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.

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