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Thanks to MeeGo, Asus Makes Good on $200 Laptop Promise

Now available for preorder, this compelling new netbook taps the power of Linux.

Keen observers may recall that Asus's debut of the Padfone back at Computex in May was accompanied by another, albeit less-trumpeted announcement. Specifically, the company promised a $199 netbook computer -- the MeeGo-based Eee PC X101 -- and this week that device took several steps closer to reality.

Reportedly due to begin shipping in September, the Eee PC X101 was first spotted earlier this week on several U.S. retailers' websites, as Liliputing pointed out on Tuesday. At PCSuperStore, for instance, it's now available for preorder at a price of $199.73, while at Directron it's listed at $208.98.

Now there's also an official product page for the machine on the Asus site, and the netbook turned up on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Exhibits List as well, complete with photos and a user manual.

Cloud Storage Included

So how is the promising device shaping up?

Well, one of the biggest changes to emerge so far is that the alternate X101H model -- originally expected to offer both Windows 7 and MeeGo -- now looks like it will be Windows 7 only.

Otherwise, the Eee PC X101 does offer the promised wing-shaped design with a thickness that's less than 17.6mm, Asus says. Weighing less than 920 grams, the device features a chiclet keyboard and a large touchpad.

Under the hood are an Intel Atom N435 or N455 processor, a maximum of 2GB of RAM (1GB is standard), a 2.5-inch SATA 8GB SSD HDD and 2GB of DropBox cloud storage. Along with the device's 10.1-inch LED Backlight WSVGA 1024-by-600 screen, meanwhile, there's a 0.3 megapixel camera, built-in WLAN 802.11 b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth V3.0, an SD/SDHC/MMC card reader and two USB 2.0 ports. Available in white, red and brown, the device offers a battery life of four hours.

The Power of Linux

And what makes all this possible for less than $200? That's right, it's MeeGo Linux, the open source operating system Nokia abandoned but that's been popping up repeatedly of late on a variety of planned devices, including an upcoming Acer tablet. Just recently, MeeGo was also spotted running "seriously well" on Barnes & Noble's Nook Color.

Many wrote off MeeGo following word of Nokia's departure, but -- as I've said before -- any such reports of MeeGo's death were greatly exaggerated. Its benefits are too many and too compelling to be discounted just yet.

Could you use an inexpensive, flexible and yet powerful computing device in your business? What enterprise couldn't? Then you'd do well to consider one of these powerful new MeeGo-based devices.

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