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Portables Hardware

Early Look At ASUS Eee PC 901 With Intel Atom CPU 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the chip-off-the-old-block dept.
Might E. Mouse writes "Reviews are hitting the net for the first Intel Atom-powered netbooks, and TrustedReviews has posted one for the ASUS Eee PC 901 20G Linux Edition. Has ASUS won the Atom(ic) war before it even started? With features like Wireless-N and a 6600mAh battery good for four to seven hours, that might well be the case. TR rated it highly, but I'm going to wait for their MSI Wind review before making a purchase — their first look at the Wind showed a better keyboard and larger storage." An anonymous reader notes that despite the increased capabilities, the 901 debuts at a lower cost than its predecessor.
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Early Look At ASUS Eee PC 901 With Intel Atom CPU

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  • There's an ad for the MSI Wind adjacent to the text for the Asus review.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:15AM (#23800825)
    with MSI, eeePC, XO v2.0 and a host of other micronotebooks, I'm going to wait another year for it all to solidify. There's a lot of speculation right now, and I'd like to see a market tested, proven platform I can compare to all the others before I buy.
    • by melonman (608440) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:26AM (#23800931) Journal
      I can understand that, but, if you followed that logic consistently, you'd never buy a computer at all. I bought a 701, which I liked apart from the screen. Then I bought a Windows 900, on which I've installed Kubuntu, and I'm quite happy with it. It's a bit irritating that the next model is out already, but I'll be using mine on a series of train trips next week. If I had done things your way, I'd be reading magazine reviews instead of doing any work...
      • I bought an XO back in December and love it. I've found a way to type on it that allows me to still type fast enough to get work done. Also, I don't "follow the logic consistently". I usually wait until something's matured and dropped in price enough for it to behoove me to buy it. I bought a Core 2 Duo for ~200 bucks about two years ago, and have resisted and resisted getting a Core 2 Quad or Phenom. The prices and product have had long enough to mature, and 6 or 8 core processors are far enough away to wa
      • by darjen (879890)
        That depends. I did like the 701, but I definitely didn't like how the screen didn't fill up the lid all the way. So I figured I would wait to see if they would come out with a larger screen, and they did. Now it would be worth my money, imho, even though they might release something better in the future. It depends on what you want and how often you are willing to upgrade your stuff.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "I'm going to wait another year for it all to solidify."

      I'll just wait until something interesting pops up used and cheap!
      I'd wait if buying a truck or other high value asset, but there are so many computer choices making a quick, economic decision is easy. So is dumping it if I make a mistake.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bgfay (5362)
      I thought the same thing last year and then, when my folks, brother, and wife couldn't think of anything else to get me for Christmas, I suggested the Eee 701 8G. I got it on a whim, thinking it would be a good toy. And it is. But I was surprised by how much work I can do on the thing. Most of the time, it's my primary computer.

      The keyboard takes a lot of knocks in reviews, but listen to the people who have had one for a while. I have meaty fingers and I can type fast on the thing. The screen is too small,
  • by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:19AM (#23800867)
    If it had been up to Microsoft and Sony, we'd still be stuck with overpriced $2000 executive toys running Microsoft Vista like molasses.

    FOSS has made it possible to create these machines and circumvent Microsoft's near monopoly, because if any of these companies had asked Microsoft to keep XP going for ultralights, Microsoft would have told them to go f*ck themselves. FOSS has also made it possible for these companies to design and sell $400 machines.

    And the motivation for it all has not been that people begrudge Bill Gates his collection of 19th century gold plated toilet plungers, but the fact that people want choices and free markets in software and hardware. All Microsoft has to offer is a gigantic marketing budget and Stalinist central planning.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is not thanks to FOSS, but thanks to Negroponte who thought that cheap PCs could be produced.
      We know how much Microsoft and Intel tried to stop the OLPC project...
      • by erikina (1112587) <eri.kina@gmail.com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:33PM (#23801413) Homepage
        It gets tiring seeing the same arguments over and over, so I'm not going to rehash the arguments in Intel's favor.

        On a side note, no matter how you look at it - your hero Negroponte sold out. It's amusing how on their website one of the "5 core principles" is open source software. And to much acclaim, they publicly refused to use Mac OS (which was offered for free) and then turn around and license XP. (Oh yeah, and disagreements with Negroponte is the reason Intel walked away)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by colmore (56499)
          Don't know much or care much about the man, but OLPC has been a good example of how (in everything) great tech isn't enough to solve a problem. The lack of teacher training and software interfaces designed for those totally unfamiliar with computers have (temporarily, one hopes) held the project back.

