Asus unveils new Eee "Multimedia Netbook"

New Eee is first with Nvidia ION and Intel dual core Atom
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Asus revealed the Atom and ION equipped Eee PC 1215N on Facebook but so far no pricing or availability has been revealed. 

The 1215N is the latest in an impressive line-up of Eee-branded products and the first device cited to feature Nvidia's ION 2 discreet graphics and Intel's dual-core Atom the 1.8GHz D525.

Asus described the 1215N as "defying convention" and indeed for a netbook it boasts unusually high specifications. However being as it's based on a 12-inch screen we would question whether this is really a netbook at all. Would an Ion and dual-core Atom based ultra-portable be considered defying convention? 

Asus uses the term "multimedia netbook", which seems another way of broadening what a netbook can do. Indeed the 1366 x 768 screen and the horsepower on board will allow for HD video playback of H264 and VC1 encoded video even if it doesn't quite have the pixels for it. For that reason the 1215N is equipped with a HDMI port to allow it to be plugged into a larger full-HD display.

Elsewhere the 1215N looks generously equipped with modern interconnectivity standards such as the 4.8GB/s USB 3.0 and the eight-fold faster Bluetooth 3.0 as well as the now ubiquitous 802.11n Wi-Fi capability. 

Interestingly Asus point to the 1215N being capable of charging mobile phones via USB when the device is powered off. Many notebooks have been able to do this if the owner changes a BIOS setting to keep the USB ports powered during power-down but it's probably reasonable to assume Asus have ensured the battery penalty isn't so great on the 1215N.

Ever since the Taiwanese manufacturer virtually created the netbook category with the original Eee PC, dramatic changes have been seen at throughout the entire range of luggable PCs.

Specifications of netbooks have continued to rise and the cost of higher spec entry level ultra-portables have correspondingly continued to fall. The 1215N appears to mark the point at which the two categories of devices have finally merged if only because Asus calls the 1215N a netbook.

A desktop-style processor and discrete graphics surely don't limit the 1215N to Internet operations versus ultra-portables. We might suggest that Asus considers that the story about how much more capable the new "netbooks" are is a more natural fit with the strong Eee brand. 

Either way, assuming the pricing is in the realms of the netbook, the 1215N looks like it might be a cracker. Now if only we couldn't get specs like that in something a little smaller without resorting to bank breaking ultra-portables like the Sony X-series.

The Asus Eee PC 1215N page on Facebook. 

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