Eee PCMobile computers continue to drop in cost, and as a result we get smaller PC’s that offer more bang for the buck. The low-cost mobile computer craze all started with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) who’s goal was to create a computing device that could be sold for $100 each to developing countries. As word began to spread about how cheap this was going to be people around the world questioned whether a consumer-oriented model would be sold in retail stores.

The last I heard the OLPC is costing around $170 to manufacture which is well above their target cost. Other companies are stepping up to fill the consumer void left by the OLPC, and one of the first is ASUS. They have started to promote a $199 device called the Eee PC (pictured to the right) that will set the ultra-mobile PC market on fire.

The Eee PC will offer a few different configuration options, some of which inflate the price depending on your choice:

Display: 7"
CPU & Chipset: Intel mobile CPU & chipset (900MHz Intel Dothan)
OS: Linux/ Microsoft Windows XP compatible
Communication: 10/100 Mbps Ethernet; 56K modem
WLAN: WiFi 802.11b/g
Graphic: Intel UMA
Memory: 512MB, DDR2-400
Storage: 4/ 8/ 16GB Flash
Webcam: 300K pixel video camera
Audio: Hi-Definition Audio CODEC; Built-in stereo speaker; Built-in microphone
Battery Life: 3hrs (4 cells: 5200mAh, 2S2P)
Dimension & Weight: 22.5 x 16.5 x 2.1~3.5cm, 0.89kg (1.96lbs)

Word is that the Eee PC with the 4GB hard drive will cost $199 and the 8GB drive will be $299, but I didn’t see any mention regarding the cost on the 16GB drive. Another way they were able to keep the cost down (besides offering small Flash storage drives) is to use Linux as the default operating system. It is said that the computer works fine with Windows XP, although that would probably take up more precious storage space than it would be worth.

HotHardware was able to get their hands on the Eee PC for a little bit to play with and snap some photos. There are two different versions of Linux that can be used: one for novice users and one for experienced users. The one for Novice users create tabs for doing things like Internet, Work, Playing, and Settings while the advanced interface is full-blown Linux including a Start Menu and Desktop. Screenshots of this are at the bottom of the post.

All-in-all I think this will be an awesome device, and from the current specs I like it better than the Palm Foleo. It is supposed to be available later this year, and if it hits the shelves in time for the holidays I’m sure they could meet their sales goal of 200,000 units!

Alright here are some screenshots of the novice and advanced interface:

Eee PC Interface

Thanks to Mohan for the tip!