Asus Developing Small, Very Inexpensive Laptop

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The announcement of the Palm Foleo has focused the attention of many on small, relatively low-cost laptop computers, such as ones based on Via’s NanoBook concept design.

One of the more ambitious entries in this category will be Asus Eee PC. When it debuts later this summer, this easily portable laptop will cost less than many handhelds or smartphones.

Update: Brighthand’s Andrew Baxter recently met with Asus to get a close-up look at this upcoming notebook, and put together a First Thoughts Review of the Eee PC.

Asus Eee PC
(view large image)

It will be 8.9 inches wide, 6.5 inches deep, and 1.4 inches thick (22.5 cm by 165 cm by 35 mm). It will weigh just under 2 pounds (890 g).

Details are somewhat unclear in this area, but it appears that the Eee PC will ship with a proprietary operating system with a basic set of functions, including web browsing, exchanging email, and even video chatting with a built-in VGA camera.

Users will apparently have the option of loading full versions of Windows or Linux operating systems, but these won’t be bundled with this device.

Asus hasn’t revealed what processor this model will use, but as Intel was part of the announcement it’s likely it will be one of this company’s low-power chips.

The Eee PC will have the typical clamshell design for a laptop computer, with a 7-inch display, a full QWERTY keyboard, and a trackpad.

Asus Eee PC
(view large image)

For a low-cost device, it will ship with an impressive collection of connectivity options: 56K modem, Ethernet, 802.11b/g, and Bluetooth. There has even been some mention of cellular-wireless connectivity.

To make it more resistant to breakage, the Eee PC won’t have a traditional spinning hard drive. Instead, it will include either a 4 GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB solid-state Flash drive.

The prototype being demonstrated by Asus has two USB ports, a video out port, and some form of removable memory card slot.

Its battery life is expected to be about 3 hours on a single charge.

Asus plans to start shipping the Eee PC in August, with the goal of selling 200,000 units in 2007.

It is expected to sell for $200 to $300; the higher prices will be for the versions with larger capacity Flash drives.

Asus has started a web site for the Eee PC, but this is light on details.

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