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Is the Eee PC still an impulse purchase?

The Eee PC 900 is $550--still cheap, but a big jump over the original model's $399.

Is $499 the Netbook sweet spot?

If computer stores were like supermarkets and had a rack of impulse purchase items right by their checkout lanes, we could easily see the $399 Asus Eee PC sitting next to the candy bars and magazines. After all, for about the same price as a current-generation video game console, you get a smart, reasonably useful 7-inch laptop, for much less than the traditionally inflated prices of other ultraportables.

Of course, we always want a little more, so the Eee PC had to grow, adding a larger 9-inch screen and more SSD hard drive space. Now that we have got our hands on the new version, called the Eee PC 900, it's a definite improvement over the original (check out our full review here), but we're left wondering if the new features are worth the trade-off in price that's driving Netbook-style laptops higher than the $500 mark and blurring the lines between them and traditional bargain laptops.

The Eee PC 900 is $550--still cheap, but a big jump over the original model's $399. We could see picking up a $399 minilaptop for a trip or a birthday gift on the fly, and even $499 might work if we're feeling particularly flush that week, but once you pass the psychological barrier of $500, it stops being something you can justify on the go and becomes a major personal infrastructure upgrade that must be weighed, considered, justified, and often, submitted to the spousal approval process.

Is the $550 Eee PC too far over the line? Is the $500 mark an important psychological boundary? What's your price limit for impulse tech buys? Use the handy commenting system below to let us know.