When it comes to laptops under £200, Asus were the first into the market with the Eee PC. While many have followed, Everex’s CloudBook appears to be the Eee's biggest competitor. We've put the two laptops head-to-head to find out which one you should purchase
Which is the best £200 sub-notebook?
Both units feature the same basic menus of free, open-source applications, including Firefox and OpenOffice 2.3 as well as buttons that load web apps such as Google Docs http://docs.google.com/ , YouTube www.youtube.com and Box.Net. While the apps may load faster on the Eee, you can install many more of them on the CloudBook's hard drive.
Bottom line: They're tied.
Everex offers free round-the-clock support for its PCs through a call centre in the US. I made four calls during the course of my review. It was obvious that they had some knowledge of Linux. But they hadn't received any CloudBooks themselves, much less been trained explicitly for them.
I haven't used the Asus tech-support line for the Eee PC. A colleague did and reported that the support tech was courteous and did his best to be helpful. However, as far as I can tell, most Eee PC users rely on message boards such as Eeeuser.com.
Bottom line: Another tie.
The final analysis
If you're in the market for a £200 sub-notebook, there are a few reasons, none of them crucial, why you might choose the CloudBook when it launches in the UK over the Eee: desire for greater storage in order to store multimedia files or install a heftier operating system such as Windows XP. A deep preference for the colour black. A contrarian streak that rebels against the Eee PC's trendiness.
But until Everex makes a large public commitment to releasing an updated operating system and/or BIOS fixing the CloudBook, I can only recommend it for experienced Linux users who will view the inevitable hours they spend hacking their CloudBook as recreation, not hassle. Fortunately, most of the CloudBook's problems are operating system- or software-related and hence should reasonably easy for Everex and gOS to fix.
While I applaud both the Eee PC and CloudBook, as well as the One Laptop Per Child, for their trailblazing efforts, I think that most consumers will ultimately be much happier spending a teensy bit more money for a slightly bigger machine. That's why I recommend waiting several months to check out the Asus Eee PC 900, the recently announced ECS G10IL or Everex's own updates to the CloudBook. All will sport larger 9in screens, while the updated CloudBook looks set to have a larger keyboard. all will reportedly cost between £250 to £500.