Asus previews a slimmer, less costly Eee PC

Asus' prototype Eee PC 1002HANEW YORK, N.Y. - Last night, Asus gave a first-time look at a more affordable version of the "deluxe" S101 Eee that debuted in October. The Windows XP-based EPC 1002HA comes with a two-cell instead of a four-cell battery.

Asus, manufacturer of some of the first netbooks, will introduce a $499 version of the "deluxe" Eee PC S101, BetaNews has learned. At a Pepcom press event here last night, Asus showed off a non-working prototype of the upcoming 1002HA, a 10-inch ultramobile PC (UMPC) that costs $150 less than the $649 price tag on the deluxe model that debuted last month.

Like the S101, the 1002HA will offer a graphite-colored brush metal exterior, and it will run Windows XP, said Josh Norem, senior technical marketing specialist at Asus.

"Linux is going well for us, especially in Europe," Norem told BetaNews last night. "But now we're focusing on Windows XP, because a lot of people find it easier to use."

The upcoming 1002HA will also use the same, redesigned chassis as the S101, and both machines weigh in at two pounds without battery.

In fact, apparently, the only big difference between the two netbooks is the size of the battery.

Other specs are the same for both: an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz processor, 160 GB hard drive, 1 GB of RAM, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, a 1.3 megapixel camera, an SDHC card reader, Bluetooth wireless, and 3 USB 2.0 card slots. But the 1002HA will use only a two-cell battery, in comparison to the four-cell battery of the S101 and the six-cell battery of the 1002HA's immediate predecessor, the 1000H.

Slated to ship some time in December for $499, the 1002HA will weigh about one pound less than the 1000H, and it will be only 1-inch thick, rather than the 1.5-inches of the 1000H, BetaNews was told.

Other machines surrounding the 1002HA prototype in Asus' booth at the event included the U6V Bamboo, one of several Asus offerings available only in limited editions. The Intel Core 2 Duo-based PC, which literally does use bamboo as an ingredient within its exterior materials, is priced at $1,999.

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