ASUS recently released their Eee PC. It is a laptop that emphasizes computing for everyone. It is small (tiny), unbelievably light, energy efficient, cheap, and it runs Linux. Actually, it can be all of these things because it runs Linux. A Windows Vista computer would require more big and heavy energy-sucking hardware. Plus, you’d have to pay the expensive Windows tax.
There are two important reasons why the Eee PC is revolutionary. First, it is ridiculously portable. It weighs less than 2 (two) pounds. That’s less than a kilo. Based on my experience with the XO-1 OLPC laptop, you hardly notice its weight in your hands. Most so-called “portable” laptops offered by other manufacturers weigh at least 3-4 pounds. Most laptops in general weight 5.5+ pounds. Moreover, it’s screen has a 7″ diagonal. It takes up hardly any space. You can almost throw it in your pocket. Despite its size, it still sports a complete, usable QWERTY keyboard and an acceptably high-resolution screen.
Check out a picture for comparison (courtesy of Cliff)
The second reason why the Eee PC is revolutionary is that it is cheap. While one of the 3 pound ultraportable laptops other manufacturers offer can cost you upwards of $3000 (!!), the Eee PC costs in the range of $400. Additionally, the ultraportables would be bigger, heavier, and clunkier. Portability carries a premium, and this laptop is the most portable released so far. Yet, it doesn’t have the ridiculous price tag of other ultraportables.
Now, of course, it’s not a perfect comparison. The Eee PC has a lower-resolution screen due to its small size, and the processor isn’t very fast, but it is more than useful enough to run a web browser (Firefox), a word processor, and instant messaging. I would personally love it just to be able to run Firefox and SSH anywhere I want without lugging around a 6 pound mess.