Just over a year ago, ASUS made some big waves in the mobile computing world with the launch of the Eee PC. The idea was to make an ultra small laptop that could provide "enough" computing power for a very low price -- something like an oversized PDA but with a full OS and a standard user interface. The concept seems simple and obvious in retrospect, and the Eee PC has created an entirely new category of laptop: the netbook. Competition in this market that ASUS spawned has become fierce, with Dell, HP, Acer, and others now shipping netbook PCs ranging in size from the same 7" chassis as the original Eee PC up to 10" models.

One of the interesting corollaries to this whole story is the ultraportable market, typically consisting of 10" to 12" laptops designed for corporate users that want mobility and a lightweight form factor above all else. We've reviewed a few of these laptops over the years, and we always end up with the impression that, sure, these things are light and offer good battery life, but performance is often terrible and frankly the cost is often a major deterrent. It's not unusual to see prices upwards of $2000 for such a laptop, so mostly they end up in the hands of corporate employees.

So we now have the $300 to $500 netbook and the $1500+ ultraportable markets, but there's a gaping hole for those that would like a small, inexpensive PC like a netbook, but with better quality, features, and performance. Enter the ASUS N10JC, which ASUS is billing as a "corporate netbook". What makes this more of a corporate netbook than something like the Eee PC 1000? Only a few minor differences, really: an exterior that looks a little nicer, a larger battery, a fingerprint scanner, and a two-year global ASUS warranty. Those are all nice things to have, certainly, and alone they might be enough to convince people to shell out the extra money.

There's a bit more to sweeten the pot, however, like the inclusion of an NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS 256MB. The LCD panel may also be a bit better -- certainly the N10JC has a good panel, but we haven't personally used the Eee PC 1000 so we're not sure if it's the same panel or not. The entire package is still very reasonably priced too, at just $650. The interesting question is going to be how well this netbook performs in comparison to some of the ultraportables we've reviewed, like ASUS' own U2E and U6V -- both laptops that cost over twice as much.

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  • Penti - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    As I said before you wrote your post is that Vista Business includes downgrade rights (without volume license so small businesses can use it too even if they don't want to purchase SA via some license agreement).

    So there is a Asus N10 laptop for corporate use that has Vista business on it, the N10J-A2 I mentioned. A business version of the same netbook. So it has nothing to do with restriction but rather that this is a consumer variant / version of the somewhat business-oriented N10-series. It can have XP Pro preinstalled it's just that you need a VB license COA. And that it costs about 100 dollars more then XP Home for low end netbooks. It's cheaper then to get a retail (FPP) copy of XP Pro or Vista though. That would cost more then most netbooks. XP H can't be included in volume licenses.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    ASUS is the one stating it's a "corporate" netbook, and outside of XP Home instead of Pro I think it succeeds well enough. It's not a corporate *laptop* by any means, but it can do what many traveling people would do. I went on a trip a week ago and used this laptop on the road; it was great to work in the airport for two hours (delayed flight) and then catch a two hour plane ride and still end up with nearly 50% battery remaining.
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    I use my Eee 701 for "business" all the time, and I use Ubuntu + Open Office. Basically, I need it for viewing excel spreadsheets and hitting the internet in a pinch. It works well enough, and any critical documents stay on a thumb drive for easy moving about. I find there's no substitute for a full PC-interface when it comes to some things, and this Eee has served me well. In fact, I just read this entire article and posted this comment on my 701. Thanks, Anandtech, for a low-res-friendly website!
  • skaaman - Sunday, December 28, 2008 - link

    I think the point to be made here is that XP Home can't connect to a domain and therefore isn't an option in a corporate environment or small business environments. As was noted Vista business includes downgrade rights to XP Pro and therefore would fit the bill.
  • Penti - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    Well it's still a consumer netbook and not a "corporate netbook" if it hasn't VB (the only way to run XP Pro at home today apart from in the business). It's still the same hardware as their corporate version though, just that it has 1GB and 160GB instead of 2GB of ram and 320GB drive. You can't connect to a corporate network without at least XP Pro. Of course it lacks security features such as TPM/Bitlocker too. But truecrypt is always an alternative. Of course lacking built in 3G modem is also a downside on business stuff. I wouldn't buy one without, using it as a terminal would be what it's used for and useful for. You don't need more performance to run RDP / Citrix.

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