The Netbook Reborn?

Remember the Asus Eee PC? When it came out a few years ago - before the iPad, even before the iPhone - it revolutionised the computer market. It was low-powered, small, and dirt-cheap - about £230, half the price of most laptops at the time. The netbook was born.

Over the next few years, the netbook became the fastest-growing segment of the PC market - but they started to look a lot like regular laptops. Instead of the Eee PC's custom Linux software, they came with Windows XP and, later, Windows 7. The screens got bigger. And they got a bit more expensive - a netbook will set you back about £260 these days. But for £370, you could get a tablet - and tablet sales are starting to seriously eat into netbook sales.

So Asus are reinventing the netbook once more. Their new UX21 laptop is undisputably a netbook, with a low-power processor and 10in screen. But it's sexily thin, almost as thin as a £1000 MacBook Air. And Asus have eschewed Windows, not for Linux, but for Intel's MeeGo software - highly touted by geeks as a light, flexible OS with lots of potential.

Best of all, though, is the price: just $200. That should translate to well under £200 in the UK - and that should be pretty attractive to people considering a tablet. The netbook, reborn...

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