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ASUS Eee PC 900 (Linux)

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ASUS pioneered the low-cost laptop frontier with its Eee PC 701. This trailblazer, now competing against more polished competition such as HP’s Mini-Note, seeks to maintain its lead with the Eee PC 900. This $549 mini-notebook addresses its predecessor’s drawbacks by including a larger, higher-resolution 8.9-inch screen and more storage space.

We tested the Linux-based version, which comes with a 20GB solid state drive. (A Windows XP version of the 900 will also be available for $549 but it will sport a smaller 12GB SSD). Add in an improved 1.3-megapixel webcam and a multi-touch capable touchpad, and you have the makings of a successful, albeit more expensive sequel. If you can live with shorter battery life and a still-small keyboard, the Eee PC 900 is worth the extra dough.

Similar Design, Size, and Weight

Aesthetically, the Eee PC 900 isn’t noticeably different from the Eee PC 701 (or Eee PC 4G); the two look almost identical when sitting side by side. The systems, however, are more fraternal than identical twins: The Eee PC 900 is 0.2 inches longer than its brother and approximately 3.2 ounces heavier. Nevertheless, the system is still no bigger than most hardcover books, and carrying it around in a shoulder bag still left ample room for a wallet, keys, and cell phone. Under the lid we instantly noticed a few key differences. The screen is almost 2 inches larger (more on that below), the speakers that straddled it have been moved to the underside, and a silver plate surrounds the webcam.

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