Pros: Small and light; good screen; Excellent trackpad
Cons: Keyboard is cramped; Only one USB port; No DVD drive
Bottomline: A small and light alternative to a standard notebook, which can be carried around without any inconvenience
Vista compatibility: No
Buy it online at:
The new Eee PC 900 replaces the 701 4G model. Although it's bigger – with a 9in screen replacing the 4G's 7in – it's still a tiny notebook and only weighs as much as an average hardback book.
It comes in a pearl white, a colour that can make some notebooks look garish and loud, but that fits with the 900. Combined with the size - about the size of a ladies handbag magazine – it's worth asking whether Asus is pitching this product directly at women.
Powering it up took less than a minute, which is largely due to the fact that it doesn’t have a lot on it. It runs Windows XP (unlike its predecessor which used Linux) but has Microsoft Works rather than Office, a more basic suite with a word processor and spreadsheet. It also comes with Star Suite, which is a re-branded version of the free Openoffice, a decent alternative to Microsoft Office, and some movie playback software, which would have been useful if the notebook actually had a DVD drive: anyone who wants to watch DVDs will have to plug in an external DVD reader.
Being a small notebook we were a bit concerned that the smaller keyboard, screen and mouse trackpad would make it hard to use, but this was not the case. The 9in widescreen (1,024x600 pixels) was crystal clear and didn't have any problems with reflection. In fact it was so clear that we completely forgot how small it actually was when we were working on it.
The keyboard is, understandably, a little cramped, but is fine to type on with its responsive, springy keys. The trackpad was even more impressive: it’s bigger than average, responsive and smooth. The left and right mouse buttons are also big enough to make it easy to click on one without accidentally pressing something else. We were also impressed with the clear, loud volume from the stereo speakers; a nice bonus for such a small computer.
To keep the weight down the Eee PC 900 comes with a removable rechargeable battery. Fully charged, it lasted for around three hours in general use.
The notebook can connect to standard wired and wireless networks and it has an integrated webcam, which (at the other end) showed us clear and bright. There also is a SD card slot that can be used to expand the PC's storage space with a digital camera memory card, as well headphone and microphone sockets. Unfortunately there's only a single USB port, something that will be a hassle for those with lots of things to plug in.
There's 1GB of main memory and 12GB of storage, and the processor is one of the cheaper Intel Celeron models. It might not have as much memory or power as a standard notebook but given its size it did very well on performance. Add to that the small proportions and this notebook is a bargain for £350. That's £130 more than the original, though, so if you don't need Windows or the larger screen, the Eee PC 701 4G might be a better buy.