asus eee pc x101When Asus unveiled the Eee PC X101 this morning there were three remarkable things about the 10 inch netbook. First, it was thinner and lighter than most laptops with 10 inch displays. Second, the netbook will be available with a choice of Windows 7 or MeeGo Linux. And third, the Eee PC X101 will be one of the cheapest netbooks available with a target price of about $200.

But now that more specs are available, it turns out that Asus isn’t just keeping the price low by using open source software instead of paying for a Windows license. The company is also taking a page out of it’s 2008 playbook and offering the MeeGo Linux version of the Eee PC X101 with a small battery and very little storage.

The base model will have an 8GB solid state disk and a 3 cell battery.

If you take the netbook label seriously and plan to spend most of your time surfing the web and running web apps, 8GB might be more than enough. But if you want to install apps to your local storage, carry around music or movies, or store important documents on your mobile device, it may not take very long to fill up the 8GB SSD.

Asus will also offer an Eee PC X101H with a 250GB or 320GB hard drive and Windows 7. But that model will cost more and it will also be a little thicker than the 0.7 inch X101. The Eee PC X101H will measure 0.87 inches thick.

The 2.1 pound weight Asus is promising for the notebook is also only for the base model. The X101 will likely weigh a little more (and be a bit thicker) if you opt for the optional 6 cell battery, and I suspect it will drive the price up as well.

No matter which configuration you get though, the mini-notebook has a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, support for up to 2GB of RAM, and an Intel Atom processor. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card reader, a headset jack, and a 0.3MP camera. Asus says that netbook has 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bluetooth is just an option… which probably drives up the price of the $200 netbook.

It’s still pretty impressive that Asus is launching a mini-laptop with a starting price of under $200. That’s something the company promised to do 4 years ago and never quite managed to pull off. But it turns out that tomorrow’s $200 Asus netbook looks a lot like the company’s $400 models of yesteryear with 8GB of storage, Linux-based operating system, and an Intel Atom processor.


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35 replies on “There’s a reason the $200 Eee PC X101 will be so cheap”

  1. The new chip has a TDP of 5W. The old N450 has a TDP of 5.5W

    So much for improvement. To add salt to injury, its a 3 cell battery. Even if it last 2 hours, you are lucky

  2. There is still a place for a netbook in my opinion.  Small cheap computers are a good idea, and an idea unlikely to go away. I do not think my sister would survive if both kids did not each have a netbook to play with.  That keeps the kids off the family machine, and keeps them out of each other’s hair.  Less fights with two netbooks in the house, and less worries about the kids breaking the iPad too. 

  3. Umm, I need more than an 8gb SD card stuck into an adapter and called an SSD.  Other than that though, this looks great…  I hope it’s easy to get at the internals so I can upgrade the things I don’t like.  Can’t wait to see a review.  Hopefully the keyboard is nice to type on.

    1. There is a sizable bottom panel that’s larger than just RAM access would require.

      No one has opened it up yet to see though and we don’t know what kind of 8GB is installed.  Could be a SD card like you suspect or it can be a soldered SSD or could be a small mSATA card or traditional Flash_Con SSD.

    2. From the specs:  “MicroSD card reader”  “802.11n WiFi” “Two USB 2.0”

      Between local storage and your own file server and the cloud you should have plenty of room.  With a USB port you can even make backups or plug in a huge external drive. With a $20 USB dongle you’re on 100 Mbit Ethernet. Really nothing to complain about for $200.

  4. This sounds like old hat to me. Haven’t we seen this before? 

    I actually still own and use, almost daily, an EEE 900A. Remember the 900A? With the paltry 4g slow as heck ssd and xandros linux? The only reason I still have this thing at all is that I was able to make it serviceable by a.) installing ubuntu 10.10 on it which runs pretty well and; b.) i was able to find a replacement 16 runcore ssd for dirt cheap. 
    Even though this sounds like 4 yrs ago, they might just be on to something here. That is if MeeGo keeps up with support unlike xandros did with that 900A. Otherwise these will just end up on ebay, woot, etc…and all the linux fanboys (me included) will be buying them up dirt cheap to load up linux flavors of their choice….wait, that would be great actually. 

    I guess I’m intrigued after all 😉  

    1. Yeah, at the very least I’m hoping cheap SSDs today are a bit faster than the cheap SSDs from 2008 and MeeGo is much more promising than the version of Xandros Asus went with originally. 

      This *could* be very cool. But it might also just be a way to get bragging rights for the first $200 netbook. 

  5. No real improvement in terms of weight and portability. Its around 900g in weight for a crappy 3 cell, so with a 6 cell it would be 1.2Kgs.

