New Asus netbooks will feature Windows 7

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At a press conference at CES 2009 Tuesday evening, Asus introduced the Eee 131, its first netbook with a built-in 512 GB hard drive. Asus has been working closely with Microsoft, so that the new Eee will run Windows 7.

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5:59 pm PT: Both of Asus' new convertible netbooks will use Intel's Atom processors, though different versions. The 10-inch Eee will use Intel Z270 processor, which is what most netbooks use today. But the 8.9-inch model will use the Atom Z520, which provides 20% greater energy conservation.

4:10 pm PT: Asus also demonstrated a convertible tablet -- again, conceptually, with no products announced. Shih said, "There will be a lot of interesting things happening" with user interfaces, but did not go into more detail.

Yesterday was Asus' 19th anniversary, and for the duration of its existence, the CEO said, his company has always been focused on innovation.

4:07 pm PT: During a Q&A session, Shih was asked whether an Eee PC would eventually run Google's Android operating system. "It seems like many companies are considering Android," Shih responded. As for placing it on the Eee, he said, "I'm not sure about that yet."

Later, the CEO admitted that Asus needs to do more work on multi-touch before coming out with a notebook that features it. Asus did demo multi-touch capabilities, at least conceptually, as well as a "dual-mode PC." This latter device would have two hard drives, so you could connect to the Internet using the smaller HDD if you were running applications on the larger one, or you could run a movie from the smaller drive. No products were announced for either concept, however.

3:53 pm PT: The Eee 131, Shih said, will ship within the next three to five months.

3:50 pm PT: Next, Shih showed off a curious controller called the Eee Top, which he described as "a device for every room in the house." It appears designed to connect to home networks, and operate using an "easy navigation system" using gestures rather than touchpad or keyboard.

3:47 pm PT: It is a "highly reactive" keyboard, Shih said, with a five-inch touchscreen display built-in. You can use this keyboard or a touchpad in any room in the house.

3:41 pm PT: "You've never seen Windows run this fast," said Dave Fester, Microsoft's marketing manager for OEM products, speaking at this afternoon's conference.

Later, Asus previewed its Eee PC T91 touchscreen notebook, which features a built-in TV tuner and a built-in GPS. Asus Chairman and CEO Johnny Shih described this Eee as a "next generation" netbook, with a "superset" of features for mobile computing.

Shih also showed the Eee Keyboard, a wireless keyboard for "sharing, playing, and communicating."

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