Almost seven years ago, ASUS tried to launch the $199 Eee PC Linux laptop that ended up costing above $300, and since then the Eee brand shifted its focus to the more premium market before quietly fading away. That's why we're slightly surprised to see ASUS launching the EeeBook X205 -- not to be confused with ASUS' dual-screen concept device -- at IFA today. It's an 11.6-inch Windows 8.1 laptop that'll cost just $199 (or €199; both including tax). If all goes well, this will be another very affordable option alongside the leaked HP Stream 14 of the same price and operating system, and it'll even be cheaper than ASUS' own Chromebooks.
The X205 weighs only 980 grams and packs a quad-core Intel Atom T3735 Bay Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, a 1,366 x 768 LED backlit screen, a VGA webcam, a microSDXC slot and a micro-HDMI socket. The machine -- available in black, white, gold or red -- boasts a full-size keyboard along with a large trackpad, and its 38Wh battery claims to offer up to 12 hours of web-browsing time. In terms of storage, you can choose either 32GB or 64GB of flash memory, in addition to a generous amount of free cloud storage space: 15GB of Microsoft OneDrive for life, plus 100GB of OneDrive and 500GB of ASUS WebStorage for two years.
There's no word on the exact launch date for the X205, but we've been told that it'll become available some time between late Q3 and early Q4 this year. Let's see if HP can beat that, and more importantly, here's hoping both companies can deliver on their promises.
Update: We've now had a chance to spend a few minutes with the EeeBook X205 and, if we're honest, it's akin to stepping into a parallel world where tablets never went mainstream. Those who remember toiling away with a netbook will be surprised at how thin and light the device is, thanks in part to Intel's power-sipping Bay Trail CPU.
Despite sitting in a similar class to small Windows 8 tablets, there's no touchscreen here, so all of your computing will be done through the keyboard and mouse. As impressive as the size of the EeeBook's keyboard is, the feel is very spongy, despite more travel than on its predecessor. The same problem carries over to the clickpad, which is sufficiently sluggish that you keep pawing at the screen in the hope of it responding to your commands. Given that, from what little we've seen, performance also leaves something to be desired, but I guess there's a reason that you'll be able to pick this up for just $199.