Netbooks at $200? These Systems Continue to Surprise


As JKOnTheRun is reporting, Asus president Jerry Shen has told DigiTimes that consumers can expect a $200 netbook in 2009. Asus, of course, was one of the pioneers of the now very fast-growing netbook category, with its diminutive Eee PCs, some of which now sell in the $300 range. At $200, some web workers and others may find these systems attractive.

While many web workers typically own full-powered notebooks without having to make compromises, I got one of the first Linux-based Eee PCs when it first came out and have been using it ever since. These things are not to be written off.

As JKOnTheRun notes, at $200, broadband service providers may very well subsidize the cost of a netbook in order to attract users to their service plans. That’s not always a bad deal, as has been true for some of the subsidized cell phone contracts.

Beyond that, though, I have come to like the extreme light weight of my Asus Eee PC for tasks such as reporting from an event (I wrote on one when I was at Macworld), or reading things upstairs in my house when I don’t feel like going downstairs. It’s Wi-Fi enabled, so it ends up cruising all around my house. I also like the fact that if I do something like spill water on the keyboard of my regular laptop, I won’t be out of commission.

The key compromises I’ve found with the Eee PC are the keyboard and the display. I have big hands, so I don’t write extended material on it, but I don’t have a problem with short articles or e-mails. I got my Eee PC before Asus upped the sizes of the screens. The display sometimes annoys me when I’m browsing and have to do things like scroll to the right. This is better on the newer netbooks.

The way to think about these things is to realize that they’ll probably never become primary systems in your working life, but they can be useful as adjuncts, and for dedicated types of online tasks. If you haven’t tried one yet, you can try the Asus Eee PCs at Target stores. You may be pleasantly surprised.



I completely agree with Steve, the eeePC 1000H is a gem, worth every cent! I have been told that performance can be improved if you double the RAM.

Steve Turner

Just bought an eeePC 1000H over the weekend, and I’m loving it already. I agree with others who’ve complained about the size of the earlier model eees — I tried them but couldn’t justify their use based in the tiny keyboard.

But when the eeepc 1000 was released, I tried it and was impressed — it strikes the perfect balance between small size and weight while being big enough keyboard-wise to be useful. Typing is fine, and the screen is big enough.

Everything else seems fast enough — I want it mainly for writing tasks, but it seems like it should be fast enough for other uses too. It’s only been a short while, but happy with it so far.


In Britain, Vodafone are already offering a netbook as an incentive for a £25 ($50) a month mobile data contract. The next generation of netbooks are going to have mobile antennas built in so you can just slot a mobile SIM card in and it’ll hook straight up to the mobile data network.

As for typing, I couldn’t use one of the smaller Eee machines. I bought an Acer because the keyboard is pretty damn awesome. The trackpad isn’t so good, but I spend most of my life at a terminal window or in Vim, so that’s not a major concern.

My MacBook Pro has mostly given up the ghost – it certainly can’t be used as a laptop any more, and it is a bit rickety for everything. I have another Mac available for doing anything that requires some iron, but for all intents and purposes, my Acer is now my primary machine. And I am very happy with it. As I said, so long as it has a bash terminal, vim, Firefox and VLC, there’s not much more that I do need.

A. Acevedo

In recent months I went shopping for a netbook at a high profile Manhattan vendor on Madison Avenue and 56th street. I think that the staff may be discouraging people from buying them due to the limitations inherent in the systems, and the fact that their business’ profit will obviously suffer when selling a product that costs a fraction of their higher end notebooks. I noticed that the store originally had the price of the netbooks posted in the window, but that they took the price tags off of all of the netbooks in their store a few days later. I think that consumers need honest, in-depth reviews on these new gadgets, in order to make a educated decision on whether to “writ[e]… them off” or not.

Regarding Chris Ritke’s above post: I agree that “video isn’t everything”, but I do consider smooth video play the to be the great divide between great internet access tools, and mediocre ones. For example, the firmware on the PSP Slim & Lite (PSP 2000) doesn’t allow for any sort of functional flash video play at all. Until Sony steps up its game, it will be left in the dust by Apple and other competitors with regards to internet capable mobile devices.

Chris Ritke

What worries me about these things is how they play video. I can’t watch full screen flash videos on my pre-Intel Mac Mini. The processor goes to 100% and the video just won’t play continuously. The fan on my Core2 PC goes crazy when I watch movies on Hulu. Video isn’t everything, but it’s really important for me. Especially since I don’t have (or want!) a TV. Gonna have to go to Target and check it out. Thanks for the tip!

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