With incredibly capable devices like Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD going on sale for less than two hundred bucks, we’re becoming ever more accustomed to the reality of cheap but high-quality computing. But just a few years ago, such an idea was still largely the stuff of dreams.
When Intel and Asus announced in June 2007 that they planned to release a $199 PC, more than a few eyebrows were raised. This was a time when even the very cheapest notebooks cost twice as much. The chairman and CEO of Asus called the Eee “the world’s lowest cost and easiest PC… easy to learn, easy to play, easy to work”.
It wasn't the first 'mini laptop', but the Eee PC 701 was the vanguard of the netbook PC segment, which rapidly exploded to encompass scores of devices, so many of which were hopelessly underpowered and often immensely frustrating to use. But they also introduced consumers to the convenience of low-cost secondary PCs for web browsing and occasional word-processing, well before affordable tablets became the de facto standard for such tasks.
But it's the soaring popularity of tablets like the iPad, and the falling price of thin and light notebooks, that have left netbooks on borrowed time for so long, and Digitimes reports that Asus has now, finally, ceased production of the Eee PCs that started the trend. Asus plans to direct customers who would have purchased an Eee netbook towards its Android-based Transformer tablets.
Acer and MSI – two other manufacturers that flooded an eager market with netbooks – are also said to be phasing out their netbook products.
Their cramped keyboards, weak battery life, horrible low-resolution screens and quirky performance meant that many users didn’t exactly love their Eee PCs… but many of us still have a strange – and perhaps completely illogical – fondness for them. We salute their years of service, and commend them to the great scrapheap in the sky.
Rest In Pieces.