          But still, even if it hasn't been the revolution for every single kid that it was dreamed to be (and given the kind of rhetoric surrounding the project -- there's no way it could fully live up to expectation.
    • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:09PM (#23801257) Homepage

      FOSS has made it possible to create these machines and circumvent Microsoft's near monopoly...

      I'm not sure FOSS made their existence possible, but it certainly made this price differential possible:

      The Wind appears to be solidly constructed out of hard plastic--unlike some early mini-laptops, which feel about as sturdy as a Styrofoam mini-cooler. At 10 by 7 by 0.8 inches, the Wind resembles some pricier portables--enough so that the list price of $399 (or $499 for the Windows XP version) seems like a bargain. Wait a week and we'll be able to tell you whether it's worth the money.

      Computerworld [computerworld.com]

      The mini-notebook phenom has most definitely highlighted the Windows tax on computer hardware. And it's nice to see examples of having that price differential clearly illustrated. And that's the way it should be. If you feel having Windows adds $100 of value to your notebook, by all means go right ahead and fork over the $$$.

      • The mini-notebook phenom has most definitely highlighted the Windows tax on computer hardware./blockquote> Since Windows is *optional* on these notebooks I think calling it a Windows *tax* is no longer warranted. FWIW, I strongly suspect that for only $100 more, many (most?) will opt to purchase Windows on these devices. But I agree with you ... making Windows optional is the way it should be. From my perspective, I hope each flavor garners about half of the market so the competition remains stiff. That

      • The important thing to note is that the Linux-based Wind has a smaller battery, no Bluetooth, and less RAM. So there's a good bit more there than the price of a Windows license.
      • by dcam (615646)
        For some people that tax is very visible.

        I just replaced my 2 parents computers over the weekend. Of the ~$485 (AUD, which are now roughly equal to USD), $109 was XP Home OEM. The proportional cost of windows is growing massively.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Not to its full potential, though...

      Why wouldn't you put a different CPU in an UMPC? Sure, an Atom CPU is low-power, but it's also held back by the x86 architecture. Drop that, and you lose binary compatibility (a small loss for this application) in exchange for even better battery life. An UMPC based on ARM, Mips or low-power PPC core could be even more awesome than one based on Atom.

      I can understand that people want x86 compatibility, even for a small UMPC running Linux. But with this market explodi
      • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:26PM (#23801899)
        "Drop that, and you lose binary compatibility (a small loss for this application)"

        Sell THAT idea to people who want the convenience of running the same binaries on all their machines.
        What do you think makes small x86 computers so popular?
      • by colmore (56499)
        Google around for Linus' statements on Itanium.

        He's pretty fond of x86, and takes the perspective (pretty obvious one for him if you've looked inside the Kernel) that a collection of hacks and cruft like you see in the intel instruction set is the sign of good engineers dealing with problems that don't come up in theoretical exercises.

        Aside from the fact that x86 is a conceptual mess, do you have evidence to back up you aversion to the architecture? Intel is bending over backwards (in their own interest to
    • by mseeger (40923)
      Hi,

      here in germany, they don't sell the Asus EEE PC with Linux. The only available version is the XP version with 12GB Flash and it costs 600$ (400 Euro). It seems that Microsoft has "convinced" Asus not to ruin their market here.

      An unhappy Martin

      • by mseeger (40923)
        Correction: They don't sell the 900 with Linux. Only the 700 is available with Linux. You can dualboot the 900 with Linux, but you have to pay for the XP :-(
    • by cmacb (547347) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:34PM (#23801997) Homepage Journal

      And the motivation for it all has not been that people begrudge Bill Gates his collection of 19th century gold plated toilet plungers, but the fact that people want choices and free markets in software and hardware.
      I find it disgusting that people continue to pick on Bill Gates and his enormous wealth. Don't forget that he not only *invented* the PC, but also wrote most of the software that runs on it.

