EeePC 701 netbook bait and switch

A sexy piece of tech gear at a bargain price? Oooh, tell me more! That was the hook over the many months leading up to the release of the highly anticipated Asus EeePC. Even cults of lurkers materialized, like eeeuser. So here we are now (we in Australia, as other countries already had their launches) with the said item out there in the shops since last weekend, with an odd sense of ambivalence. It feels somewhat like a bait and switch.

If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.

The $199 EeePC concept by Asus had turned into the $499 Myer EeePC. To rationalize it, sure I am familiar with the history of the upward creeping price, with the rise in the cost of displays. And yes, I did sense the efforts on the part of Asus to make this more palatable by offering 3 versions of the same product with varying specifications (also following the golden rule of marketing: offer choice). And then Asus partners up with Myer because "Myer is a market leader in Australian retailing". My thought bubble at the time was something like WTF, because I could think of a raft of retailers including the ubiquitous Kmart (owned by Coles who also owns Myer; not to mention their competitor, Woolworths). At least we were going to see the product locally and this side of xmas. Also the sensible release date had probably something to do with it being number 1 on the Amazon best seller list and promise of fast xmas profits despite an earlier indication by Asus Australia suggesting otherwise. But Myer? What's next, partnering with Telstra with pre installed NextG because of their superior coverage? Either Asus just landed from outer space or they have a limited supply of these boxes so pushing them out to the value market for a brief blip before sellout makes no sense to them, for marketing exposure or profit.

The competition is not idle either. For about $100 extra you can get a normal laptop which, because of it's increased size offers far better productivity, as well as DVD drive and relatively huge hard disk capacity, all of which is good for students and average users. I would expect the EeePC to come in at a much lower price than a normal laptop because of it's simplified manufacturing design, lack of a costly full size display, no HDD, and no DVD drive. Such a value proposition was expected all along but we got the Myer EeePC instead.

Today's dead tree spam showed up these 2 laptops at JB HiFi for $588 and $592, after cashback mind you but it's still real money.


All this considered I would not recommend to anyone diving at the Myer EeePC without a sensible need. The best gadgets are the ones that you get good use out of and good value, but they all feed into the e-waste pipeline and end up about here so I would say to choose wisely.



[Revision 20071210: Took some photos of the Myer display. The item seems still sold out.]


[Revision 20071211: found another discounted laptop for $593 at Officeworks just to hammer the point]



[Revision 20080212: After bagging the above said item, I may be a hypocrite if later I bit my bullet and went out to Myer to purchased my own eeepc. I may be a hypocrite, but I am finally content so far as this item is concerned. eeepc, I has it , Woot!]




[Revision 20080406: So last night I finished installing Ubuntu onto my eeepc. It was a learning experience, with the process now relatively mastered. I am grateful to the kind people in all the internets ( http://ubuntu-eee.tuxfamily.org/ via eeeuser.com ) who paved the way. Very happy with the result. Looking forward to the 8.04 upgrade due out in some 18 days. Also for now, trying messiness on the desktop because whynot - had to make some up ...]




[Revision 20081106 : In retrospect I regret not setting up a separate post for my eeepc on the day that I purchased it. Instead I find myself going back and modifying this post which was originally intended only for commentary. Nonetheless, here is a photo of the power supply if anybody is considering improvising and needs to see the power spec - in 100-240~50/60Hz 680mA , out 9.5V 2.315A , center pin is positive]





earlier...



Asus EeePC in Australia:   Today I found out that the Asus EeePC (wiki) mini laptop will be selling in Australia in December for $500 at Myer! My late night coffee chum pointed it out to me after he eyeballed the local Asus site - the lookabout was brought up after I spoke some outdated information, which was that there is not current plan on the part of Asus to sell the laptop in Australia in the immediate future. I was wrong and am glad about it. It is possible that Asus Australia had a change of heart after the laptop became a best seller on Amazon in the US and the stock was selling out elsewhere upon initial release in Asia. Why not cash in on the xmas rush locally - money.

I am happy that it will probably be available in stores for when I need it, when my current laptop dies. The disappointment is that the current price of $500 is significantly higher than the $200 initial concept price. Nonetheless, I do love this inanimate object and I don't even have one yet, but one day ... one day.



earlier...


