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Summary:

ASUS Taiwan recently confirmed plans to deliver its eagerly awaited Eee PCs to the U.S. in November, and even though the company is targeting the devices squarely at the education market, they may end up challenging the pricing model for all portable computers. When rumors began […]

asus21.jpgASUS Taiwan recently confirmed plans to deliver its eagerly awaited Eee PCs to the U.S. in November, and even though the company is targeting the devices squarely at the education market, they may end up challenging the pricing model for all portable computers.

When rumors began swirling in the blogosphere a few months back about the Eee PCs, they were equated with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) systems, and were expected to sell for under $200. And much as the prices of the OLPC systems have risen to just under $200 from a previous target of $100, ASUS has said the Eee PCs will come in three different models, ranging from $299 to $399.

So ASUS didn’t hit what was purportedly its lowball price target, but still, a portable computer for under $300? In my book, that qualifies as an impulse buy. Compare that price to some of the other new miniature PCs, which Web Worker Daily rounded up recently. The much ballyhooed new Nokia n810 Internet Tablet, for example, is $479, while the OQO Model 02 starts at $1,299. Of course, those have features that the Eee PCs are unlikely to have.

Ahead of the PC’s launch, ASUS provided the following detail:

“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.”

Open-source fans will be pleased to hear that the Eee PCs will have Open Office, so users will be able to produce documents, spreadsheets and presentations compatible with other productivity applications. Photos of the systems confirm that they have a GUI OS, and they are described as ideal for movies, music, videogames and pictures. Videoconferencing, VoIP calls, and instant messaging will also apparently be doable.

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Although the exact chips being used haven’t been confirmed, the ASUS systems have Intel (INTC) processors, as well as 7-inch LCD displays, and Ethernet and 802.11g Wi-Fi networking options. Local storage will be Flash-based and will top out at 8GB.

These may sound like kiddie PCs at this point, but miniature, inexpensive portable computers are a hot category right now, and it’s tough to buy anything for under $300 that will give you access to the most popular types of applications. Might the Eee PCs be holiday hits, or make it into the hands of kids who can’t afford computers? Those are possibilities, but one of the most interesting things to watch as these systems arrive will be the effect they have on pricing for other portable computers. At under $300, the low-end Eee PCs will be much cheaper than other Windows-based miniature computers.

  1. If the wifi add on is not expensive I could see some solid sales for this thing. For people who are coffee shop web freaks it would make for a portable web browser.

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  2. I see two big factors:

    1. Which ‘GUI OS’ it’s running.
    2. What’s the hobbyist potential and how open are they?

    They do seem promising.

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  3. Re the first two comments:
    1. wifi is not an add-on
    2. the OS is Xandros

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  4. Will Low Cost Ultra-Portables Affect High End Mobile Prices?

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  5. I’m actually pretty interested in this device as a secondary computer. I’m checking it out at the Palo Alto launch event and will hopefully get some hands-on time with it.

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  6. Jesse Kopelman Friday, November 2, 2007

    Eee PC came in costing $100 too much precisely because of companies like Nokia pricing their competing offerings so high. Hopefully, more competition makes one of these guys blink — triggering a chain reaction. $300 is a good price point, but it’s too high for the cheapest model. To really spur interest, there needs to be entry level devices at $200 and lower.

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  7. [...] This interest in OLPC can be loosely explained by buyers’ desire for a simpler, lighter, and less complicated, computing experience that offers connectivity and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This is good news for device makers like Nokia (NOK) and Asus, both of whom recently started selling cheap Internet-connected devices. [...]

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  8. [...] of November already brought several key challenges to both desktop and notebook pricing models. Asus’ Eee PC line includes $300 and $400 notebook computers stocked exclusively with open-source software. Meanwhile [...]

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  9. [...] $250. The Atom brand name replaces Silverthorne as the code name for the low-power chips aimed at ultra mobile PCs, and Diamondville, which was the code name for the chips in lower-end laptops. Both chips will be [...]

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  10. [...] Stacey Higginbotham, Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 5:00 AM PT Comments (0) Between the laptop and the mobile phone lies…something. Intel and Qualcomm may differ on what that something is, but both firms have determined to tap into growth — real or imagined — in the ultramobile PC space, following on the heels of device makers ranging from established players such as HP and BenQ to smaller ones like LimePC and ASUS Taiwan. [...]

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