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Asus' Eee PC 4G sub-notebook

The ultimate budget sort of notebook

We spend a lot of our time here at TR evaluating cutting-edge hardware, but not because we're particularly drawn to extremely expensive components. Rather, it's the fact that new technologies tend to debut at the high end before trickling downstream to more affordable mid-range parts. We also spend a great deal of time playing with those mid-range products, combing through their ranks in search for that perfect intersection of price and performance—the glorious sweet spot.

It's a little odd, then, to be sitting in front of Asus' Eee PC sub-notebook. With a Celeron ULV processor chugging along at 630MHz, GMA 900 integrated graphics powering a 800x480 display, 512MB of RAM, and just 4GB of internal storage capacity, the Eee PC's specs are hardly awe-inspiring. In fact, this may be the first system we've ever reviewed that's slower than Jessica Simpson.

And unlike Jessica, the Eee PC isn't a knockout, either. So at first blush, it's a little hard to see what all the fuss is about. Sure, the system may be a fine option for developing nations and Ugandan schools, but its appeal for enthusiasts isn't as obvious.

I assure you, however, that it's there. After a few weeks of quality time with the Eee PC, I'm absolutely sold on the concept and pretty enamored with Asus' implementation. Keep reading to see why.

Size really does matter
Asus cops Apple's all-white aesthetic for most Eee PC models, which at least in my mind, makes the system look like it belongs in a hospital or dental clinic. Years ago, PCs were ripped for being boring and beige, and this is supposed to be progress? Fortunately, the Eee PC can also be had in black. White models with pastel green, blue, and pink top panels are available, as well.

More important than the Eee PC's visual flair is the device's diminutive size. Measuring just 225mm wide, 165mm deep, and up to 35mm thick (8.9" x 6.5" x 1.4" if you prefer multiples of the king's forearm), the Eee PC very much resides in sub-notebook territory. Seriously, it's tiny.

When closed, the Eee PC's footprint is comparable to that of two CDs, which makes it easy to shove into a bag, purse, or even some larger jacket pockets. Since the system tips the scales at just 920 grams (barely more than 2lbs), it's not a chore to lug around, either.

Opened up, the Eee PC looks even smaller. Granted, my years-old 14" laptop is hardly a sub-notebook, but it absolutely dwarfs the Eee PC. The difference in size is worth more than just bragging rights and portability, too. When crammed into economy class in an airline, there's rarely enough room to even open my laptop, let alone to get a decent angle to view the screen straight on. And that's before the idiot in front of me decides to recline his seat without warning. This isn't a problem with the Eee PC, whose modest proportions easily squeeze into tight spaces.