We just put the finishing touches on our full review of the Eee PC 901 12G XP, so we called ASUS to ask for final U.S. pricing. Our rep at ASUS was kind enough not only to give us an MSRP for the 901, but also pricing for the 1000 and 1000H series. However, he was careful to note that the prices for the 1000 series are “estimated and subject to change,” meaning that ASUS may adjust the amounts before release, but that this is their current plan.
While our rep told us U.S. specs are not 100% final for the 1000 series, we know from ASUS’ release at Computex that the 1000 series will sport a 10″ screen, the same CPU, and probably 40GB of SSD storage (as opposed to 20GB on the 901 and 900). The 1000H will be similar to the Eee PC 1000, except it will carry an 80GB hard drive instead of an SSD. To be fair, ASUS is not alone in its pricing as one of its main competitors, the HP Mini-Note starts at $499, but goes above $700 if you add the good stuff like a 6 cell battery and a 7,200 rpm drive. But as more mini-notebooks creep above the $599 mark, we have to ask: at what point do they become too expensive? At $599, the Eee PC 901 is clearly more expensive than a budget 15.4-inch notebook and, at a potential $699 price, the 1000 series is riding into mid-range notebook territory. Why just today we saw that Dell is selling a 15.4″ Vostro 1000 for $399. Heck, you can even get a ThinkPad R61e for under $550 at this moment. So, clearly, if you just want an inexpensive computer and don’t care about size, most mini-notebooks are not for you. You can get more storage, more processing power, a higher resolution screen, and a spacious keyboard for either the same or a lower price than most mini-notebooks. Really, though, you shouldn’t compare mini-notebooks to budget notebooks when you’re looking at prices. A mini-notebook isn’t meant to be your main computer; it’s meant to provide you with an extremely portable device for getting online and doing some other basic, but frequent tasks. Mini-notebooks are actually a huge bargain when you compare them to ultraportables like the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 (over $3,000), the MacBook Air ($1,800+), or the Lenovo IdeaPad U110 ($1,899). Sure, an ultraportable offers you a lot more functionality than a mini-notebook, but you can get the long battery life and small size of an $1,800 computer for over a thousand dollars less if you’re willing to make some trade-offs.