Saturday, June 16, 2007

The $200 ASUS Eee generates much interest;
will ship with Linux Desktop OS installed

It seems the Asus Eee Flash memory laptop I posted about earlier is creating some excitement; I've been getting a lot of hits on site meter from people doing searches about it. I've not seen this much interest in any other Linux device I've posted about. This machine will probably be highly sought after when it's released, possibly as soon as mid-August.

Some people are predicting that this machine will put the XO laptop by the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) out of business. But it should be remembered that the ASUS Eee is aimed at a much wider market than the XO.

The XO is aimed at children in developing countries; it has a low wattage electrical requirement, a manual battery recharger, a unique screen which can be read in sunlight (school classes in the poorest countries are often outdoors), and a rugged construction made with children in mind.

In comparison the ASUS Eee seems more like a conventional laptop. No doubt it could compete with the XO in some education markets, but that need not end the OPLC project; they just need to create a more flexible, competitive distribution strategy than their current one.

The great thing about the ASUS Eee is that it's a commercial product, not just for kids, but for everyone. Paul Jastrzebski at offers us a preview of what the ASUS Eee offers. He starts off with the hardware, but he also looks at the software, giving us a closer look at the Linux software the machine is expected to ship with:

ASUS Eee PC Hand's On Preview
[...] In Easy mode, there are six tabs: Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, and Favorites. Each of these tabs has icons that can link to a website, file, or application on the Eee. The internet tab has a few interesting links, one to web storage, one to Wikipedia, and even one to Skype. The Eee PC 701 will likely have Skype pre-installed, and coupled with the notebook’s onboard webcam and microphone, will open up VOIP communications to an entire new set of users.

The Work tab opens up 15 different applications, ranging from standard Office-type software to a dictionary. The documents, spreadsheets, and presentations icons all lead to their respective applications in the free, open source office software suite Open Office. The Eee PC even comes with its own Anti-Virus software and in the learn section, has a typing and a painting program. Asus plans to include more open source education-related software when the Eee PC hits the market later this year, but didn’t give any more information on specific titles.

According to ASUS representatives, Standard mode was made to be “Windows-like” and looks and feels just like a typical Windows OS. The Windows Start button is replaced by a Launch icon, and navigating through files and applications is just like Windows. Even the minimize, maximize, and close buttons in the top right of each application window on the Eee PC 701 look identical to that of the Windows XP Silver style theme we run on our own standard notebooks. It seems as though ASUS is trying to bring as much “Windows-like” functionality to the Eee PC as they possibly can. With Windows in mind, ASUS has said that the Eee PC has already been tested to work on Microsoft’s Windows XP, but to keep costs down it will not come pre-installed on the Eee PC.

See the full review for more details and lots more photos and screen shots. I've been curious at to which Linux distribution the OS is based on, but have not as yet seen any information about that. The Easy Mode looks, well, really easy for computer newbies and novices. The Standard Mode, pictured directly above, looks much like a typical Linux Desktop, probably using the KDE GUI.

At $200 it's a very affordable machine! Flash memory instead of a hard drive means fast response times, low power usage and no fan. Fewer moving parts to break down. It has plenty of USB ports for attaching external hard drives or CD/DVD drives for those who want them.

I predict this is going to be a very popular item. I know I want one!

Related link:

Universal Internet Access for Everyone, and the Law of Unintended Consequences


Anonymous said...

As a long time KDE user I can confirm that is a KDE based desktop, as such the possibilities here are endless. The range of applications that run on a Linux/KDE would allow most users to perform any task they require.

Though 4GB of storage might seem small, this could be expanded with USB or network drives when at home so for most I doubt this will be a real issue.

This thing is going to sell loads.

I only hope that it is released here on the UK and that $199 actually translates close to £100!


Chas said...


I use KDE too. I think most people who are familiar with Windows will find it very easy to use. You said:

This thing is going to sell loads.

I agree. I think many folks will find it very useful.

I only hope that it is released here on the UK and that $199 actually translates close to £100!

I read one report somewhere that it's going to be £200 in the UK, but that's unconfirmed. Details are still sketchy, and I suspect we won't really know more until a release date is announced and you can actually place an order. Let's hope you get your wish.

Unknown said...

The downside is the screen resolution. The OLPC has a 7.5" 1200x900 resolution screen. The Asus PC-701 has a 7" 800x480 screen.

Since the PC-701 is supposed to be a notebook PC and not a PDA, I think an 800 pixel width is far too limiting.

I'd love to use an Asus PC-701 for an portable music production machine, but I know for a fact that some music software won't even run on anything less than 1024 pixel width.

I have several web sites. I basically abandoned 800x600 users - just not worth the extra web programming effort.

Since the Eee PC-701 is intended to be a PC and not a PDA, Asus should rethink their product or at least provide an option for SVGA 1024×768 resolution in their PC-701 size subnotebook.

800×480 may have been okay in the 1990’s but is inadequate for a PC in today’s world.

Chas said...


You make some good points. Some people might not mind the 800x480 limitation, but I imagine many would, for the reasons you mentioned.

The next version of the eee is supposed to come out in 2008. It will have a larger screen and higher resolution size, too. It think it's also going to cost more too, about $300. It might be worth waiting for.

As much as I'd like to get one soon, I think I'll wait and see what happens with the folks who buy the first version. It will be interesting to see how well it does.

Anonymous said...

Asus has sold a ton of these and now with the 900 out it is really amazing to see this trend just take over!