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Asustek Computer’s Asus Eee PC is popular across the whole world because of the price and support of features that end-users utilize most of the time. But this popularity is disturbing, claims Sony, a producer of high-end mobile machines, as when users stop to buy innovation, they start to buy commodity products

“If Asus [Eee PC] starts to do well, we are all in trouble. That’s just a race to the bottom,” said Mike Abary, senior vice president of Sony’s information technology products division, Cnet News.com web-site reports.

At present Asus Eee PCs are available for $299 - $499 in retail and can offer users very basic functionality along with performance that would hardly satisfy a tech-savvy or even advanced mainstream user. Nevertheless, being widely available, Asus Eee PC mobile computers prove to be rather popular across the world. Following the success of Asus Eee several other Taiwan-based manufacturers said they were planning to intro similar machines in 2008.

Unfortunately, it is not precisely clear who exactly acquires such entry-level machines: students, enthusiasts, mainstream users or consumers in emerging markers.

Sony produces and sells relatively expensive desktop and notebook computers with certain limitations, but those machines often feature capabilities not available on personal computers from other manufacturers. Competing makers of various PCs also try to offer even higher performance amid something exclusive, which attracts attention and moves the progress forward, perhaps, at a price. More importantly, Asustek Computer does the same with its high-end notebooks.

“Traditional PCs are too powerful, no matter in the home or office; we are seeing quad-core rising with octo-core coming in the near future, and the more cores in a CPU, the more memory the system needs. Is all this really necessary? With the Eee PC we decided to go back to basics, to bring the focus to just functions and reasonable price levels,” said said Jonney Shih, chief executive of Asustek, in an interview last November.

Given the message that Asustek has been sending about Eee, it is unlikely that there are clear skies for the Eee products and the brand itself: hardly a lot of people would like to go back to basics from currently available crystal-clear photos, high-definition videos, high-quality games and some other quality features that exist as a result of performance improvements.

Moreover, what if all computer manufacturers start to offer systems that miss the progress like the deserts miss the rain at delicious price points and without much concern about profit margins? Maybe, if they are lucky enough, some will fight back all the money that were spent on the development. But whether they are able to offer another system radically better compared to a previous one is uncertain.

Discussion

Comments currently: 20
Discussion started: 02/27/08 07:13:04 PM
Latest comment: 03/04/08 10:14:03 AM
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1. 
The hardware from Asus's Eee brand is too underpowered for even casual personal usage. EeePC can be used as a 2nd notebook but not primary.

While the smartphones getting stronger hardware spec (e.g. latest SonyEricsson X1 and iPhone), EeePCs will be brown away after 1-2 yrs.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/27/08 07:13:04 PM]
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I have my tower with all of my stuff on it. I don't really need to do anything intense when I'm on the road. Watching stuff on youtube is probably the most demanding thing I would do with a laptop.

And for smartphone performance: EEE PC v2 and v3 will blow it away too. What's your point? Moore's Law lives on.

note: I don't have an EEE but will when I have the funds.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/28/08 06:31:31 AM]
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I quite agree. YouTube, Outlook, Word, MSN, Skype, ... None of it is really that intensive. I have a home Desktop that I run all my main apps on, and my job is web based so all I need is a text editor, ftp client and an Internet connection, although a built in webcam and mic is always nice ;) Thus something light, and portable for the road, in a laptop is ideal.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/28/08 11:07:41 AM]
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2. 
The movement toward cheap computing that targets the real needs of 95% of all computer users has far more than Sony trembling with fear. These devices will have no cost room for Intel, AMD, MS or Nvidia. Graphics, OS and CPU power will come from companies willing to engage in the most extraordinary value for money battles.

Away from our main home machine, doing word processing, browsing, email, instant messaging etc, who the hell wants a heavy expensive power guzzling monster of a laptop. What I want is a return to the clamshell PDA devices of psion, but with wireless, generic PC compatible hardware, physical keyboard, and decent colour hi-res screen. That's what the eee provides. Indeed, that is what the new $200 handhelds from Taiwan will provide too.

The computer biz has enjoyed selling products with a cost and power way beyond the needs of most users for more than a few years now. Enthusiasts like myself like the idea of monster machines, but why on earth do most people even need more than one core, or gigs of memory. Today there are no projected software projects targetted at ordinary computer users that even need the power of computers several years old. Even hidef video decoding is becoming a near cost free part of the graphics chip just as 2d output did years back.

Sony is worse. An elitist brand selling overpriced crap to people with far more money than sense. When the 'little' person is browsing and reading PDF's on their $200 hand held, flogging the same facility to rich idiots for thousands of dollars will be impossible.

I think these new cheap handhelds are delivering the promise that the last generation of PDAs (palms and MS) so clearly failed to do. Psion got much closer, but had the misfortune of being too soon with respect to the available tech.

Oh, don't forget, MS, anticipating this time, had an initiative of their own to produce cheap wireless linked handhelds, but cancelled the project when they realised that they would hasten the day when ordinary users realised that the MS tax per machine was an outrage that could not be permitted to continue. By doing so, MS delayed the inevitable by maybe 2 years. Now MS is going to have to give away a version of its OS to run on these machines, if it doesn't want to be eliminated totally from this market (and imagine how much MS hates that thought).
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/27/08 08:12:29 PM]
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"Today there are no projected software projects targetted at ordinary computer users that even need the power of computers several years old."

Try running Office 07 or Adobe Acrobat on a Pentium3 500 MHz and you'll see that that's just not true. Hell, my Pentium M 1.5 laptop with 2 GB of RAM even needs a lot longer to load Word 2007 then my C2D desktop.

Another thing your forgetting is how flash and the like has added a lot of bloat to the web. Even casual users will from time to time watch flash videos and they won' t be happy on acomputer zhich is "several years old". Another app is Google Earth. I'd like to see you run that on an old computer.

You call yourself an enthusiast, but I guess you've been using the command line in some Linux distribution over the last several years, because normal web and office apps DO use the power of modern systems.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/28/08 12:04:00 AM]
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3. 
Products like asus eee-pc and everex cloudbook fill a niche for those who want super-portability,though I think they are overpriced at the moment.One with a 10-inch screen for around $200 would be killer.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/28/08 02:40:58 AM]
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4. 
Underpowered...ha! The eee does 99% of the tasks you normally want from a laptop, and speeds are fine, it hasnt slowed down on anything, until now, even if i had 20 something windows open... No 3g? Actually, im online with a umts modem right now - worked out of the box in seconds. You wont do any rendering or autocad, but thats about the only things you cant do with it. And...its lightning fast boot times are priceless (about 20 sec, from standby maybe 3 to 5) - you want get that from any sony/apple high end machines out there. It hasnt got mch memory, but stick a 16 gig sdhc + 16 gig usb flash into it and youre fine...

oh, the small keyboard takes time getting used to (sorry for the typos), but thats about all of the negative sides to it.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/29/08 01:22:35 AM]
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Conclusion:With the eee Asus build a machine the world was waiting for, no matter what sony says: The enormous success the eee has is proof for that.

Oh, and sony can go on building machines with features nobody really needs with prices nobody wants to pay. (talk about the ps3 vs Wii....)
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/29/08 01:34:14 AM]
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