Rumours were rife of an Apple netbook, and many Macworld readers were hoping for a touch screen step forward from Apple. But with the the Macworld Expo 2009 keynote behind us it seems Asus is first to make the leap into the touch screen netbook territory with two new netbooks: the EeePC T91 and EeePC T101H.
Macworld got its hands on prototype models at CES and, in the absence of the MacNetBook decided to test it out.
The EeePC brand will be no stranger to the computing world, as this is largely seen as the laptop that kicked off the netbook craze. These two new models add touch screen capability with a rotating screen that turns around and clamps down, turning the Asus EeePC T91 into (that old-chestnut) a Tablet PC.
TabletPC’s never particularly took the world by storm, but the smaller form factor of the netbook may turn the tide and bring back this type of portable computer. You can access the screen by using your finger or by pulling out a stylus contained in the side of the netbook.
The Asus T101H netbook contains a rotating touch screen to turn it into a tablet PC
The operating system is Microsoft XP, which is obviously something of a negative point to the Macworld readership. Speaking from experience we can also say that usability of Microsoft XP via a touch screen device leaves a lot to be desired. Asus has combated this with an overlay panel system that enables you to create three different panels with highly visual applications (sporting larger buttons and suchlike). These can be used for calendars, music, media and other popular interactive features. However, like other touch screen devices we noted that Microsoft Windows itself remained too finicky to be used effectively via touch control.
Swivel the screen back around and the Asus Eee PC resembles a regular netbook, with a fairly usable keyboard and small - but functional trackpad. The T91 sports a 8.9in screen and Intel Atom Z520, while the T101H features are more sizable 10in display and Intel Atom N270.
Both devices will have GPS and TV Tuner functionality available as an optional extra.
The Asus representative we spoke to was reticent about pricing. Although they did say that the most expensive Asus was $600 and that Asus was unlikely to exceed that price point.
The Asus T91 and T101H should be available in Spring 2009.
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