Earlier this week two very interesting reviews were posted: While Steve Paine (aka chippy) from UMPCportal.com published his video-review of the Packard Bell Easynote XS (which is the first retail product based on VIA Technologies' NanoBook reference design) Mike Chin from silentpcreview.com posted an article about the Asus eee PC that's half review / half editorial. Both reviews are definitely well recommended if you're interested in what's going in the low-cost mobile-computing market!
While I had some hands-on time with a VIA NanoBook during Computex and VTF back in June I had only had a chance to play around with an Asus eee PC sample this Tuesday. The main issue I had with it (and it's the same story on the Easynote XS) is the low 800px x 480px display. While for example the start-screen on the eee PC is well adapted to the low resolution it does happen that the "okay" and "cancel" button on a system or browser pop-up or other dialogue window aren't visible! Other than that the eee PC is certainly a good product, especially the keyboard is much better than anticipated which should really make that a very good machine for getting work done on-the-road.
Even though both laptops are basically in the same device-category (somewhere between a sub-notebook and a UMPC) there're actually quite different beasts. Personally I'd be more inclined to go for an Asus eee PC as for my requirements (mainly browsing the web and working on text-documents while on the road) the Easynote XS doesn't seem to be superior. In the past few days I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would use such a small computing-device and I concluded that it wouldn't really be able to replace my notebook.
Yes, I'd much prefer to bring something small and light-weight to my university lectures. Yes, 99% of the things I do during OLPC related meetings can be done on either of these machines. Yes, when working on university projects and assignments at a collegue's place they would also work out just fine.
But no, I'd still use my regular 15.4" notebook during events such as CeBIT and Computex because it provides me with a better performance for rendering videos, image editing, multi-tasking, etc. And no, when spending a weekend back home with my family neither the eee PC nor the Easynote XS would cut it, I'd definitely want the more potent notebook, even if it just were for watching videos on the larger screen during the train-ride. And most importantly, no, such a small device would never be able to replace my current notebook as my main machine.
Anyway, even though I'm not quite sure whether I should move in now or later the low-cost mobile-computing space is definitely one to keep a close eye on during the next 6 to 12 months because I'm sure we're going to see many exciting products there!