      Furthermore, he is devoted full-time now to charitable works, such as providing 19th century gold plated toilet plungers for Africa!
  • Outdated chipset (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niko9 (315647) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:20AM (#23800875)
    It worries me that the chipset consumes more power than the CPU itself. Since my
    Thnkpad X40 sub note book is working just fine, I guess I'll hold off until the next revision of the Atom
    platform is released and then reevaluate.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Your next computer will be faster, smaller, cheaper, more memory, better graphics, consume less power, be quieter and whatnot. I guess all I conclude was that you already have a good machine in this category and isn't in the market for a new one yet. I agree it has potential for improvement but I'd be very concerned if it didn't. To me it sounds like a very good machine available now (or close to).
    • Re:Outdated chipset (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aliens (90441) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:35AM (#23801015) Homepage Journal
      What difference does the power drain of the chipset make if it still gives you 7 hours battery time?

      Sure, a lower wattage chipset would give you more, but what exactly is there to worry about?
      • by mkcmkc (197982) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:04PM (#23801223)

        What difference does the power drain of the chipset make if it still gives you 7 hours battery time?
        You might as well ask why we invaded Iraq if Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan. You liberal types just don't know when to shut up...
        • by bgfay (5362)
          So what if Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan. We all know that Saddam Hussein planned 9/11. Right? That's what Bush/Cheney/Fox told me. And they would _never_ lie.
      • by niko9 (315647) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:56PM (#23801593)

        What difference does the power drain of the chipset make if it still gives you 7 hours battery time?

        Sure, a lower wattage chipset would give you more, but what exactly is there to worry about?

        What difference does the power drain of the chipset make if it still gives you 7 hours battery time?

        Sure, a lower wattage chipset would give you more, but what exactly is there to worry about?
        The difference is if Intel had mated the Atom CPU with a more apropos low power chipset you would be paying
        same amount of your hard earned money for an ultra portable that had maybe 14 hours or more of battery life.

        Imagine that. A sub note with close to 20 hours battery life, much like the Tandy 100.

        As of now, the Intel Atom is mated to a 3-4(?) year old 945 chipset. Sounds like something was missed here.
        • by diamondsw (685967)
          If Intel had waited for a low-power chipset to be ready, then we wouldn't have the Atom at all in the meantime, and you'd be getting a 3 hour battery life. It's coming, but Intel has said it's just not ready yet.
        • Laptop!=cpu+chipset. There is that big screen thingy with its drivers and backlight,RAM and the Flash - which still needs power to write and read. Then there is the analog audio drive, the wireless modules, and probably a load of other stuff. A laptop consists of two main parts that dissipate heat partly through ducted air and partly through convection from the surface. Cutting the CPU power may reduce the fan load quite a lot, but the fan is there mainly to remove heat from a very small, very hot area. A l
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by abirdman (557790)
          The Tandy 100 had no storage (plug in a cassette tape if you want to run or save a program), a 300 baud (maybe went up to 1200 baud) modem with cups that fit over the phone handset (which are no longer common), something like 256K of RAM, and a 24 x 8 character text only display. No network. No storage, no lighted display, no mouse, no pointing device or any kind, no USB ports, no sound, no wireless, no network software. They stopped making them because people stopped buying them. Sure the batteries lasted
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:23AM (#23800913)
    That is for Asus to sell the Eee without an OS so we can avoid the Microsoft tax. [xandros.com]

  • Reviews are hitting the net for the first Intel Atom-powered netbooks

    If it really were atomic-powered, we wouldn't have to worry about battery life.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:49AM (#23801099) Homepage

    Combined with the lean and mean Linux OS, performance is snappy and responsive. With 1GB of RAM in support you can even have two or three programs open at any one time and not encounter any major problems unless you want to watch video,
    With one gig of RAM, you can even run two or three programs at once... Not that I long back to everything, seriously WTF it's what I ran on my desktop a few years ago and I had a lot more than that running. Looking at my memory stats 4GB is overkill and 2GB would do, and I got... 20 applications open including a virtualbox version of XP which itself runs 4 apps.
    • A few months ago I was going video editing on my desktop system, running Firefox2 (you know how much memory that takes!), and had amarok playing in the background.

      Everything was working fine. No hiccups or anything.

      A few weeks later the system died. When looking for a compatible motherboard and CPU for an upgrade, I was shocked to rediscover that my "workhorse" computer only had 512 MB of ram.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The Atom processor is specifically designed to do one thing at a time, for low-end applications such as the Eee and the E-box. It is a very low-powered single-core chip. So, yes, the fact that it can actually handle a little multitasking is something to take note of.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gbjbaanb (229885)
        but we've had multitasking since the pentium first appeared. Not only that, the Atom is a hyper-threaded CPU, so really you could say its designed for multi-tasking.

