An Asus Eee PC Alternate Internet Gadget

   
   
   
   
   
olpc asus eee kids
Happy Asus Eee PC users
Now the low-cost laptop war is really heating up! Asus just released official Eee PC specifications, price points, and retail partners for its newest ultra-mobile personal computer (UMPC).

Asustek even took the dreaded "gadget" label that OLPC shunned and embraced it with amazing Chinglish pride in their Eee PC announcement:
The Eee PC is a 7-inch gadget designed for first-time mobile internet gadget users including young students, children, housewives, the elderly, individual stock investors, and anyone who enjoys mobility as a part of their web surfing experience.
First up, lets check out the E3 spec sheet on the first four models. While they are not One Laptop Per Child impressive, you have to give Asus credit for packing in a decent XO-1 comparable feature set:
Model Name Eee PC 8G Eee PC 4G Eee PC 4G Surf Eee PC 2G Surf
Display 7" 7" 7" 7"
Intel CPU & Chipset V V V V
Operating System Linux
Windows XP compatible
Linux
Windows XP compatible
Linux
Windows XP compatible
Linux
Windows XP compatible
Ethernet Communication V V V V
WLAN V V V V
Memory 1G (DDR2) 512 MB (DDR2) 512 MB (DDR2) 256 MB (DDR2)
S.S.D. Storage (Solid-State Disk) 8G 4G 4G 2G
Camera V V - -
Audio Hi-Definition audio
Stereo speaker
Microphone
Hi-Definition audio
Stereo speaker
Microphone
Hi-Definition audio
Stereo speaker
Microphone
Hi-Definition audio
Stereo speaker
Microphone
Battery 4 Cells: 5200 mAh, 3.5hrs* 4 Cells: 5200 mAh, 3.5hrs* 4 Cells: 4400 mAh,2.8hrs* 4 Cells: 4400 mAh,2.8hrs*
Weight < 1kg < 1kg < 1kg < 1kg
* Specification changes are subject to different models
* Actual battery life will depend on actual operations and other settings.
* Product contains software under GPL license agreement
Next up, Asus has finally given us a price range for the four Eee PC models of $299 to $399, which should now silence Charbax's complaints about the real price of the Asus Eee PC. No matter how much the computer costs to manufacture, it will be sold at these prices. Of course, I have to agree with Luigi Lugmayr on model preference:
olpc asus eee
An OLPC alternative?
For power users the Asus Eee PC 8G is anyway the only choice. $399 is not that bad for a 7 inch notebook with 1GB RAM, 8GB SSD, webcam and 3.5h battery life.
Asus will be selling the Eee PC through NewEgg and Best Buy. Oddly, there is no mention of the AllAsus website and its Eee PC pre-orders. Maybe Robert Arrowsmith bought them out already.

Regardless, Nicholas Negroponte's "$100 laptop" blowback is going to impact the XO G1G1 sales plan. I doubt it will diminish the true geek demand. Linux-lovers alone should guarantee that G1G1 will sell out fast, but there will be a demand leak among those who want an "adult" PC, Windows, or simple post-sale maintenance and support. The latter being a real OLPC weakness in the USA, Uruguay, or even among the Internet digerati.

Will you be one of those "Eee leakers"?

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15 Comments

I'd like an XO as a pdf reader. I already use a nokia 770 for other formats but the screen of the XO would be great for A4 pdfs. All other small laptops comming out don't look like they can be used for this. I won't be getting one for some time though since I am not in the US...

Silence me? Never. Ask Asus how manz units thez are planning to ship at that $299 price. Most Eee will ship at $399 not a penny less. Asus aren't insane to loose millions on selling laptops below cost. Not only selling them below cost is insane, but cannibalizing Asus sale of more expensive models would hurt them the most.

Intel and Asus does not want to cannibalise themselves.

$299 model will be sold to a dozen bloggers who will write about there being a $299 model, but it will appear as "Out-of-stock" for everyone else.

Charbax knows how the industry operates.

As someone who was involved in setting the $1795 price point for a portable computer (no laptops yet in 1981), it is gratifying to see a new generation of simpler, smaller computers starting ot gain a toehold. Of course, their success will be dependent upon the existence of useful software, so I encourage hackers everywhere to get busy with these low-end diskless machines.

There's no cannibalization at a new price-point. You're addressing a new customer base and they aren't interested in your $500 laptops. Otherwise they'd buy one.

Regardless of what Intel's and Asus' plans are, if the technology allows for the production of a profitable $200 laptop then if Asus or Intel won't build it, Quanta will. If Quanta's guessed correctly about the direction and demand of the market then the rest of the industry will be playing catch up and Quanta will be leading.

The XO is a fine pdf reader and the screen rotates into a tablet/eBook that is fully readable in full sunlight or full 200 dpi color inside or at night.

