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Hey Asus, where's the $199 Eee PC?

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Last week Asus finally revealed pricing and specs for their much anticipated Eee PC ultra-portable laptop. Anticipated not so much for the specs -- 7-inch LED-backlit LCD, 2 to 8GB of flash storage, up to 1GB memory, WiFi, and webcam -- but for the low, low $199 retail price. Rightly, more than a few of us were dismayed when the entry-level model was revealed to actually cost as much as US$358 in Taiwan and an expected $300 (pre-tax) price when launching Stateside before the month is out. The culprit? Well, according to DigiTimes' Taiwanese component insiders the relatively steep price is in large part due to an unexpectedly high cost for the 7-inch LCD panels. Asus had expected to source the panels for about $15 each but found themselves paying AU Optronics (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) up to twice as much for the hardware. Feel better for knowing? Yeah, didn't think so.

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