        I think the point was that modern apps are so hungry for resources that you need lots of RAM and CPU, whereas we got the same stuff done with significantly less only a couple of years ago.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by colmore (56499)
          Modern web pages do in fact require that a whole lot of information be kept in memory (or swap). Other apps don't have as much excuse, but a browser can really only be as lightweight as the content you are browsing.

          Also modern OSes expect a lot of extra memory and use it to do things like constantly maintain a search index, preload common software, run auto-defragging filesystems, and so on and so forth.

          You engineer a computer differently when you have gigs of memory. There's an appeal to having a pile of
        • by snuf23 (182335)
          I was using preemptive multitasking just fine back in 1987 on an Amiga with 1MB of RAM.
          • Man, those were the days. Yours must have been an Amiga 1000. I got mine a bit later--an A500--that I eventually maxed out with 1MB internally, and another 2MB with an external memory module.

            I used to do 3D animations, and I would set up the parameters for each frame, then run multiple instances of the rendering program to run overnight. One at a time, I'd get a frame about every two hours; four at a time, I'd fire it all off before going to sleep, and I'd have four frames waiting for me in the mornin
  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Where is TOUCH SCREEN?

    WHERE is Pixel Qi - Dual Mode battery saving Screen technology and 1 watt system use?
    http://www.pixelqi.com/
    (love the Pixel Qi products page with PaperWhite Screen Tech being worked on by them that uses very little power)

    Where is OLPC like $10 user anywhere replaceable battery?

    If DELL does the Pixel Qi stuff first, bye-bye Asus EeePC...
    http://www.pixelqi.com/blog1/
  • Why a VGA port? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cannelloni (969195) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:09PM (#23801261)
    Very cool, but why not DVI? That's insanely stupid.
    • Business users still require VGA for presentations on old projectors. DVI can do both, but it requires an adaptor or special cord, and is more expensive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      That's insanely stupid.

      It sounds really stupid to me to have a DVI port, and not a VGA port. Why? Because there's a lot more VGA compatible hardware out their than their is DVI compatible hardware.

      The small advantage of slightly better graphics output doesn't really outweigh the disadvantage of having to either have an adapter (that people will likely forget or lose), or use a display that supports DVI.
    • by 10Ghz (453478)
      Nano also consumes a lot more power, so the two CPU's are not really comparable. While Atom consumes about 1-4w, Nano consumes about 20w
  • by 1 a bee (817783) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:15PM (#23801305)

    The rate at which hardware prices are dropping is simply breathtaking. Consider it from the seller's angle: a $500 drop in price from say $1500 represents a 33% drop in revenue; a $500 drop in price from $1000, on the other hand, represents a 50% drop in revenue. This wreaks havoc on a lot of business models--and of course, creates a lot of new ones.

    Looking at this price trend, it seems like every home will soon be littered with a lot of portables--some fairly new, others, say, one or two years old. There might be one on every coffee table, you might throw one in the bathroom, as well as the one in the bedroom, and so on. Managing and maintaining the software on all these devices will be a chore.

    In an article [faunos.com] I co-wrote for the FaunOS project project, we argue that making the boot device detachable and largely hardware agnostic is an attractive solution. The idea is that users carry and maintain only a single copy of an operating environment which they can run on pretty much any device of their choosing. That way, the user accumulates and maintains know-how on a single evolving operating environment rather than having to duplicate that effort across multiple machines. Does this makes sense?

    • by David Jao (2759)

      making the boot device detachable and largely hardware agnostic is an attractive solution. The idea is that users carry and maintain only a single copy of an operating environment which they can run on pretty much any device of their choosing. That way, the user accumulates and maintains know-how on a single evolving operating environment rather than having to duplicate that effort across multiple machines. Does this makes sense?

      It makes sense, but the implementation leaves something to be desired. In this day and age, an operating system or operating environment is not viable for everyday use unless it has timely and usable mechanisms for installing, reporting, and keeping track of security updates. The problem is that very few [distrowatch.com] linux distributions provide this kind of infrastructure, and of the ones that do, none of them is small enough to fit on a boot device.

      What I want to see is something like FaunOS where security updates

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)
        an operating system or operating environment is not viable for everyday use unless it has timely and usable mechanisms for installing, reporting, and keeping track of security updates

        "Yum update" does that for me. Sure, I don't much care about security updates as I download all the updates regularly. Same with my Windows box, it tells me it wants to update something, so I let it. I don't actually know what it does but it keeps fixing this "critical" and "important" security update all the time.

