Asus Eee PC 900 review:

Asus Eee PC 900

Typical Price: £329.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars 7 user reviews

The Good Multi-touch mouse trackpad; 8.9-inch display; decent storage.

The Bad Tiny keyboard; no integrated optical drive.

The Bottom Line The Asus Eee PC 900 is a likeable update to the Eee PC 701. We're disappointed its keyboard is still so difficult to use, but the addition of a larger, high-resolution screen, multi-touch mouse trackpad and better storage gives it the edge over just about all of its rivals

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8.3 Overall

The Asus Eee PC 701 has earned a permanent place in history. It almost single-handedly defined the sub-notebook -- a genre of PC that made slow, inexpensive laptops the hottest properties in the computing world. Many have tried to emulate its success, and most have failed miserably, so it's left to Asus to push the envelope with a new version its product.

Step forward the Eee PC 900. This brings with it several improvements including a high-resolution 8.9-inch screen, more storage, more memory, a multi-touch mouse trackpad and an improved webcam. In other words, it's a far more attractive proposition even than the original. But is it enough of an evolution to stave off competition from its rivals? Let us know what you think in our Asus Eee PC 900 forum.

The Asus Eee PC 900 will be available on 1 May for around £329. 

The Eee PC 900 isn't too different to its predecessor, at least aesthetically. In comparison to the Eee PC 701, it's still ivory white and is still the size of a hardback book. It is, however, 6mm longer than its predecessor and approximately 100g heavier. The speakers that sat on either side of the screen have been removed to accommodate the larger panel -- an arrangement that immediately makes the laptop more attractive.

The larger screen size and higher resolution means most Web pages now fit perfectly on the display

The speakers now live at the bottom of the laptop below the wrist rest -- an arrangement that adversely affects sound quality, particularly if you're using the Eee PC 900 on your lap. We'll forgive it this oversight, however, because the quality of the speakers on the original Eee PC 701 was rubbish in the first place.

We rather hoped the Eee PC 900 would have a larger keyboard than that of the 701, but that isn't the case. We still had the same trouble typing on it as we did before and had to adopt a four-finger -- index and middle finger -- approach to typing instead of our standard all-action, all-digit touch typing. It slows you down, but you'll get used to it after extended use.

The mouse trackpad is now in a wide aspect ratio and supports multi-touch gesture input

The mouse trackpad has been improved, and notably so. It now has a wide aspect ratio to match that of the screen, meaning your finger inputs will more closely mirror what's possible with the on-screen cursor. The left and right selector buttons have also been improved. They now sport a silver finish and are easier to press.

Best of all, though, is the addition of multi-finger input, often referred to as multi-touch. The trackpad now lets you scroll horizontally and vertically through documents by swiping two fingers up or down across the surface of the trackpad. You can also zoom in or zoom out of pictures by making pinching or stretching movement with your fingers -- just like on a MacBook Air.

The selection of input-output ports on the Eee PC 900 is identical to that of the 701. The left side consists of an Ethernet port, a single USB port, and mic and headphone jacks. The right is home to a D-Sub VGA video output, two additional USB ports and an SD card reader. The latter can accommodate third-party SDHC cards for up to 32GB of additional storage. Larger cards are expected to emerge in due course.

The aforementioned 8.9-inch display isn't simply for making the laptop look nicer. It's also of a very good standard. It runs at a native resolution of 1,024x600 pixels, which is significantly higher than the 800x480-pixel screen on the old 7-inch model. The quality of the display is also commendable, especially given the price of the laptop. The vertical viewing angle is a little limited, so you'll need to adjust the horizontal tilt to get the picture just right. Still, the horizontal viewing angle is wide enough to allow two users to watch a DivX movie side by side in relative comfort.

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