Remember the fantastic Asus M10 -- the 10-inch netbook that could run 3D games and high-definition video? Asus has been working on a successor, with a larger, touch-sensitive display.
The M20, as it is to be known, packs a 12-inch WXGA screen, which unlike most machines of its type, responds to touch inputs from a stylus or your own fingers. There's no multi-touch capability, so you can't do any fancy iPhone-style pinching or stroking, but the system does make it easier to scroll through documents, switch between applications and -- more importantly -- show off to others when you're on the train to work.
We had a quick hands-on with the machine and our best experience came when running Google Earth. Stroking our fingers across the map triggered the panning function, and a double tap of the screen allowed us to zoom in on our chosen location. Our worst experience came when we tried to use Asus' AI Touch software, which (when it's not crashing miserably) gives you fingertip access to multimedia files.
Aesthetically, we found the N20 had much in common with the N10. Its 1.8kg, 303mm by 225mm by 31mm chassis is larger, certainly, but it inherits the the premium aesthetic, which made its forebear so attractive.
The whole thing is based on Intel Core 2 Duo architecture with either T9400, T5850, P8600 or P7350 CPUS, up to 4GB of RAM, 250GB or 320GB of disk space, super-multi DVD or Blu-ray disc drives, and built-in 3G -- but only in selected, as-yet-unnamed territories.
Have a look at the images then judge for yourself. You'll know pricing and availability as soon as we do.
"If you've lost the stylus, you can always use a part of your body to poke and stroke at the screen." That's how we roll.
And here's the lid, which like the one on the N10 is very shiny and prone to collecting fingerprint smudges.