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Published: Wednesday 02 October, 2013

birkenstock outlet birkenstock outlet ?Little computers

When it comes to computers, size has always mattered: from processing power to hard disk capacity, the battle to be fastest or to have the most memory has always been hard fought.

In the past 18 months, however, the biggest frontier has been about miniaturisation, and now almost every consumer can afford a laptop that does almost everything they might need while out and about.

Asuss original Eee PC launched the trend: based on the Linux operating system because it was cheaper and less technologyhungry than Windows, it had a 7in screen, WiFi internet access, a webcam and an Officestyle suite of applications. Some commentators criticised it as plasticky, but most realised this was the very best of the bargain basement: simple, rugged and not walletbusting if you did do a little damage.

Asus is now launching the followup to the Eee, but the field is already getting crowded, as HP, Acer, Toshiba and other manufacturers launch impressive new models. Since the focus is on using the web to do things that previously took up hard disk space, some new models integrate mobile broadband, too.

So whats behind this development in what was once the very expensive end of the computing market? Increasingly, consumers want to be able to take everything they need with them. The price of technology has plummeted, while battery life has improved.

The internet is everywhere, but most phones dont access it very effectively, and Asus was first to spot a gap in the market.

However, these small form factor computers do make sacrifices. Few have DVD players or completely practical keyboards, but plenty of video can be watched online, and these models are not yet intended to replace anyones main computer. Disk drives may be small, but they are often expandable with memory cards and USB sticks.

In essence, perhaps, these new machines have called the IT industrys bluff. Consumers were previously buying machines that were capable of far more than they ever needed. The Eee PC, especially, still does everything most people need and a bit more, too.

The demand for mobile computing, so long talked of as the industrys next big thing, is indeed turning out to be massive, but people are realising they need less power in their pockets and that their new computer doesnt have to sit next to an empty wallet.

Asus seems to have done it again with its new range of ultraportable laptops. The 900 series picks up where its predecessor left off, packing a webcam, wireless internet connectivity, three USB ports, a memory ca birkenstock outlet rd reader and an ethernet connection into a machine little bigger than a sheet of A5 paper and weighing less than a Harry Potter blockbuster.

Why Windows XP is the weakest link

There are one or two notable improvements a 2in increase in screen size to 9in and a larger mousepad that supports multitouch gestures, allowing you to scroll through websites and zoom in and out of photos. But the biggest difference is the operating system. The original ran a very slick version of free, open source Linux, while the 900 is also available with Windows XP installed.

One of the reasons Asus was able to keep the cost of the Eee PC so low was because it ran a basic operating system, rather than Microsofts power glutton. How would it fare with XP?

The answer is, somewhat creakily. Programs arent as quick to load, theres a delay between clicking a command and getting a result, and the system inexplicably froze a couple of times. XP also offers fewer applications users must make do with Microsoft Works instead of Office. On the Linux machine, OpenOffice, the free alternative to Office, is preinstalled.

For some people, the benefits of a small, cheap laptop that feels familiar will outweigh its limitations. Linux does have some drawb birkenstock outlet acks, including the lack of drivers for some cameras, printers, etc. A big di birkenstock outlet sappointment was battery life Asus promises about three hours, but we often achieved nearer two. Ultraportable laptops need more than this.

Overall, there is much to recommend the 900: compact and well built, its an ideal second computer. With three USB ports, you could hook it up to a huge external drive, and connecting to a Wi?Fi network is incredibly simple. The multitouch trackpad, while not as impressive as the MacBook Air, is none the less a nice addition.

At the XP version wont break the bank. But for the same price, you could opt for a Linux version, with a 20GB solidstate drive rather than 12GB of flash memory. Better still, plump for the original Eee PC 701 Linuxbased model, with 4GB of storage, costing a measly birkenstock outlet