Asustek's Eee PC finally became available for purchase in the United States this week, although at a higher price point than initially expected. The machine costs $399.99, and from what we hear, Asustek intends to introduce $299.99 and $349.99 variants of the system in the future.
Of course, the burning question on users' minds isn't necessarily how much the machine costs, but whether it actually delivers on Asustek's promise of being simultaneously small, cheap, usable, and speedy enough for web browsing and basic multimedia tasks. The system has been picked apart and reviewed by the folks at Hot Hardware, PC Perspective, and Trusted Reviews, and the answer seems to be affirmative.
All three sites have a positive verdict, with the machine earning PC Perspective's Gold Award and Hot Hardware's Editor's Choice award. The Eee PC reportedly succeeds in being both speedy and quiet, thanks to its Intel processor and solid-state drive, while its built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet capabilities make it a worthy contender for mobile browsing. In addition, all three reviews applaud the Eee PC's extensive suite of Linux-based software, which includes Skype and an open-source media player capable of chewing through videos in formats like Xvid. For users who aren't so much into Linux, Asustek provides the necessary drivers to let them install Windows XP.
In short, HotHardware sums up, "Does the Eee PC live up to the marketing spin and hype? In our not-so humble opinion, the answer would be a resounding "yes". For around $300 - $350 you get a fully functional, well equipped, highly portable PC that is reliable, responsive and just works. You also get a boat-load of software, games and utilities for your money, thanks to the open source initiative surrounding the Linux community in general."