Word of warning: Eee PC Linux Recovery DVD
A coworker bought himself an Asus Eee PC 700 for a modest €300. After the initial surprise of how small and light it is I got to play around with it for a while.
The custom version of Xandros (née Corel Linux) provided by Asus could hardly look more like Windows XP. The choice of this less popular distribution made life that little bit more awkward when I was struggling to get Citrix installed. When 3rd party software fails I'd be inclined to blame the 3rd party namely Citrix but since it works in Windows my coworker is more inclined to blame Linux and he threatened to buy the Eee PC with Windows next time since his children were already monopolising his new toy.
The very small tight keyboard layout with an undersized shift key got annoying fast, kept inadvertently hitting the up button. The smaller return key (or should I say "enter") is annoying but to be fair I'm used to it being two rows high and it isn't an unusual design choice (seen it on American keyboards layouts). I'm left wondering as to why designers do not elminate the Caps Lock key and the Function keys (F1, F2, etc.) and why it has both a Delete and Backspace key if space is at a premium.
Word of Warning:
In the limited time I had to play around with the Eee PC it was fun but I wanted to play with it more so I tried using the Linux Recovery DVD on a spare computer. I was hoping perhaps it was a Live DVD and I'd be able to setup a test Eee PC playground. I'm glad I used a spare machine since the *Recovery* disc overwrote something on the local hard drive. Don't try this at home. Having read the documentation further the smarter move would have been to get the Software Developer Kit (SDK) from the Asus website http://support.asus.com.tw/download/
and instructions are provided explaining how to setup the Eee PC inside VMWare. Although I didn't find it in my brief search I wouldn't be surprised to soon find a VMWare Player with all this already setup for you.
The Asus Eee PC has really grabbed a lot of attention (or was it the OLPC that started it all) and sparked a whole line of so-called "netbooks" but it will be interesting to see if they can capitalise on their first mover advantage, or hold on to a prestige position like Apple do. It is an impressive machine and I was almost tempted but little annoyances soon focussed my thoughts to more fun things I could do with the money.
In any case the software is what grabs me and I'm pleasantly surprised to see Linux in the mainstream.