    But arent most netbooks in the market now at 1.25Kgs?

    No wonder why people are buying 600gram tablets

    1. System still uses Pine Trail series Intel ATOM, which means 45nm for the CPU but 130nm for its supporting chips.  So component costs are still relatively high compared to the newer gen 32nm hardware coming out later.So the usual balance between weight, performance, and price results in less than ideal weight to performance ratio but the key point they were going for was the low price.Considering netbooks once went up to ~1.45kg though that systems available down to 900g is pretty good weight reduction and is comparable to some Windows PC tablets that don’t deal with the weight for things like the keyboard, which is one of a couple of reasons not to directly compare tablet weight with laptop designs.

      1. we can’t compare the 3 cell weight of 900g. Nobody wants a crappy 3 cell.

        1. What do you think is running low powered solutions?

          Give a 6 cell battery to an ARM tablet and you can get 20 to 40 hours run time.

          The 1.33GHz N435 is a low powered ATOM solution, so despite getting a 3 cell it’ll still give more run time than the same battery in a regular 1.66GHz netbook.

          Besides, we’re comparing weight and like I told you before the battery is usually what gets sacrificed to get weight down.

          1. Hrm – you two have got me re-thinking.  I had been impressed by the ca. 900g weight of the 3-cell System76 Starling, but looking at the Liliputing product database, I see that the 10″ netbooks there have weights ranging from 1.25 to 1.4 kg.  Apples to apples, are all these 6-cell models?  I haven’t been able to get a spec from System76 as to how much weight their 6-cell battery option adds, but if Michaelpaulpenang’s comments are correct (and if those weights _are_ all for 6-cell models), then a 3-cell version of any of these would indeed be around 900g.  (I had, I guess, assumed that manufacturers would advertise the lightest weight possible, even if it’s only applicable to a strippo 3-cell version.)  Of course, I still probably _would_ want a “crappy 3 cell” model, because I value light weight (and not having the battery sticking out like a tumor, as the Starling 6-cell battery does in a photo I saw from a review a couple of years back) and don’t need a netbook to do much heavy lifting anyway.  However, if CyberGusa is correct that the N435 would use much less power than (say) the N570 in the Starling, then a comparison might more reasonably be made between a 3-cell X101 and a 6-cell random Windows netbook than my apparently erroneous comparison between a 3-cell Starling and said 6-cell models.  Brad — _are_ the weights for 10″ netbooks in the database for 6-cell models?  Or can you confirm that there are other 10″ netbooks offered for sale with 3-cell batteries and weights around 900g?

          2. Yes, typical weights of netbooks are given with 6 cell batteries these days.  Since 3 cells would barely give them over 3 hours of run time in most cases.  So you usually only see 3 cells in either lower cost systems and/or lower performance systems that don’t need as much power.

            A 3 cell, 4400mAh, battery for say the Eee PC 1015 series model netbook weighs 315.56g for example.  So a 6 cell would about double that, a little more for the higher density batteries as not all 6 cells are equal, and you can subtract that from the given system weight to get a better idea of what the system actually weighs if not for the battery.

            Other examples include, say the Lenovo Thinkpad X120e that weighs 2.9 pounds with a 3 cell and goes up to 3.3 pounds with a 6 cell.  So the battery is usually a good chunk of the weight.

            The old Eee PC 1000HE, with a high density 8700mAh battery (other 1000x models got 6600mAh) pushed the 10″ weight for netbooks to 3.3 pounds but the newer ultra thin models give equal to better run time with significantly less weight and lower cost.

            Btw, the mAh ratings can be misleading unless the systems use the exact same voltage and only the Whr are really accurate comparison of battery capacities.

            Batteries are also not cheap and the higher the capacity the more it cost system makers.  So besides weight, they also limit battery size because of price range they want to sell the system at…

            Like the Asus Transformer Keyboard Dock, it cost $150 when a bluetooth keyboard can be gotten for much less but the dock also contains a battery that can double the Transformer’s run time and that’s a good chunk of the reason why it winds up doubling the weight of the system to 1.3kg when docked.

            Unfortunately, battery technology is the one thing that has really not improved much in over a decade…

          3. Dont even bother with a 3 cell battery no matter what people say. No matter how low energy this new Atom consumers,it would last no longer than 2 to 3 hours. And manufacturers lie. They often quote their weightbased on a 3 cell even though they sell the 6 cell.

