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Nine-inch Asus Eee PC 900 details unveiled

Officially called the Asus Eee PC 900, expectations are high for the new version.

We've been spillinga lot of virtual inkabout the popular 7-inch Asus Eee PC lately, but the real buzz is about that system's follow-up, a slightly bigger 9-inch version Asus has been teasing us with since last year.

It's now officially calledthe Asus Eee PC 900, and the first reviews are starting to trickle out in the U.K., where the system has a set release date of May 1, although we don't have an official U.S. price or release date yet.

According to Asus, the new system adds more than just a larger display. The most interesting new feature is something called FingerGlide, essentially a version of the mouse gestures used in Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, where you can use two fingers in a pinching movement to zoom in and out of images.

Like the current 7-inch Eee PC, the new model will come in both Windows and Linux versions, but the hardware is a little different depending on which operating system you choose. The Windows version has a 12GB flash-based hard drive, while the Linux version has 20GB--we suspect the difference is so Asus can offer both versions for the same price while offsetting the cost of a Windows XP license.

The new 8.9-inch display has a native resolution of 1,024x600, which is a big improvement over the original's 800x480 screen. The CPU is still the same 900MHz Intel (non-Atom), but the RAM has been bumped up to a more reasonable 1GB, from the original's 512MB.

The 7-inch Eee PC sold more than one million units in its first five months, so expectations are high for the new version, especially with Delland HP offering new competition in the suddenly hot netbook market. We expect the Eee PC 900 stateside sometime in May for about $500.