        Now maybe the
        • by David Jao (2759)
          Again, "yum update" works wonderfully on Redhat and similar systems, but yum is not included in FaunOS. The entire problem that I'm trying to point out is that none of the USB-key based linux distributions include an easy mechanism for security updates, and certainly none of them make the issue of security updates very much of an organizational priority to the degree of mailing lists, bug reporting, and so on.
      • by colmore (56499)
        $sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade

        there are gui frontends out there too. synaptic seems popular. personally if i'm not working with graphical data, i don't use a gui, but i'm a coder so my experience sure isn't the norm.

        now it might not have that Norton guy's smiling face on it, but it's what you're talking about.

        anyway, your combination of agressive ignorance and good grammar makes me think you're being paid to spread old-school IBM style FUD. please go away.
        • by David Jao (2759)
          Nice try at a troll, but the entire problem is that FaunOS doesn't include apt-get. I am not aware of any apt-gettable distributions that even install onto a modest sized USB key, let alone one that deals well with being moved from machine to machine on a daily basis.

          In addition, merely including apt-get is not the whole story. There needs to be a community in place to report and respond to security issues. There needs to be a commitment towards maintaining older versions, because not everyone enjoys upgr

    • How about just make the devices run a VM and just keep copying the VM? I think VMware ACE or Player would help in this regard. Maybe I misunderstood your intentions.
  • Wifi-N? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chill (34294) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:18PM (#23801315) Journal
    Maybe I missed a memo, but so far all I've found for WiFi-N support on Linux is "legacy mode" where it falls back to B/G. Is there real, MIMO and bonded WiFi-N under Linux for either the Intel or Atheros chipsets?
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:24PM (#23801349)
    Even though modding projects like JKK's [blogspot.com] caused 7" touchscreen add-ons to sell out within weeks when the first Eee PC came to market last year, making clear this should be a built-in feature, unfortunately it is missing from the new edition nonetheless, though the review for some reason neither discusses nor deplores its omission.

    Anyone coming e.g. from a Psion or Nokia Communicator will know what a difference a touchscreen makes on small devices, and would surely have appreciated it at least as an option.
  • by zaivala (887815) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:32PM (#23801405) Homepage
    What bothers me is that ASUS is no longer committed to Linux, and the 901 is the last Eee that will feature Linux as the preferred OS. I'm waiting for other companies to bring out an Atom, and also waiting for Ubuntu to finish their notepad version of 8.04 to run on one of these... which should be very soon.
    • by diamondsw (685967) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:12PM (#23802319)
      Um, the 1000 runs Linux, and on a 40GB SSD too. If anything, their commitment to SSD is waning, evidenced by the 1000(H) with an 80GB hard drive.
    • by Wonderkid (541329)
      a) MS are very effective lobbyists, often paying vendors to install their awful OS so they can then charge users for all those silly upgrades - not to mention the huge aftermarket in security/anti-virus utilities. b) MS aside, people seek solutions - and if a killer Linux/Web app appears, then people will order their EEE PC (or other mini laptop) with their preferred OS. Truth be told, in an era of web apps, it's the browser that really counts. I own a 7" EEE PC (black of course) and it's so useful having a
  • I'm pretty allured by these things, but I sort of had my heart set on playing with an OLPC machine. I just love the idea, and who knows, I thought I might find something in the software to help develop or improve.

    If AMD can't put out a competitor to Atom, I hope Negroponte decides to go with Intel for the next version of OLPC. I also hope that high volumes could get the prices even lower than $600. But... yeah, I'm definitely intrigued.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:06PM (#23802843) Journal
    Well, ASUS made good on their announcement to remove the ASUS logo from upcoming models of the Eee PC. This is, apparently, the first step towards spinning off the Eee PC as a separate company.

    My opinion? DUMB! ASUS are having the much-envied iPod moment - and they're just throwing it out of the window. The Eee PC is doing/could have done wonders for ASUS' brand name, just as iPod did for Apple's. Too afraid of success, I guess? Nicer/safer to be a mediocrity?

    For the record, I am a very satisfied Eee PC 701 user. Toss it into my backpack and go riding my bike to the uni - can't even feel the little critter.
  • I loved the idea of little linux notebook for $300. But a $750 notebook just does not seem that exciting.
  • Just how does the performance of this thing compare to the old celeron based model? is it faster or are they sacrificing even more performance to impvove battery life.
  • by mrgsd (668128) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:52PM (#23806307)
    The return of the infamous turbo button!

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