It's nice to know that in all the excitement surrounding the Eee PC Asus hasn't forgotten that there other other types of notebook other than itty-bitty-teeny-weeny-ultra portable ones. Indeed, its latest offering, the M50, could be considered the complete antithesis of such sub-notebooks, focussing instead, as it does, on performance and multimedia playback.
A quick look at the specs confirms these thoughts, with the option of a Blu-ray drive being the big hitter. Unfortunately, the 15.4in screen lets things down slightly as the maximum resolution is only 1,680 x 1,050 (with 1,440 x 900 and 1,280 x 720 options also available), which is far short of the Full HD figures of 1,920x1,200. That said, assuming the screen is of decent quality, watching HD movies should still be a pleasure.
Adding to the media pretentions is a dual-function touch pad that doubles up as a set of multimedia controls - which incidentally glow when activated. Also on the plus side are speakers supplied by Altec Lansing, backed up by Dolby Home Theatre audio processing.
More internally, the usual range of Core 2 Duo processors is available, including T7-series (Merom, 65nm) and T9-series and T8-series (Penryn, 45nm) options. Memory wise, up to 4GB of 667MHz DDR2 is available and graphics options include the 512MB nVidia GeForce 9500M GS, 256MB AMD ATI Radeon HD 3450, or the 1GB Radeon HD 3650. All of these offer each respective manufacturer's video processing, which improve video quality and offload Blu-ray and other video decoding from the CPU - saving on battery life and system resources.
Availability and pricing information isn't known yet but Asus doesn't usually announce new products too far ahead of launch so expect the wait to be no more than a few weeks. Given the similar target market, pricing is going to want to be somewhere in the region of Acer's Gemstone Blue. We'll just have to wait and see, though.