While the inclusion of an Intel Atom processor is the headline grabber, this isn't to say Asus has been resting on its laurels. Knowing that the likes of MSI Wind, HP 2133 Mini-Note, Acer Aspire One and Dell Inspiron E and E Slim are snapping at its heels, it has given the 901 a subtle but timely makeover. Gone, for example, is the slightly toy-like pearlescent finish, replaced almost entirely by a classy and familiar feeling glossy finish.
Another improvement is the previously mentioned screen hinge, which is both larger and slightly narrower than that on Eee 900. It is, however, a pretty insignificant change compared to greatly improve touch pad. Whereas previous Eee PC touch pads were something to be tolerated rather than admired, this new one is a massive improvement. Its new silver fringing is particularly fetching and the larger size and seamless integration makes it great to use. Indeed, the only complaint is that the buttons are a tad tough, but this is really a trifling issue.
Asus has also gone to town and come back with an assortment of new features, without actually increasing the price. As such, in the 901 you'll benefit from niceties such as Bluetooth, Dolby Sound Room audio (XP version only) and, incredibly, high bandwidth Wireless-N Wi-Fi. Doubtless many won't see the benefit but it's a great feature nonetheless and when you consider the wealth of excellent features already present in the Eee, such as the 1.3 Megapixel camera, dual integrated microphones, multi-touch touch pad, SSD storage, three USB ports, and excellent 8.9in 1,024 x 600 screen, the Eee boasts a feature set to match and surpass many of the machines aspiring to its crown.
The good news doesn't end there, though, because there's one other new feature that's probably the most significant of the lot: the battery. Previously Asus has been rightly criticised for not providing the battery needed for satisfactory long-term use, but the 6-cell 6600mAh battery supplied with the Eee PC 901 changes all of that.
Though it pushes the weight just a smidgen over 1kg, to 1.1kg, it finally gives us the thing we've been craving: longevity. Previous Eee PCs tended to keel over at around the three hour mark or below, but when used with the screen at full brightness, with wireless active, we managed a very impressive four hours and 45 minutes of real-world use.
Asus, in fact, claims up to 7.8 hours and though we haven't had the time to re-create the conditions required to test this claim, given the large number of brightness increments and potential power savings it's a claim we can believe in. Moreover, regardless of what the exact figure might be, the 901 delivers the kind of battery life that provides freedom and flexibility.