          4. Actually, two or three hours would suit my purposes fine; I’m mostly concerned with weight (and Linux-ability) here. So you’re saying those 10″ netbook weights of 1.25 to 1.4 kg (2.7 to 3.1 lb) in the product database are for 3-cell models. CyberGusa (below) quotes 2.9 lb for a three-cell THinkpad X120e, and in poking around a bit I found the HP mini 210 3-cell model at 2.6 lb. To ask a specific question, then: does anybody know of a 10″ Atom netbook besides the System76 Starling and Eee PC X101 that weighs only 2.0 or 2.1 lb (less than 1 kg) in 3-cell trim?

          5. The X120e is a 11.6″ system but I used it to show the weight of the battery. For a netbook example for weight, the  Eee PC 1015PX is marked down wіtһ a
            3-cell battery to weigh in аt јυѕt 1.1KG and wіtһ tһе 6-cell battery
            іt’s јυѕt over tһе 1.24KG mаrk.  So 1.25kg and higher are for the 6 cells…

            For anything closer to the 2 lb mark…  Malata announced they will be making a system based on Intel’s Canoe Lake ultra thin reference design. 


            So that should be lighter than any other 10″ out right now but not sure when it’ll be out and where it will be sold or pricing.  Though can’t rule out another company might not decide to make it too.

            Generally though those x86 systems that would come close to 2 lbs at 10″ size systems will be pricier than regular notebooks and/or use even lower performance components.  Smaller systems will of course tend to be lighter but for the same performance the price goes up.

            Though you could always grab an old sub 10″ netbook off ebay…  There is also the Edubook, low performer and not sure on weight but it should be pretty light and doesn’t come with Windows either and price point in similar to the X101…

            But of course there are very few choices that don’t come with Windows…

          6. Yes but this is not an ARM tablet. Its an Atom machine. How sure are you that the N435 is so much better than the current N450 in real life?

            Personally, I think in real life, its no better than the N450. On paper, people will claim the world. So, you might just get a donkey 2 to 3 hours from a 3 cell.

          7. The N435 is 330Mhz slower than the N450 and as you can see from the case design and system specs that the system is more stripped down than a typical N450 system.  Like it only has 2 USB ports instead of the normal 3.

            All of which means the system will use less power than the higher clocked 1.66GHz N450, and also generate less waste heat that should make it a little more efficient.

            Other differences, only the X101H runs from a hard drive. So the X101 is using a lower power usage Flash drive, either a SD card or low cost SSD that means it uses less power than the typical N450 system which by standard use hard drives.

            Add the low resource OS of Meego vs the more resource demanding Windows that normal netbooks runs and yes, I’m pretty sure the run time of this system will be longer than regular netbooks with the same battery.

            A ARM system would have even less power requirements, for even more run time, but also would provide less performance and won’t let you have the option to run x86 operating systems.

            Downside, lower power usage also means the N435 will provide less performance than the N450 but that’s the usual trade off.

          8. The N450 is already super slow. So how are people going to use the N435 then? Its unworkable.

            An ARM device, you ask me, though on paper may seem slow,but when you use it, its super fast. The ipad 2 is super fast. All this ghz and mhz is all bull. Real world usage, ask anyone, the ipad 2 or any Android device is so so fast. And that is what people want. Nobody is interested in numbers. With the exception of you that is. Real world people want to do their work fast and the Android and ipad 2 devices fly. They don’t hang and they beat any x86 OS flat.

          9. Netbooks in general are slow but that doesn’t stop people from using them.

            While the X101 is running Meego, not the more resource hungry Windows 7.  So gets a similar benefit as many ARM systems get from running a lighter OS.  But, while 1.33GHz means less performance than the 1.6GHz N450, people have used systems with even slower Intel ATOM’s like some of the lower end Z5xx series that were used in quite a few lower power systems like UMPCs.

            As for ARM, you’re not factoring the fact Android and iOS are basically Smart Phone operating systems.  They don’t need high performance to be speedy like more powerful operating systems require.

            Really, run Windows 3.1 on a netbook and it’ll be lightning fast too.

            And let’s be clear modern regular linux, Windows, and OSX are far more powerful operating systems which you can do far more with than Android or iOS.

            Perception aside, mobile devices still don’t get used for much more than about 19% of all the things people do with computers.  So its apples to oranges because Android and iOS don’t get used for as many things as more powerful operating systems do and the perception on speed is lopsided without considering the capabilities and resource requirements of the operating systems.

          10. People want fast systems, that is progression. No point going back in time. So getting a donkey 1.3Ghz system in today’s world is heights of stupidity. Especially so when dual core Atoms are out and they are so smooth to use.

            Your 19% figure is data obtained from surveys which are always influenced by ulterior motives and profit. Ask anyone using an ipad and they will tell you,it fullfills ALL their mobility needs. When you travel and on the move you are not going to use CAD or edit videos. People do that in a relaxed office or house with their powerful quad core systems.

