Asus certainly made a splash this year with their line of ultra-light, ultra-affordable Eee PC notebooks and they've been fleshing out the product line ever since with a wealth of new offerings, as the company continues to milk the product's successful brand name recognition for all it's worth. Since their initial release we've seen a number of different notebook-based Eee PC products come to market, including machines pre-loaded with either Windows XP or Linux operating systems. In addition, Asus has even brought out larger models, with the 10" display and near full size keyboard of the Eee PC 1000 series of notebooks, not to mention larger storage options and systems based on the new Intel Atom processor.
And the end-user and modder community following that the Eee PC product line has garnered is something straight out of a business management text book case study. How a company was able to create such a buzz and following behind a product line is something to observe and a success story that competitors will envy for product launches to come. For starters, it's obviously safe to say that Asus put plenty of engineering resources behind their Eee PC project and you almost have to wonder, are they done yet? Not quite. In the realm of small form-factor, low cost computing, there's another market niche' that, believe it or not, the Eee product line has yet to bring out an offering for -- the low cost desktop.
Today marks the introduction of the $349 Asus Eee Box but we've had a unit in house for the better part of a month now. Just what does $349 buy you in terms of capabilities and features, in an absolutely tiny footprint? You're about to find out.
|Processor: Intel Atom N270 (1.6 GHz, FSB 533)
Memory: DDRII-400 512 MB / 1 GB
Storage: 80 GB
VGA: On-board Intel GMA 950
SD/MMC/MS slot: SD, SDHC, Mini SD, (Micro SD through adapter) ; MMC, MMC plus, MMC4.x, RS MMC, RSMMC4.x (MMC mobile through adapter);MS,MS PRO
Dimensions: 8.5" x 7" x 1"
OS: Windows XP Home Edition
The Asus Eee Box is built around Intel's new Atom N270 processor, and as you can imagine, it just sips power. We'll have more detail on this later but you'll note that the processor is clocked at a healthy 1.6GHz with a 533MHz FSB. Our system came configured with 1GB of DDR2-400 system memory, though higher densities, as well as 512MB configurations, will be available too. The Eee Box is also based on the Intel 945GSE Express mobile chipset with integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics and an ICH7 companion Southbridge I/O controller hub for enabling its SATA, USB and Gig-E LAN connections. You'll also notice the machine is equipped with Realtek's ALC888 Azalia HD audio CODEC, but does only come with a single stereo audio output jack, though it also offers a combination S/PDIF output to any standard audio amplifier for a wider range of high fidelity stereo output.
Asus bundles the US configuration of the Eee Box with a USB keyboard and mouse, so the only thing you'll need is a monitor with DVI input, to be up and running, though a standard VGA connection can also be driven with a DVI-to-VGA adapter. The Eee Box kit comes with a detailed User's Manual, a Quick Start Guide, a warranty card, and a couple of DVDs - one with the System Recovery image and the other a Support CD that contains a number of useful tools for reconfiguring or restoring the Eee Box, including a utility to create a bootable thumb drive with the factory OS image. In addition to these items, Asus also included a 65W power adapter as well as a Vesa 100 adapter plate that actually allows you to mount the Eee Box on the backside of an LCD screen.