The other major component upgrade is the amount of storage on offer. The original 701 had only 4GB of storage, while the 900 comes in two configurations – one with 12GB of storage and the other with 20GB. There’s no difference in price between these two versions because the 12GB model comes preloaded with Windows XP, while the 20GB version is running Linux. Basically Asus has used the money saved by installing an open source operating system to increase the storage. Of course if you really are set on Windows XP, the obvious suggestion would be to buy the Linux machine, then just install XP yourself – assuming that you have a spare copy of XP knocking about that is.
It’s the 20GB Linux version that I’ve got in front of me right now, and I have to say that I’m simply not convinced that I would ever need Windows XP on a machine like this. The beauty of the Eee PC is its simplicity, so filling it up with a heavy duty OS, when you simply don’t need the majority of the features it offers seems pointless. Unless you absolutely, positively have to run Windows applications like Microsoft Office, when you’re out and about, there’s pretty much nothing that you can’t do with the Linux version.
Performance wise, the Eee PC 900 zips along, without any of the tedious grinding that Windows Vista users will be used to. Unlike with Vista, 1GB of RAM is more than enough for a well configured Linux build, while the fast solid state storage also helps to ensure that the Eee PC 900 responds instantaneously to your commands.
Navigation on the Linux install is unbelievably simple. You’re basically presented with a tabbed desktop, and clicking each tab will change the icons on offer to you on your desktop. The first tab is labelled Internet and unsurprisingly, all the icons are linked to Internet access in some way. Highlights include a Webmail button, which opens a page with various Webmail client icons such as Gmail and Hotmail. The Web icon will open the pre-installed Firefox browser, while the Skype and Google Docs icons will do exactly what it says on the tin. The Messenger button will launch Pidgin, which is a multi-protocol instant messenger client, that works very well. I especially like the fact that all your conversations happen in one window, with tabs for each person you’re talking to – this is very useful when desktop real estate is at a premium.
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