            99% of people on the move just check emails and surf the Internet. All those surveys are just bull. Only a geek would edit video or do CAD in a Starbucks care.

          11. Who’s going back, Meego will run faster than Windows 7 and people have been buying netbooks for years.  Nothing new about their performance.

            And no, my 19% was not optioned with ulterior motives.  Fact is mobile devices can’t do a lot what regular computers can do. Like even with web browsing, there is a difference between what you can do with a mobile browser and a normal desktop browser.

            But that’s okay because they’re intended to be mobile and you have to make compromises to be mobile.

            So let’s not confuse perception with facts!

          12. One can do everything with a mobile browser. That was 5 years ago when mobile browsers only could open WAP editions of a given web page. Nowadays, all mobile browsers can do full HTML. Infact on an Android 3.0 Motorola Zoom, the browser is exactly the same as a desktop browser.

          13. False, mobile browsers are still more limited than desktop browsers.  Most tablets still don’t have Android 3.0 but even if they did it’s still not the same as a desktop browser, it’s only more similar now, and the difference is great enough that products like the Motorola Atrix runs a Virtual Machine of a custom Linux so it could run a full version of Firefox.

            Never mind the poor Flash support, which Apple still refuses to support at all.  And even Android 3.x is still a work in progress as they slowly fix things like SD card reader support, etc.

  6. I sure hope the one with better specs will not  be available with Windows only and that I will also be able to select MeeGo preinstalled. I definitely don’t want to pay more Microsoft taxes. if I don’t even want to use their software but I sure want to use the nice hardware.

  7. Would be nice to know what exactly is covered by the $200 price.

    How much RAM for example?
    What would be the battery runtime for the 3-cell battery?

    1GB RAM with 8GB SSD and a full-sized SD slot + a 6-hour battery runtime would still make a good offer.

    However, the exact same with Tegra2 and a 10-hour battery would make it more appealing.

    1. The Tegra 2 Toshiba AC100 that came out last year started out close to $500, not counting the over priced imported units, and even now the price is well over $200. 

      ARM may be technically cheaper to make and can run on less power but how they price the systems include larger profit margins than netbooks.

      Though after Tegra 3 comes out later you might see some Tegra 2 options at more affordable pricing.  Keep in mind though you won’t be able to install any x86 OS…

  8. I’m not familiar with MeeGo Linux at all; however, my previous experience with “user-friendlified” Linux, the HP MIE that was installed on the Mini 1000 I had a year or two ago, was very brief, as it took me about five minutes to realize that it was emasculated.  Does MeeGo have command-line access and the ability to install commonly-available software like gcc, which MIE lacked?  (I don’t need heavy-duty number crunching, just the ability to code and debug while flying coach — can’t open the lid of a MacBook Pro there!)  I installed Ubuntu on the HP Mini, but had the usual hassles with networking; I’m not anxious to have to scrounge for solutions to obscure symptoms again.  Can I get under the hood in MeeGo, or should I just get a System76 Starling?  2.0 pounds with 3-cell battery, much larger storage, _and_ designed for Ubuntu, but at twice the price.

    1. MeeGo has a larger community than the MIE software that came with the HP Mini, and I’m pretty sure you can do some command line stuff, although you might have to do some tweaking to get there… but it also depends on how Asus implements MeeGo. 

      MeeGo offers a set of Linux-based tools which can be incorporated into other Linux distributions. There are builds of Linpus, SUSE, Fedora, and other operating systems that use MeeGo’s user interface and other code. 

    2. I believe the MeeGo interface is pretty standards based (unlike Android) so you should be able to install and use most Linux software (like Open/LibreOffice, GIMP…etc).

    3. That’s a great question – and I can’t answer it – but I do have a Starling 1 and absolutely love it to this day. I’ve written quite a bit of Python on it (using good ole Idle), used OOo modestly, and browsed with both Firefox and Chrome with no problems at all. I also recently upgraded to 10.04 when the original Ubuntu version ended support, and it Just Worked.

      So, if you are hesitant on the MeeGo device, I’ll recommend the Starling without hesitation.

      You can read my review at ricegf dot com.

  9. Given that it has latest Intel chipset and CPU Im pretty sure its more than just yesteryears technology. Longer battery life than EEE 701 and more powerful, shouldnt it be?

  10. I am extremely impressed by this machine. You can tell when a company is doing it right when you have a burning desire to purchase their product even when you don’t need it.

  11. If Asus makes it with a 32 GB SSD and 2 GB Ram, I could use it to my mobile needs. Until now my next Eee PC will be the Pad Transformer.

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