Asus has officially launched the new version of its Eee PC mini-notebook.
By now the basic specs of the Eee PC 900 are well-known: a larger (8.9-inch), 1,024x600 display, higher-resolution Webcam, more memory and flash storage, and multi-touch touchpad navigation similar to that of the Apple MacBook Air (Asus calls it FingerGlide). It is slightly longer and heavier than the original, the Eee PC 701, but it still weighs only 2.2 pounds.
What's it all add up to? The first reviews are in. Despite the cramped keyboard that is still tough to use, CNET UK liked all of the new features, which it said will help Asus retain its lead over a growing list of rivals for this new category. TrustedReviews agrees that Asus has done "a brilliant job of updating an already great product." The higher-resolution, widescreen display, and extra memory and storage all "make this version of the Eee PC a real alternative to a fully featured notebook."
Still there were a few issues. To squeeze in a larger screen, Asus moved the speakers to the bottom, which results in muffled sound. Battery life was barely two hours on TrustedReviews tests. And you'll have to wait until later this year if you want a model with Intel's new Atom processor; this version still uses the same 900MHz Celeron chip. Finally the price is a bit higher too.
The Eee PC has been a hit in a category--subnotebooks--that has never really caught on before. Asus claims that it has sold more than 1 million Eee PCs in less than six months. Overall it looks like the Eee PC 900 will add to this improbable success story.