nextgen EEE with WiMax

Looks like the next version of the EEE will have improved battery life, a bigger screen and WiMax support:

Intel and Sprint are putting a lot of muscle behind WiMAX. Intel’s Montevina notebook platform will support WiMAX in Q2 2008 and the Menlow UMPC platform — presumably the foundation for ASUS’ next generation Eee PC — will also feature 3G and WiMAX integration. For its part, Sprint plans to invest $5 billion USD into WiMAX over the next two years.

Should ASUS choose to adopt the Menlow platform for the next generation Eee PC, huge power saving will be realized for users. The current Eee PC uses a 90nm, 900MHz Celeron M processor running at 630MHz with the current official BIOS. Intel’s Menlow platform includes a 45nm Silverthorne processor which promises ten times the power efficiency of first generation UMPCs using Intel Celeron M, Pentium M and A100/A110 processors.

Other big news coming from the Commercial Times is that an 8.9″ screen is in store for the next generation Eee PC. The current Eee PC uses a 7″ 800×480 widescreen display. Many have complained about the lack of real estate with the 7″ screen, but an 8.9″ display with a 1024×600 screen resolution could quiet a few critics.

This all sounds great, as long as they maintain the sub-$400 price point. I hope Asus doesn’t get too enamoured of their form factor and forget that the price is really the reason for the EEE’s success.


Impressive – in just one quarter, Asus has sold over a third of a million EEE PCs:

Asus EEE 2G Surf PC lush green (image from (Taiwan) – Asustek has managed to take their Eee little PC and turn it into big sales numbers. In the first quarter of sales, the Eee PC shipped 350,000 units, which is 50,000 more than industry experts’ predictions. The Eee PC will be available at Best Buy in U.S. in 2008, and also in Japan at the same time.

Once the EEE enters the retail channel, I imagine that it’s going to wipe out the low-end of the PC market, especially when the Windows XP version and the new desktop version are released. Surprisingly, NewEgg has managed to keep the EEE in stock, probably because the EEE lineup has broadened to several price points. At the low end there is the $300 “Surf 2G” which has 512 MB RAM and a 2GB SSD (not to mention a choice of pastel colors). Above that is the $350 “Surf 4G” which takes you up to a 4GB SSD. Next is the “classic” EEE 4G at $400, with a webcam and a bigger battery, and above that the “8G” model with an 8GB SSD and 1GB RAM for $500. It’s also worth noting that you can’t upgrade the RAM unless you have a 4G Surf or better, and you can’t upgrade the SSD on any model except the 8G (because on the latter, the SSD is mounted in a mini-PCI slot rather than soldered directly to the motherboard). RAM upgrades used to void the warranty, but ASUS has since caved in that regard.

I am seriously thinking about ordering an EEE this weekend. I have some overseas travel coming up and the advantages of the EEE over my regular Thinkpad, in terms of size, weight, and theft risk, are obvious. I’m not sure which one to spring for. The SSD size is not a concern, given that I can buy an 8GB SD card for $30 (after rebate). The bigger issue for me is eventually upgrading the RAM, because I probably will eventually put XP on it rather than stick with the Linux distro. That really means I need to choose between the 4G and the 4G Surf. Is it worth the extra $50 to have a webcam and bigger battery? Or even the extra $150 for the extra RAM and SSD on the 8G model? I’d welcome opinions from anyone on this.

EEE 2.0

Ars has a gigantic review of the EEE. It is as comprehensive as you can imaging, delving into everything from design build to hacking the OS.

In other news, Asus has revealed the specs on the next generation EEE: double the flash storage to 8 GB, and a larger 10″ LCD screen. Assuming they bump the resolution to 1024×768 or thereabouts on that larger screen, it would pretty much answer Ars’ main complaint.

The only other thing to complain about with the EEE is the cramped keyboard; but we have seen a solution for that before

the story of EEE

11-2-07-eee.jpgForbes has a fantastic, fascinating article about the road to development for the EEE. Lots of interesting tidbits, including how ASUS leveraged its role as a supplier for all the major vendors to get deals on components, how CEO Jonny Shih insisted on perfection rather than allow the device to be rushed out the door, and even how Microsoft came begging hat in hand to be a part of it, offering Windows for an unheard-of price discount (under $40 per license, so if the XP version is more expensive than $449, cry foul!). But I find the most interesting part to be how the machine is aimed at the “next billion” market:

Shih says Asustek will tap into a new market–consumers unable to buy computers because they’re too expensive or just too intimidating. Indeed, the Eee name comes from easy to learn, easy to play and easy to work. That new market has been nicknamed the second billion. An estimated 1 billion people now have access to computers and the Internet, but even in developed countries, computers are just out of reach for millions. In the developing world that number is in the hundreds of millions.

