Confession: we love, love slim laptops. Air, Envy, X300, slips of copier paper with "laptop" written on them... anything decently under that magical 1-inch thick mark has a special place in our hearts. And then there's the Eee PC S101. Don't get us wrong, we really like this little netbook. It's slim, light, solidly built, not entirely gaudy and comes with quite the pedigree, but we're having trouble choking down that $699 pricetag for what's still ostensibly a "second" computer. Here's the way we see it: this new, wonderful 0.75-inch thick form factor can't just be a random noodling by ASUS, we're expecting all sorts of trickle down to other models in the future -- except there's really no place to trickle down on the specs. Perhaps they could drop the Bluetooth, or the "n" spec from the WiFi, but at the end of the day 1GB of RAM and an Atom processor are pretty baseline for netbooks, and we expect something exactly delicious as this netbook from ASUS or elsewhere before the glossy paint is dry on the S101 -- or at least a built-in 3G option in a few weeks to make this thing obsolete. Our other big gripe is with the keyboard. The keys are good-sized and rather tactile for a netbook, but they could certainly be better, and the right shift key is inexplicably on the far side of the up arrow key -- basically unreachable by our mortal pinkie. It makes zero sense from a typing standpoint, and since we tend to over-rely on the right shift key out of bad Mavis Beacon-induced typing habits, we're not stoked about ASUS's choice here. Otherwise there's a nice collection of ports, a great (multi-touch) touchpad, a wonderful matte screen and that pesky hole in our wallet where all our cash used to be.
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ASUS Eee PC S101 hands-on