Just a few short years ago, the Consumer Electronics Show was flooded with netbooks. Tablets and ultrabooks seem poised to steal the ultraportable limelight this year, which is perhaps why Asus is announcing a handful of new netbooks before the show begins. Enter the Eee PC Flare, a 10.1" system based on Intel's new Cedar Trail Atom CPUs.
Asus is rolling out two versions of the Flare: a 1025C model equipped with an Atom N2600 running at 1.6GHz, and a 1025CE flavor with a faster N2800 CPU clocked at 1.8GHz. The 1025CE has a single USB 3.0 port, while the 1025C must make do with USB 2.0 connectivity. Otherwise, both systems stick pretty closely to the netbook formula. In addition to a gig of RAM, they come with 320GB of mechanical storage, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Windows 7 Starter, and a maximum display resolution of 1024x600. Sigh.
Although the new Eee PCs offer fewer pixels than most tablets, they should have competitive battery life. Asus says the Flare 1025CE manages just over 9.5 hours of run time, while the 1025C pushes past 10 hours. Both systems are supposed to be able to survive two weeks of standby time on a single charge.
As expected, these new netbooks are pretty cheap. The 1025C is set to cost $299 when it debuts in February alongside the CE, which will set you back another $20. If you're in the market for a budget ultraportable, though, you'd do well to check out the 12" Eee PC 1225B. This system popped up on Asus' website late last year, and it's also due to arrive in February—but at $399.
$100 buys you more of, well, everything. The 12" panel offers a 1366x768 display resolution with 71% more pixels than a 1024x600 screen. Under the hood is AMD's E-450 APU, whose integrated Radeon should run circles around the Atom's built-in GPU. The 1225B also serves up a pair of USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth, the Home Premium version of Windows 7, and 2GB of RAM. In exchange for those extras, you'll have to lug around a slightly larger system that weighs 3.1 lbs. The 1225B's battery life is limited to six hours, as well.
At least that's better than the Eee PC X101CH, which will run for a mere four hours before you're left searching for a wall socket. This Cedar Trail 10-incher is similar to the Flare 1025C but trades battery capacity for a thinner chassis that weighs just 2.3 lbs. The X101CH will cost $269 when it arrives with the other Eee PCs next month. Sometimes less is less, I suppose.