Review: Asus EEE PC 701 4G notebook computer

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Hardware

Although notebook computers are cheaper today than ever before, it's still rather unusual to see one for sale for less than £350.

What's more, cheaper notebooks tend to be rather similar: most have a 15.4in widescreen display, and although they're fairly powerful very few are light enough, or have a battery good enough, to be really portable.

Asus's oddly-named Eee PC, then, is rather unusual. Not only is it a complete notebook computer that costs just £220 including VAT, but it's both tiny and portable. There are several things that might put potential buyers off choosing the Eee over a conventional computer.

Firstly, its size can be troublesome: the Eee is tiny and when closed, it’s not much larger than two DVD cases stacked together. This makes it easy to fit into even the most cramped travel bag, but it also means that everything about the notebook is similarly small.

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Electronista has received its own XO notebook from the One Laptop Per Child project and is about to put the notebook for the developing world through tests to see whether it works well for its stated goal of bringing computers to those who may never have used (or seen) a computer before -- as well as whether the small Linux-based system can co-exist with a world of more complex Mac and Windows PCs. So far, the device is promising and even shows a relatively Apple-like simplicity, but may almost prove too simple for some purposes.

When setting up even the simplest mainstream notebook PC can be an involved process, the XO is something of a shock.

OLPC's XO: early hands-on