image The Asus Eee PC 900 is to reach retailers’ shelves in the U.S. on May 12.

With an 8.9 inch screen and 1024 by 600 res, the new Asus could be a more promising bet for e-bookers than the current Eee PC 701. The latter’s screen is just seven inches and the res is less.

No, I’m not saying that the 900, selling for $549 and up, would be the ideal gizmo for e-reading. But if you need a general-purpose laptop anyway, it might be something to consider. Trusted Reviews, source of the Asus-related images, gives the 900 a glowing write-up, and if the 900 is like the 701, it will include FBReader, which can read the the IDPF‘s ePub format. Also, touchpad’s two-finger scrolling capability might be of interest.

image Possibly a still better alternative: The HP Mini, selling  in various flavors for $499+ with its own 8.9 inch screen and 1280 by 768 resolution. Like the 701, it offers both linux and Windows options.

Detail: I suspect that the image below doesn’t do full justice to the clarify of the 900′s screen. If nothing else, however, it suggests that the 900 could be better than the 701 for Web browsing, because of an improved aspect ratio. “The 1,024 wide screen makes the Eee PC 900 a joy to use,” says Trusted Reviews, “especially if you spend a lot of your time in a browser window.”