Update: Despite messages to the contrary on the RM.com Web site, Crave has been assured by RM that the miniBook can be bought by individuals outside of educational institutions.
The £169 laptop is here! It's still known as the Asus Eee PC, but will also be sold by RM, under the name RM Asus miniBook. We got the chance to play with one yesterday and are now completely smitten.
Those following the miniBook's progress will know it has a 7-inch screen, a Mobile Celeron-M ULV 900MHz, 256MB of RAM, 2GB solid state hard drive 802.11g Wi-Fi, integrated webcam, microphone and speakers, and an optional 3G module for getting online wherever you are. This version -- plus a £199 version with a 4GB SSD and 512MB of RAM -- are available to order now.
One of the reasons for the miniBook's ludicrously low price is the fact it doesn't use Windows -- it's Linux-based. It comes with a copy of Open Office, plus you can install any amount of open source software that in most cases work just as well as their off the shelf counterparts. If you really can't live without Windows, the miniBook's fast enough to run Windows XP.
We've got some lovely pictures of the miniBook/Eee PC in action over the next few pages. We suggest you click through to take a look.
Update: Aof the Asus Eee PC 701 is now available. -Rory Reid
There's no RM branding on the RM Asus miniBook, just an Asus logo. As you can see it's very stylish-looking and is almost reminiscent of an Apple MacBook.
The right side of the laptop has (from left to right) a memory card reader, two USB ports, a D-Sub video port and a Kensington Lock Aperture for chaining it to a desk.
The left side is home to an Ethernet port, 56k modem jack, another USB port and a couple of audio output jacks for connecting a mic and headphones.
Here's the palm rest in all its glory. The mouse trackpad is pretty small, but so's the rest of the laptop. To the right you can see status lights indicating power, charging status, hard disk activity and Wi-Fi status. Note: the Taiwanese keyboard will be swapped for a UK version when it hits these shores.
Since the miniBook uses a solid state hard drive, it should be pretty resilient against bumps and shakes. This guy takes it upon himself to test the theory. For the record, the laptop survived.
The machine weighs less than 1Kg. It's nowhere near as light as the, but you can comfortably hold it on one hand as you type.
Built into the top of the screen bezel is a webcam. We doubt anyone would make use of it, but it gives you the ability to video conference or take Myspace-style self-portraits.
The only real problem with the miniBook is the fact the keyboard is so small. You'll be fine if your hands are petite, but if you've got man-sized brass bands you may struggle when touch-typing.