An absolutely classic article from Mike Elgan:

Who in the hell is Asustek, and why does Microsoft hate them more than any other company in the industry? Why does Apple, Dell and Palm Computing hate them?

And why does Intel love them?

Taiwan's Asustek -- better known as ASUS -- is one of the most interesting, innovative and fastest-growing companies in technology.

At its core, Asustek makes motherboards -- more than any other company. Asustek motherboards are the heart of Sony's PlayStation 2 consoles, Apple MacBooks, Alienware PCs, and some HP computers.

But that's not why they're hated. The source of ire is a tiny laptop called the ASUS Eee PC. This open, flexible, relatively powerful, and very small laptop is notable for one feature above all: Its price. The Eee PC can be had for as little as $299.

Let's take a moment to ponder how cheap that is. This full-featured laptop costs $69 less than the 16 GB Apple iPod Touch. It's $100 less than an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. The most expensive configuration for the ASUS Eee PC on Amazon.com is $499.

The device also comes with OpenOffice, a Microsoft Office replacement, and Firefox. The entire system -- hardware, OS, office suite and applications -- costs $30 less than Amazon.com's discounted price for Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate alone.

Those price comparisons are a fascinating way to look at this device which, yes, is underpowered, too small for most people, and runs Linux and not, ahem, a real operating system. (Relax, that was a joke.) But my goodness. It is amazing what you get for $299 here. I may have to get one of these.