Asus Eee PC 901 review: Asus Eee PC 901

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Battery life: 9.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Much-improved battery life; new mouse and quick-launch buttons; still highly portable and reasonably priced.

The Bad Slightly bigger than the Eee 900; price is creeping up to the full-size laptop range.

The Bottom Line The long-awaited Asus Eee PC 901 is the best version of this inexpensive Netbook yet, but it's facing increased competition from the likes of HP, Dell, and MSI.

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Editors' note, October 27, 2008: We have revised the rating of this product to reflect the changing competitive Netbook landscape.

Editors' note: On July 16, 2008, we updated this review to correct errors in our performance charts.

We've been impressed by the Asus Eee PC line from the very first 7-inch model in the fall of 2007, and it seems as if every time we turn around, there's a new version hitting store shelves. This 9-inch version, the Eee PC 901, comes mere months after the substantially similar Eee PC 900, adding a few items to features list, another $50 to the price, and, most notably, Intel's new Netbook-focused Atom CPU.

The $599 Eee PC 901 is the best version of this inexpensive laptop yet, thanks to its fantastic battery life and design tweaks--including better touch pad mouse buttons and new quick-launch buttons. Like the Eee PC 900, it offers a choice of Windows XP or Linux operating systems and has a reasonable 12GB (20GB in the Linux version) of solid-state hard-drive space.

While the Eee was the first consumer Netbook on the market, the competition hasn't been idle. Hewlett-Packard now has the excellent 2133 Mini-Note, Dell is working on a Netbook-style laptop, and MSI's oft-delayed Wind is gaining buzz as an Eee-PC killer. Now priced at $600, the Eee PC suddenly finds itself in the same category as budget mainstream laptops, which offer faster processors and much larger hard drives, but not the portability and battery life of the Eee. To keep up with the competition, Asus will have to double down on either price or performance in future versions of the Eee PC, or face being squeezed out of a market it almost single-handedly created.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $599
Processor Intel Atom 1.6GHz
Memory 1GB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz
Hard drive 12GB solid-state drive,
Chipset Intel GMA950
Graphics Mobile Intel 945 Express Chipset
Operating System Windows XP Home Edition SP2
Dimensions (WDH) 1.6x9.0x6.9 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 8.9
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.5/3.0 pounds
Category Netbook

The new Eee PC is marginally larger than the first 9-inch version, the Eee PC 900, and our review unit had a glass black finish, rather than the white, pearlized plastic look of the three previous Eee PCs we've reviewed. The Eee PC is still incredibly small, about the size of a trade paperback book, a size that until recently was only available in high-priced ultraportable laptops or even higher-priced UMPCs.

The touch pad now has two distinct mouse buttons, as opposed to the rocker-style left/right switch on previous Eee PC models. The touch pad still supports the gesture controls (similar to those on the MacBook Air and Pro) first introduced on the Eee PC 900. Images can be pinched and unpinched with the thumb and forefinger to zoom in and out, and two fingers can be used to scroll up and down Web pages.

The keyboard, with its tiny UMPC-size keys, is still hard to use for expended periods, but we do like the new row of quick-launch buttons that sit above the keyboard, for turning off the display, scrolling through different screen resolutions, switching between power-saving modes and launching Skype.

The display is the same 8.9-inch one on the Eee 900, with a decent 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is much easier to use than the 800x480-pixel resolution of the original 7-inch Eee PCs.

  Asus Eee PC 901 Average for category [Netbook]
Video VGA-out VGA-out
Audio headphone/microphone jacks headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

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Where to Buy

MSRP: $279.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul. 11, 2008
  • Operating System Linux
  • Installed Size 1 GB
  • Color fine ebony
  • Weight 2.4 lbs
  • CPU Intel Atom N270 / 1.6 GHz
About The Author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.