While the two use the same 8.9-inch, 1,024x600-pixel display, there are many notable differences between the features on the Eee PC 900 and 901. The most important change is the move to an Intel N270 Atom CPU, clocked at 1.6GHz -- an improvement over the 900MHz Intel Pentium M on the 900.
Atom chips promise improved performance as well as better energy efficiency and longer battery life, but you can find out exactly how it compares later in this review. Both versions of the machine use 1GB of RAM, but since there's one DIMM slot, this can only be upgraded by switching to a 2GB DIMM.
The Eee PC 901 will be sold in two varieties. The Windows XP model gets 12GB of storage, while the Linux model gets 20GB of storage. The reasoning behind this is fairly straightforward -- laptops with Windows cost more to 'produce' because Microsoft charges a fee for the Windows XP licence. Since this fee doesn't apply to Linux, any money saved can be spent on increased disk capacity.
We'd recommend buying the Linux model, then -- if you already have a valid licence -- installing a copy of Windows XP. The Linux operating system used on the Eee is fine for most purposes and there are even more pre-installed applications than on the 900, but it still lacks the flexibility of Windows XP. There are no parental controls on the Linux model, for example; you should be aware of this if you're letting young kids use the machine.
Interestingly, storage is less of an issue this time round, because both versions of the Eee PC 901 come with 20GB of free online backup space. This is provided by Yo Store. Exactly for how long this storage is provided is unconfirmed, but we'll update this review with that information as soon as we get it. As before, extra storage can be added by installing a large SD card into the SD card reader on the right side of the laptop.
Wireless 802.11b/g is standard, as you might expect, but the Eee PC 901 now sports 802.11n Wi-Fi. For those of you who have an 802.11n router, this means data transfer speeds that are up to 70 times faster than traditional 802.11g. We've yet to test this particular implementation -- we'll update this review when we do -- but we'd estimate approximately 150Mbps in real-world scenarios.
Bluetooth is included this time round, which is good news for anyone wanting to establish wireless links between their mobile phone and the 901.