8GB models, with 512MB and 1GB of RAM respectively; battery power provides 3.5 hours of use. The Surf Eees come with 4GB or 2GB flash drives, and are likewise limited by 512 or 256MB of RAM, and a 2.8-hour battery. The webcam has been removed to cut costs.
While ASUS' website does not specify prices, Reuters reports that prices should be as low as $245 for the average buyer, with a $30 premium for installing Vista. Governments and schools in poor countries, meanwhile, will be able to buy the Eee en masse, paying $199 per unit as a starting price. PCWorld reports that a $340 version of the Eee is already on sale in Taiwan; the three other models should be out by the end of November, possibly in the United States as well as Asia.