My Eee is on order with Citrus Micro. They even emailed me a few weeks back to verify my order.

I'm a little worried about freight cost from the US to Australia but for a $299 'throw-in-the-bag' machine I can handle an extra $50 postage.

The fact that it uses a 'standard hardware design' will make it that much more compatible with operating systems like Ubuntu Linux. Although I'm prepared to be pleasantly surprised by what Asus puts in them. As long as I can get to a console window and run SSH I'll be happy.

I guess thats what computers should be in my opinion, Tools not Entertainment.

That explains why I run Linux as my OS of choice. Everything else is just mass media.

Wayan,

"I doubt it will diminish the true geek demand. Linux-lovers alone should guarantee that G1G1 will sell out fast, but there will be a demand leak among those who want an "adult" PC"

I think most of the potential buyers would already poses an "adult" PC - what many will look for instead is an ultra-portable to be used as an eBook reader, document reader/editor and web browser, and for that you need something with an excellent display (please refer to your own thread on Classmate vs. XO webpage displaying capability, and Eee PC would be in the Classmate class), long operation, ruggedness and flexible form factor and in these ( 'practical' rather than 'geek' factors) XO is far superior compared to the other contenders. The geeks will no doubt be impressed by faster processor speed etc of Eee but for an 'end user' (and in practical usage) has very little meaning.

I'm looking forward to XO based (being in Australia can't buy XO itself) laptops hitting the market in the not too distant future...

"The geeks will no doubt be impressed by faster processor speed etc of Eee but for an 'end user' (and in practical usage) has very little meaning."

Actually, what I know of "Geeks" is quite the opposite. They are mostly drawn to good, surprising, design. Speed is only for gamers and video processing.

I am not sure whether Linus Torvalds qualifies as a geek, but he really goes for the small form factor. This attitude is also evident from the high level kernel hackers who help the OLPC.

Winter

allen,

"There's no cannibalization at a new price-point. You're addressing a new customer base and they aren't interested in your $500 laptops."

Well, it depends on whether or not Asus is making a profit on the $299 model. Maybe this is just a bait-and-switch scam. Has anyone done a price analysis based on the components?

Winter,

"Actually, what I know of "Geeks" is quite the opposite."

I see what you mean. I guess there is no definite meaning for the word 'geek'. I used it to mean a person with obsessive attention to technical details (of eg. computer, car) overriding any practical considerations and usability issues.

"I used it to mean a person with obsessive attention to technical details (of eg. computer, car) overriding any practical considerations and usability issues."

Which is indeed how I see it. However, this does not equate to a love of clock-rates. GHz are for salespersons.

The real Geek crams Linux into an iPod an plays Tux racer on it. I even saw Linux on a cash register with only a single line readout.

Winter

"I even saw Linux on a cash register with only a single line readout."

I went into a local computer 'department' store here a few weeks back.

The only computer in the store running Linux was the one running a specific application advertising a wireless ISP product.

Must have been a geek that designed that.

"The only computer in the store running Linux was the one running a specific application advertising a wireless ISP product.

Must have been a geek that designed that."

The real thing:
http://27.org/linuxregister/014.html

I was wrong, it was two lines.
I am not sure whether this was the one I saw originally, though.

Winter

The problem with the eeepc is the resolution, it's only 800px accross when everything online these days assumes more. Otherwise it's a really nice machine, certainly has more standard hardware/software and is beefier than the xo.

I'm inclined to give weight to Occam's Razor Eduardo and the notion of a fraudulent $300 laptop is a more complex explanation for the Eee then a profitable $300 laptop. If you've got some information to the contrary then cough it up but dark suspicions don't qualify as data.

Besides, what would be the point? It's not like the sub-$300 laptop market is so rife with profit potential that it's worth a clumsy fraud such as you're suggesting. Why not just continue to hammer out $500 and up laptops which are a known quantity rather then sally forth into this unfamiliar, unexplored market? Granted the Eee doesn't represent all that much of a departure from current practice but still, given the fiercely competitive nature of the computer market it seems like a poor use of resources to engineer and manufacture a computer for a market you have no intention of pursuing.

I think, as I've stated before, that the XO was a bit of a shock to the computer manufacturing industry. The ultra-low end of the market has always been the province of small outfits that parted together marginal machines out of obsolete/obsolescent componentry for the thinnest of margins. Why bother messing around with that market when a much more lucrative market exists higher up the price chart?

The XO, by dispensing with a couple of assumptions, changed all that. Between getting rid of the hard drive and the proprietary OS, and designing to take advantage of those decisions, OLPC changed the rules of the laptop game. Asus looks to be the first to market with a roughly comparable machine but - and you read it here first - it won't be the last.

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