Few could argue that Asus created something special when it launched the Eee PC last year. The idea of making a truly mobile, yet very affordable mobile computer was welcomed by the Press and consumers in equal measure. Although the Eee PC 4G 701 that Andy reviewed back in October 2007 was a great machine, there were a couple of issues that took away some of the shine. Now however, I have the Eee PC 900 to play with, and it looks as though Asus may have got everything just about perfect this time.
Anyone who's got a few years under their belt, like myself, will be well aware that the concept of a basic, portable computer with solid state storage and no moving parts is nothing new. About ten years ago I did a significant amount of my writing on a Psion Series 5, which was laughably referred to as a PDA. In the Series 5, Psion created a device so usable, that I was able to write entire features on it while sitting on the train. The company then pushed the boundaries even further when it launched the Series 7 and eventually the NetBook.
What Psion got right with its machines was a balance of essential functionality, small form factor and great battery life. As time moved on, though, fully fledged notebooks became smaller and lighter and end users wanted to run feature rich (read bloated) operating systems on their mobile computers. All this spelled the end for Psion hardware (although it did spin off its EPOC OS as Symbian), and for a long time we simply didn't see machines like the Series 7 and NetBook. Thankfully Asus realised that there was room in the market for a basic, affordable machine that didn't need to run the latest version of Windows - thus the Eee PC was born.
For anyone who hasn't heard of the Eee PC before (where have you been hiding?), let me give you the low down. The Eee PC is a very small machine measuring 225 x 165 x 35mm (WxDxH) and weighing around 1kg. that puts it well and truly into the ultra-portable sector, being lighter than even a Sony TZ31MN, and smaller too. This is a machine built to be used on the move, without the need to make much space for it in your bag. The Eee PC comes in two colours, pearlescent white, like the one I'm reviewing here and black - yes, that does sound very similar to Apple's MacBook range, but that's most definitely where the similarities end.