The Taiwanese computermaker Asus burst out of the gate last fall with its Eee PC, priced at $299 (with the Linux operating system) and $399 (with Windows XP). Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, and others have similar machines in the works.
"There's a lot of potential for these products," says Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research in New York. Ultraportable computers have been around for more than a decade, he says. What's new is the low price, making them "attractive as perhaps a second or third computer for a household, or a primary computer for a student."
They represent the idea of the "ubiquitous computer – the computer that you can have with you at all times," he says. These micro-PCs are more likely to eat into laptop sales than threaten even-smaller hand-held devices, phones with extra features such as Web-browsing, Mr. Gartenberg says.