CES - Asus to super-size the wee Eee

Vendor to introduce 8- and 9-inch versions of the mini machine

Taiwanese PC maker, Asustek Computer, has confirmed rumours that it will enlarge upcoming versions of its hit Eee mini-notebook PC to accommodate 8- and 9-inch LCD screens, up from the current 7-inch LCDs the $US399 Eee now sports.

According to a [report] in gadget blog, Engadget, Asustek also plans to embed WiMax capability into its upcoming Eees as well as other notebook PCs.

The larger screen size will allow the Eees, due by the middle of this year, to sport a screen resolution of 1024x600, up from the current 800x480, reported the Register.

Asus has sold more than 350,000 of the 2-pound (0.9kg) PCs, originally aimed at children. But some adult users have complained that the Eee is just a little too small for comfortable typing or Web surfing.

Neither report mentioned if the super-sized Eees will sport bigger keyboards to go with their expanded screens.

The bigger models could help the Eee attract mainstream adult buyers, compete with slightly-larger, much more expensive ultramobile PCs (UMPCs) from mostly Asian manufacturers, as well as upcoming low-cost sub-notebooks such as Everex's [CloudBook].

Last June, Asus actually showed off an pre-production Eee with a 10-inch screen, but since then has been hush-hush about that model.

According to the Register, buyers of the new Eees will be able to get it pre-loaded with Windows XP on its solid-state hard drive, rather than the Xandros Linux it now comes with. (Xandros Linux will also be an available option.)

During the joint press conference with Intel and Sprint -- both strong proponents of WiMax -- Asus CEO, Johnny Shih, did not show off an actual model of the new Eee, according to the Register.

Nor did he disclose prices or case colors for the new Eees, according to Engadget.

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Eric Lai

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