Even though it's only a couple of years old, it's hard to imagine the laptop industry without the Eee PC Netbook from Asus. If one product line can be credited with nearly single-handedly creating the entire Netbook category--arguably the biggest paradigm shift in mobile computing in years--it's this series of low-cost, low-power laptops.
The very first Eee PC we reviewed, 2007's Eee PC 4G (sometimes called the Eee PC 701), shows how far Netbooks have come in a little more than two years. That system had an Intel Celeron M CPU, 512MB of RAM, a 4GB SSD, and a custom Linux OS, all built around an 7-inch screen. Was it the first Netbook? That's arguable; we'd already seen similar specs from education-targeted products such as Intel's original Classmate PC, but those were not sold directly to consumers.
Since then, we've been hit by refreshed Eee PC models every few months on average. In fact, we've reviewed eight distinct variations in the last 12 months alone. The current standard is built around an Intel N450 CPU, with Windows 7, 1GB of RAM, and a 10-inch screen at 1,024x600-pixel resolution.
At the same time, we're seeing some Netbooks from Asus and other PC makers that push the boundaries, by moving to 11-inch displays, higher screen resolutions, better graphics, and in some cases, low-voltage dual-core CPUs--although these upscale models are starting to blur the very definition of a Netbook.
For purposes of historical interest, we've rounded up the past few generations of Eee PC Netbooks for easy perusal. This particular collection doesn't include every Eee PC model we've reviewed; instead, we've chosen to focus on versions from the past 12 months, all of which are still available for sale (we'll dig deeper into the archive in a future roundup). … Read more