A small group of Maximum PC readers (and editors) tend to glaze over at the mere mention of the Eee PC. For those of you that fall into this category, I’ll do my best to keep it interesting and you’ll be glad to know, this isn’t an ordinary netbook announcement. The now household name that spawned a generation of inexpensive PC’s have unveiled a new form factor that brings the Eee product line closer to being a desktop solution than ever before. First impressions of the product are obvious, it is clearly intended to appeal to the budget conscious crowd who can’t afford an iMac, or simply don’t care to pay the Apple tax. Asus isn’t the first to take on the iMac, but the Eee brand name, and touch screen interface gives it an interesting advantage over its competitors.
The Eee Top will come in two variations, the ET1602 and the ET1603. Both models feature a 15.6” touch screen display, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of Ram, and a 160GB Hard Drive. Other less critical features include 802.11n networking as well as a built in card reader and web cam. The two models are almost completely identical with the one exception being the ET1603’s inclusion of the ATI Mobility Radeon HD3450 for graphics. The ET1602 by comparison will only sport Intel integrated. No pricing has yet been announced for either model, and both systems will feature Windows XP Home with a custom touch screen GUI.
So, is this the form factor of Eee PC you were waiting for?
Fujitsu has taken a leaf out of Nintendo’s book – from the chapter Nintendo DS - by incorporating a second display in its new Lifebook N7010 notebook. The Lifebook N7010 has a 4-inch touch-screen panel to compliment its primary 16-inch display. The auxiliary display, which has been placed just above the keyboard, is meant to function as an application launcher. Users can also control media playback using the second display and view slideshows on it.
Additionally, users can easily multitask using the second display by dragging any application onto it. The notebook boasts of a 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor, up to 4GB RAM, 256 MB ATI HD 3470 video card, a maximum of 320GB storage space, Blu-ray ROM drive, HDMI-out, Bluetooth and 802.11N WiFi. Its modest battery life, which is claimed to be about 2.5 hrs, comes across as the only blemish, at least on paper. The Lifebook N7010 will begin shipping on November 10th with a starting price of $1499.
ASUS CEO Jerry Shen discussed the Eee PC range at great length during an interview given to Laptop Magazine. He pegged all-time Eee PC sales – it has just completed its first year in the market - at around 4 million units. Shen confirmed rumors that the first batch of touch panel Eee PCs will become available by early 2009, but withheld details of the touch-sensitive netbooks.
He disclosed that the 7-inch Eee PC has performed very well till now. Shen rejected the possibility of an Eee PC with a screen size in excess of 10 inches. He argued against the notion that its Eee PC range has pushed all its other notebooks to the background. Finally, Shen said that Eee PCs running Windows 7 will become available in mid-2009.
We can expect a deluge of touch panel notebooks in the immediate future. Merely a week ago, general manger of the Eee PC division at Asustek, Samson Hu, had said that the company is contemplating touch panel Eee PCs.