Asus' S121 is another netbook-notebook 'tweener'

Like MSI's X320, the Asus S121 may have a bit of an identity crisis going on, but Asus seems content to shake up the ultraportable laptop space with this little system. The S121 is part of Asus' regular notebook lineup; it's not an Eee PC. Yet it is based on an Atom processor, the almost standard-issue netbook CPU.

The S121 features a decidedly upscale 12.1", LED-backlit display with a transreflective coating and 1280x800 resolution, and it weighs in at about 3 lbs. Like the MSI X320, the S121 uses Intel's lower-power Poulsbo chipset, and like MSI, Asus claims its Poulsbo-based notebook can accept up to 2GB of DDR2 memory. Connectivity options include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Gigabit Ethernet. Battery life is a claimed eight hours. In all of these dimensions, the S121 should be very competitive with traditional ultraportables.

Asus makes clear the S121's high-zoot pretensions by selling an optional configuration with a 512GB SSD for the breathtaking price of $1649. This SSD is not your Eee PC's sluggish storage, of course. Asus estimates the S121's performance-optimized solid-state disk is three times the speed of one of those. Fortunately, the S121 comes in more afforable (dare I say sensible) configurations, including one with a 128GB SSD for $1099 and another with a 1.8", 250GB hard drive for $899.  For an ultraportable with that feature set, those prices sound (dare I say it?) almost reasonable.

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