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Asus Eee PC 1000

The Eee PC 1000 family is a little larger than its older Surf brethren at about 10.5-by-7.5-by-1.5 inches, but that gets you a 10-inch-wide, 1024-by-600 WSVGA LCD screen (the Surfs’ are seven inches). It also tips the scales about one pound heavier at three-plus pounds, partially because of a bigger six-cell battery. It’s available in pearl white or fine ebony.

That extra bulk also gets you up to eight hours of use on a single charge, according to the company. The base model ships with 1 GB of DDR RAM, a 40GB solid state hard drive, 1.3-megapixel Web cam, a slot for SD and MMC cards and 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth connectivity. The base model has GNU Linux and 50 apps preloaded; Windows XP Home versions are also available. The processor’s an Intel Atom N270. There are three USB ports and a VGA out.

We’ve seen it listed at US$599 and $699 online, but actually getting your hands on one is another kettle of fish. The original Eee PCs were scarce as hen’s teeth in Canada.

Dell Inspiron Mini 9

The Mini 9 is smaller and lighter than the Eee PC 1000 at 9-by-6.7 inches and a little over an inch deep, with a fighting weight with standard four-cell battery of two-and-a-quarter pounds. Its colour options are obsidian black and alpine white (very distinct from the Asus options, eh?). The screen is an 8.9-inch glossy 1024-by-600 LED display.

The processor is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom. While the base model ships with 512 MB of RAM, the Mini 9 can support up to 1 GB of RAM; the solid state hard drive can be up to 16 GB. There’s wireless 802.11g connectivity, with optional Bluetooth, three USB ports, VGA out, optional 0.3 or 1.3-megapixel Web cams, a four-in-one card reader. There’s a choice of Ubuntu Linux or Microsoft Windows Home. The company claims a battery life of four hours.

The Mini 9 starts at $359 online from Dell, but with the number of customization options and accessories on offer, one could push the price up to about $600 for a tricked-out version. There have been reports of long delivery windows.

Acer Aspire One

The Aspire weighs in at between 2.2 and 2.8 pounds, depending on the configuration — the six cell battery and 120GB hard drive pack on the half pound, while opting for a three-cell battery and up to 16GB of flash memory slim it down. This affords an 8.9-inch, LED-backlit WSVGA display. Acer’s colour selection shows a little more fashion savvy, with available sapphire blue, seashell white, coral pink and golden brown (at last, a netbook for us autumns).

The Aspire One can ship with a 120GB hard drive, or eight or 16GB of flash memory. It’s available with 512MB of RAM, or a 1GB configuration that combines 512MB of onboard with 512MB in a SODIMM slot. The SD card reader can be upgraded to six-in-one or 10-in-one readers. There’s 802.11 b/g connectivity, three USB ports and a VGA out; if the Aspire supports Bluetooth, it’s been overlooked in the company’s spec sheets. The processor is an Atom N270. It ships with a Web cam, and a choice of Linpus Linux Lite or Windows XP Home.

We’ve seen the Aspire One priced at anywhere between US$309 and $400 online, depending on the options.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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