When we first laid eyes on the Asus S101 netbook, we wept, such was its beauty. When we learned Asus was working on a slightly larger, 12.1-inch, ultraportable version, we began to well up yet again. We're sensitive types.
The S121 is adorned with the same glossy 'brown infusion finish' as its predecessor, and has the added bonus of a wrist rest swathed in genuine leather. The Swarovski crystals seen on the S101 make a reappearance too, except they're set into a redesigned hinge designed to look like a pair of gentleman's cuff links.
The S121's components seem to match its looks. It can be equipped with hard drives of up to 250GB in size, but, more interestingly, it can also be kitted out with the world's first 512MB solid-state disk drive. These, developed by a third-party vendor, offer data-transfer rates that Asus said are twice as fast as existing models, thanks to some clever disk-controller technology.
Other specs have more in common with netbooks than ultraportables. It uses an Intel Atom Z530 CPU running at 1.33GHz, up to 2GB of RAM, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a four-cell battery. Unfortunately, the S121 lacks 3G broadband support and, despite being twice as fat as a MacBook Air, it doesn't have an optical drive, either.
The S121 was demonstrated with a copy of Windows 7 at consumer tradeshow CES 2009, but will first ship with either Windows XP, Vista Home Basic or GNU Linux. If you want one and you've got $1,650 (£750) going spare (yes, that's quite a lot of money), then look out for one launching in the next three months or so. UK availability and pricing have yet to be announced.
The S121 is larger than the S101, and is therefore more comfortable to use for long periods of time.
The wrist rest is clad in genuine leather, which is good news if you're a fashionista and bad news if you're some kind of... vegetarian.
Swarovski crystals are embedded into cuff link-style hinges. The effect is a lot more subtle than you'd imagine, and is very stylish.