Asus debuts S121 netbook with Windows 7 and 512GB SSD

Asus debuted the S121 with Windows 7 and a 512GB SSD.

Asustek Computer on Tuesday debuted an ultra-thin, light netbook called the S121 with two new technologies, Microsoft's yet-to-be released Windows 7 OS and the world's largest solid state drive (SSD) at 512GB.

The S121 is just under an inch thick and is 11.7-inches by 8.3-inches, weighs about 3 lbs and carries a touchscreen that runs a specialized software Asustek developed for easy touch navigation.

The use of Asus's touch mode software on Microsoft's Windows 7 OS shows how closely the two companies are working together.

"We're deeply partnered with Asus on Windows 7," said David Fester, general marketing manager at Microsoft's OEM division, at a news conference ahead of the International Consumer Electronics Show, which opens Thursday in Las Vegas.

And although the S121 will be available about a month from now, it probably won't come with Windows 7. The new OS isn't slated to hit markets until next year, although some pundits say it could be released as early as mid-2009.

The new netbook will also "cost quite a bit," said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, around US$1,649 due to the 512GB SSD on board. He said Asus used its own technology to build the SSD.

SSD technology generally promises speedier software loading than HDDs (hard disk drives) and better power efficiency. But SSDs are far more expensive than HDDs and they don't last as long.

In fact, some analysts at the Storage Visions conference currently going on in Las Vegas, warned users to beware of some SSD technology because of the wide range of quality among SSD makers. Some companies may be using less expensive, but lower quality chips in their SSDs. One of the key components on an SSD to ensure smooth, fast running, is the controller chip, but high quality controller chips for SSDs are expensive, and some makers have turned to using controller chips made for USB flash sticks in their SSDs, leading to far slower write times and reliability.

Asustek's 512GB SSD announcement comes just a few weeks after Toshiba revealed its own 512GB SSD for laptops. Few other companies have announced SSDs with such large storage capacity.

The S121 will come with a 1.33GHz Intel Atom microprocessor. Few other details about the device were immediately available.

Netbooks are miniaturized notebooks about two-thirds the size of a normal laptop that have become popular for mobile computing and Internet use. The devices are designed with less powerful chips and other components so they're more battery efficient, cost less and usually weigh just a few kilograms.

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