Yes, I bought an Eee. I like my Dell E1505 for desktop-replacement use, and I’ve taken it on quite a few trips without undue bother, but it and its power supply are just a little too bulky to carry around all the time. I don’t take it to and from work, when I do have it at work I don’t take it to meetings unless I specifically plan to use it for a presentation, etc. I decided to get something that was a bit more like a PDA in terms of being able to take it everywhere, but with a real keyboard because without one I’d never use it either. They key to the Eee, in my opinion, is that it’s like a PDA in price, too. Many would-be competitors seem to miss the point when they make physically-similar machines with faster processors and more storage (mostly just so they can run bloaty Vista) and then give it an $800 price tag. I wouldn’t have bought this – yes, I’m using it now – even for $600. That’s just too much to risk for something that doesn’t fit into an established usage category, but for just shy of $400 . . . well, OK, I’ll give it a whirl.

I got the 4GB (701) model, because it’s the lowest-price model that has upgradeable RAM and the bigger batteries. It also has more RAM than 2GB models, and comes with more applications preloaded than will fit on those. It also has a camera, not that I care. It was just the only way to get the other features I wanted, and might even preclude my taking it to some places I might go where they don’t like recording devices. The reaction to the 4GB-and-up models seems overwhelmingly positive, but a significant number of people seem to get frustrated with the limitations of the cheapest versions. I ordered mine from Red Barn, because (a) they had it in stock and (b) I could get it with a nice faux-leather skin. I’m a sucker for skins.

So, how is it? I’m not going to gush with enthusiasm, but so far it has been very nice. Yes, the screen is small. I’ve had to learn all the keyboard commands to maximize windows and get rid of menu bars etc. On the odd-aspect (800×480) screen you really notice how much useful display space those things take up. The keyboard is small too, but I’m generally OK with that; the only thing that consistently trips me up is the one-row-too-high placement of the tilde key. The fact that it’s Linux was actually a plus for me, unlike most people, and not just because I work in a Linux-centric office. The fact that it’s Xandros Linux is more of a problem. Blech, what a dog of a distro. Practically the only thing I had to do on my first day configuration-wise was rip out a bunch of Xandros cruft so that the wireless network connection would come back up properly after a suspend/resume cycle. The fact that the Asus package repositories are so incomplete and limited didn’t make me happy either, but that was also easy to fix. Fortunately, there’s a lot of information out there on user-community sites about how to fix some of the more obvious issues.

The system overall has been stable and has worked well, though. I took it on my recent trip to Michigan as an experiment, to see if it was functional enough to be my sole machine on a trip without risk of finding myself flat-footed on a business trip. All I can really say is that it worked fine. I used it in airports, a little bit on the plane, quite a bit at my brother’s place. I did real work on it, troubleshooting stuff back on the office from the terminal at Logan. For what it is, and it will never be mistaken for a primary system, it is a great little box.