But Asustek clearly wants to connect with the first billion, too. For instance, the 2- to 8-gigabyte memory cards can be upgraded to 32 gigabytes and the RAM from 256 megabyte to 1 gigabyte by simply taking out two screws on the back of the machine, something that Shen demonstrates but isn’t including in the marketing materials. Asustek is also linking with mobile telecom companies to provide a 3g attachment, so users can be connected when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

hacking the eee for xp

Notebook Review already has an article on hacking the eee – and getting it to run Windows XP. There’s a step-by-step install guide in the forums. They’ve got a helpful video to compare boot times for XP on the eee vs a standard laptop:

That’s just awesome. Performance running XP isn’t exactly gamer godbox but it will get the job done. The thing costs $399, remember. That’s less than any Blu-Ray drive 🙂

Note that Asus will sell a Windows version of the eee next year, but that will probably be more expensive. This is the way to do it on the cheap!

If you still want to run the thing in Linux, there’s also advice on how to add any program you want beyond the initial app list, as well as add a standard start menu and other tweaks. This thing is going to be the ultimate hacker’s guide. In a lot of ways it’s the Mac Mini done right.

(presently out of stock at New Egg. big surprise. reminds me of another hot product, that even rhymes…)

Asus G2

(Steven asked for information about Asus notebooks, but for some reason I couldn’t log into the system to leave a comment, even though I am supposedly a registered user. So, I’ll just respond here.)

Asus is well-known for excellent notebooks. It’s one of those OEM brands, like Sager, that don’t have a lot of retail presence but to which notebook aficionados often turn, for build quality equal to or exceeding that of the majors like HP/Dell, but with better components and lower price. In the case of Sager, Dell literally just slaps their logo on the case and resells as their own brand.

There’s no better resource for notebook reviews than, of course, They have a typically detailed and thorough review of the base Asus G2 model (which differs from Steven’s choice in a few components but is otherwise the same). That’s the best place to get an idea of the real performance, aesthetics, build quality, screen, etc – all the intangibles that you can’t get off a spec sheet.

ASUS G Series G2S-B1 Intel Core 2 Duo 17.1The model Steven is interested in, the ASUS G Series G2S-B1 Intel Core 2 Duo 17.1″ Wide UXGA, is available all over the place online: at NewEgg for $2300, at for $2064, and at Amazon for $2200. (I am an affiliate for each of these retailers).

I don’t think you can go wrong with this machine if you’re in the market for a serious desktop replacement (as long as you don’t intend to lug it around).


ASUS Eee PC 4G - Pearl White Intel processor 7
One of the more surprising products to come down the pike of late has been the Asus EEE PC. Here are the basic specs:

  • Intel Celeron M ULV 900 MHz processor
  • Storage: 4 GB of flash-based storage (solid state)
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Screen: 7 inches, 800×480, with speakers on both sides
  • Ports: 3 USB, 1 VGA out, headphone/mic, SD card reader, Ethernet
  • Extras: 0.3 MP webcam, 802.11 b/g wireless

Thats’s almost a perfect distillation of the most-used hardware features. Note that there’s no hard drive, just a 4GB SSD disk. That cuts down on power and weight, at the obvious expense of storage capacity (but 4GB is plenty for basic office documents and such. You can’t expect to drop your Picasa or iTunes folders on here).

The software stack is also strong – Asus worked with Xandros for a customized distribution and window interface, that comes preloaded with a very well-thought out list of preloaded apps, grouped into tabbed categories: Internet, Work, Learn, and Play (and Settings). The apps include Skype, Firefox, a universal Messenger client, Open Office, a media player, and shortcuts to Wikipedia and Youtube. If this isn’t enough, Asus does plan to introduce a Windows version in 2008 (presumably at a higher price point).

The review at Notebook Review was gushing:

In the end, the Eee PC is the single most impressive notebook we’ve seen priced below $400. The technical specs might look sub par, but the usability and overall performance of the Eee PC rivals notebooks costing several thousand dollars more. Granted, you can’t install Photoshop on this little notebook and you can forget about playing Bioshock on this thing, but the Eee PC can do just about everything you “need” to do with a notebook while on the go.
As it stands now, the Eee PC is a truly impressive ultraportable with a value much higher than the sale price suggests. The Eee PC can’t replace a full-featured desktop or notebook, but it makes the perfect choice if you are in the market for an ultraportable notebook for school, work, or vacation.

Note however that with three USB ports (more than I have on my Thinkpad T42, note) you can basically extend the machine’s capability in true flex computing fashion. In fact it makes sense for the PC to be as”light” as possible in a flex computing environment; just add a external graphics card, disk drive, DVD player, and a few other bells and whistles and you’ve got a complete workstation.

tiny asus eeeThe bottom line is that this little PC pretty much suffices for the vast majority of casual users who need a PC for travel, wireless internet access, basic office work, and managing media. And it’s tiny (2lbs) and cheap: $399 retail at Best Buy or online at New Egg.