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Asus Eee PC: £199 Linux laptop

Asus has been overdosing on innovation cookies again -- it's unveiled a £199 mini laptop known as the Eee PC 701, which has a solid-state drive and runs on Linux

Asus has been eating the innovation cookies again. Not content with releasing punchable, scratch-proof monitors, the Taiwan-based company has unveiled a £199 laptop known as the Eee PC 701.

The 'Eee' signifies "easy to learn, easy to play, easy to work". It's a half-UMPC, half-laptop hybrid which measures 225x35x165mm and weighs a paltry 690g. Its 7-inch display looks similar to the one on the Asus R2H Ultra-Mobile PC, but there's also a 10-inch version planned -- good news for the short-sighted.

The Eee PC is based on Intel's Classmate PC prototype -- the parallel effort to the One Laptop Per Child PC. It uses an 'old' Pentium M clocked at 900MHz, accompanied by 512MB of RAM. Other interesting specs include 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, a 4GB, 8GB or 16GB solid-state hard drive, 56K modem, 10/100MB Ethernet, a 0.3-megapixel video camera and four USB ports -- that's more than many full-size laptops.

The Eee PC uses a Linux-variant operating system that is said to require only 15 seconds to boot. Windows XP has been omitted in order to cut costs, but Microsoft die-hards should note that the Eee PC can run Windows XP. It'll ship with Open Office, Firefox and Skype, plus you can install any number of other open-source applications.

We love this thing -- £199 for all that functionality? It puts £700 UMPCs in the shade, doesn't it? Asus hopes to sell around 700,000 units this year, and our name is on at least one of those. -Rory Reid

Update: A review of the Asus Eee PC 701 is now on the site