Asus Eee PC 701 : The Asus Eee PC 701 is a 7-inch handheld PC, coming out this August, and costing $199! Sounds highly interesting, also too good to be true. (via Gizmodo) (Google)

Will see in August if this is vaporware or some crewel joke. If this product is real then it would definitely give the OLPC concept a run for it's money, at least on the consumer stage.

With this and other recent product announcements, like the Palm Foleo, it looks looks like a diskless simplified subnotebook class of PCs is category to watch for. I can think of some advantages that this product has over the classical laptop already: fewer parts, cheaper, lighter, smaller, better battery life, solid state, always with you, everybody has one. I'm not absolutely sure at this early stage but I can see myself ditching my laptop for an Eee in a heartbeat the above materializes (well not ditching but more like handing it down maybe).

Specification

Display:7"
CPU & Chipset: Intel mobile CPU & chipset
OS: Linux/ Microsoft Windows XP compatible
Communication: 10/100 Mbps Ethernet; 56K modem
WLAN: WiFi 802.11b/g
Graphic: Intel UMA
Memory: 512MB, DDR2-400
Storage: 4/ 8/ 16GB Flash
Webcam: 300K pixel video camera
Audio: Hi-Definition Audio CODEC; Built-in stereo speaker; Built-in microphone
Battery Life: 3hrs (4 cells: 5200mAh, 2S2P)
Dimension & Weight: 22.5 x 16.5 x 2.1~3.5cm, 0.89kg

USD $199 for the 7" version
USD $299 for the 10" version

[Revision 20070730: Still wondering if the eeepc is vaporware. Found a press release on ASUS New Zealand, here and here.]

[Revision 20070817: fan website eeeuser.com indicates that the release date was pushed back]






MY WORKSTATION HISTORY
Kogan Atlas laptop [w Sandisk 120GB SSD]
Acer Aspire One AAO D270 netbook laptop [w Corsair 32GB SSD]
Asus Eee PC 1015PX netbook laptop [w Corsair 32GB SSD]
Acer Aspire One AAO 543h netbook laptop [w Corsair 32GB SSD]
Asus eee pc 701 netbook laptop
Acer Aspire laptop
OEM laptop
OEM desktops

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thanks for your post. I choked when I saw the absurd $495 price tag on the Eeepc and had a coronary when I found out they'd sold out. Do people think anymore? Wondered if anyone else noticed. Glad to hear at least one person did!
Bob said…
MEGALOL. Thanks!
Anonymous said…
I guess it depends on what you need it for. As one of the mindless people who actually bought one of these things I started with the assumption that this was not a laptop replacement, but rather a ultraportable without the UMPC pricetag. In fact, it pretty much does everything I wanted a UMPC for, at about 1/3 the price of its nearest competitor (The Fujitsu U1010).
Aside from novice users the other prime target market for the eeePC is probably professionals who are currently trying to push a PDA to do basic office tasks. Been there and done that, and the experience has made me realise that the eePC is actually great value at $499
Tel said…
On the one hand I think it's a lovely cute little design and I want to donate some money to the cause of having Linux preloaded on laptops (once one manufacturer demonstrates there's a market, others will come to the party).

On the other hand, yeah $500 is not good value given that other laptops can offer more of everything (and have enough in hand to pay the Doze tax) for quite similar prices. I do wonder just a little whether Acer isn't secretly paying the Doze tax on these boxes and building it into the base price (might explain things).

One thing I just can't understand is why any manufacturer would consider building flash RAM into a motherboard. It's such a stoopid idea. Just provide an SD slot and/or a CF slot and ship with the Linux image preloaded on foobar-brand flash cards. The market for flash RAM devices is so volatile, there's no reason to even attempt to compete with the likes of San-disk, etc. This would chop at least $50 off the final price and provide an upgrade path for those who want it. Plus, easy backups, etc.

In the time it takes you to get your motherboard design finished, debugged, tested and back from the factory, flash RAM has developed by another generation any you are using obsolete chips. Give up ASUS you can't win that game!
Tel said…
Ummm, please to be correcting the confusion between Acer and Asus.