Asustek to Unveil US$200 Eee PC Netbook Next Year

Asustek Computer plans to unveil a new Eee PC netbook that costs just US$200 in the first quarter of next year, a company representative said Thursday.

The quest to design a new low-cost version of its popular netbook line recalls the original plans for the Eee PC, a $199 netbook, which helped launch the netbook craze.

The low-cost netbook debuted last year in Taipei, nicknamed Surf, and cost NT$7,999 (US$241). The device had a 7-inch LCD screen, an Intel Celeron M microprocessor and ran a Linux OS. But more expensive versions of the Eee PC with larger screens and speedier microprocessors followed, and quickly overshadowed the device.

The success of Eee PCs with larger 8.9-inch or 10-inch screens and 1.6GHz Intel Atom microprocessors that cost double or more the price of the Surf caught on more quickly around the world. Asustek executives have even said they planned to phase out using 7-inch screens because most people view them as too small for Web surfing.

The company has kept quiet about its plans for the new US$200 Eee PC, except to say that one is coming. No details about its possible screen size or other attributes has been revealed.

When asked if the US$200 Eee PC might be shown at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January, the Asustek representative said he wasn't sure.The only thing certain is the device will be unveiled in the first quarter.

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