Laptops

Asustek Aims New Eee PCs at Emerging Markets

Asustek Computer hopes the lower price point for its latest Eee PC mini-notebooks will boost their sales in developing countries.

The new products, called the 904HD and 1000HD, differ from each other mainly in their screen size. The 904HD has an 8.9-inch screen, while its larger cousin sports a 10-inch screen.

The products have a lot in common, including the same body in white or black, up to 2G bytes of DRAM and an 80G-byte hard disk drive. Both are offered with Microsoft Windows XP Home edition or GNU Linux.

The laptops are already on sale in Taiwan, priced with Windows XP at NT$14,988 (US$477) for the 904HD and NT$16,988 (US$541) for the 1000HD.

They will be offered in other emerging markets, including India, no later than September, an Asustek representative said. While designed primarily for developing countries, they are also being sold in Europe and the U.S. Pricing will vary by country. In the U.S. they cost $650 for the 904HD and $750 for the 1000HD.

Notably absent from the new products is Intel's latest Atom microprocessor for mini-laptops, which is one of the reasons that Asustek was able to price the machines lower than its earlier products.

Instead the new laptops use the Celeron M 353, a chip launched by Intel in 2004. But that creates a big drawback compared to Atom-based products -- shorter battery life.

Eee PCs with Atom, including the 901, 1000 and 1000H, carry 6-cell batteries and can run for at least 4.2 to 7 hours. The Celeron-based 904HD and 1000HD, also with 6-cell batteries, can run for only 3.2 to 5 hours before needing a recharge.

Aside from the larger screen the 1000HD has some other features that make it superior to the 904HD. It comes with a 1.3-megapixel Web cam versus the 0.3-megapixel Web cam on the 904HD, and can access the Internet wirelessly via speedy 802.11b/g/ and n Wi-Fi networks, while the 904HD supports only 802.11b/g.

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