The Asus Eee PC Effect Just Got Bigger

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I am of the view that the Asus Eee PC represents both a new class of ultraportable, ultra low-cost computers, and a huge opportunity for GNU/Linux. For the first time, a system running free software has really caught the imagination of the public - just look at the comments on this user forum to get a sense of the real enthusiasm of Eee PC owners.

Enterprises, too, could well find the prospect of a £200 machine that fits into a pocket an attractive option for employees. The machine comes with pre-installed Firefox and OpenOffice.org and built-in wifi, so it just works, straight out of the box. Flash memory means that it boots up in seconds, not minutes.

Moreover, the cost of losing one is far less than for traditional portables. And by mandating that users keep all their data *off* the machine, "in the cloud" somewhere, the security issues surrounding such losses would be reduced too.

That's not to say that the current machines are perfect. The mousepad is pretty bad, the keyboard is awkward and the screen is small. But Asus isn't resting on its laurels: it's just revealed some new machines with bigger screens and more flash memory. There are also plenty of Eee PC lookalikes being launched or announced. This is clearly going to be a very hot - and exciting - area to watch.