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Atom-powered Asus Eee PC hits the lab

We check out the Asus Eee PC 901.

The Asus Eee PC 901 and 900.

It seems like every time we turn around, there's a new version of Asus' popular Eee PC Netbook. After the initial 7-inch Linux and Windows versions, we saw the 9-inch version, and now we've finally gotten our hands on the Eee PC 901, featuring Intel's new Atom processor. (Of course, now there's the 10-inch Eee PC 1000, as well).

As we previously pointed out, this system has a 1.6GHz Atom CPU from Intel, replacing the now-dated Celeron M. Compared with the previous Eee 900 model, you can see that this new version (in black) has a slightly larger footprint, is just a little thicker, and features a much more prominent hinge, revamped mouse buttons (with two separate buttons, rather then a rocker-style button), and a row of quick-launch buttons right above the keyboard. Also notable: The Asus brand has been almost totally erased, with the Eee PC brand now featured on the back of the lid and under the display.

Note the branding switch from Asus to Eee.

The Eee PC 901 should be available in the U.S. shortly, at an expected price of $599. That's a big bump from the original 7-inch model's $399 price, but besides the increased power and functionality, we suspect the weak dollar is having an impact on inexpensive products like this coming over from Taiwan.

The Asus Eee PC 901 is undergoing testing in the CNET Labs right now, so check back for our full review later in the week.