Ultra-portable notebooks are almost always expensive, while budget notebooks are too often large and heavy. Asus’ tiny Eee notebook, however, serves as a counter example. The OEM has kept the price down by using a 7" screen, minimal memory and storage - and installing Linux rather than Windows. That means that the PC 701 model with 512 MB of RAM and a 4 GB solid-state drive is only $400 and the 256 MB/2 GB PC 700 will retail for $300 when it comes out in January. That’s an ultra-portable PC for not much more than the cost of a video-capable media player.
You may see lower prices from educational suppliers, and different brands, too. We looked at the RM miniBook, which is the PC 701 for the school market. Asus expects the majority of demand for the to come from the educational sector and developing markets. And rather than presenting a bare-bone Linux system, Asus offers a set of applications and a friendly interface based on Xandros that hides the Linux underpinnings almost completely. But you can switch to a "full desktop" mode where you can install your own applications; and with OpenOffice, Google Documents, Firefox and Skype to start, the has the potential to be a very portable option for any PC user. If you don’t want Linux, Asus provides instructions for installing Windows XP and will sell a version of the with XP pre-installed next year.