The ASAP and ScreenDuo elements of Asus' Vista Edition lineup aren't likely to create controversy, but a rather innocuous-looking 20-pin header located at the bottom of the board might bunch the britches of the tinfoil hat crowd. This header is designed to support a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) capable of generating secure cryptographic keys, verifying software authenticity, enforcing digital rights management schemes, slowly eroding your fair use rights, clubbing baby seals, and contributing to global warming. Ok, maybe not that last one.
The M2N32-SLI Premium supports version 1.2 TPM modules, although Asus doesn't bundle one with the board. At least you won't be sacrificed on the altar of draconian DRM by default. Those looking to take advantage of the BitLocker drive encryption scheme available in Enterprise and Ultimate flavors of Windows Vista will need a TPM module, though. Through BitLocker, Vista can secure the entire contents of a drive using 128-bit AES encryption; it can also verify the integrity of early boot files and lock a hard drive to a single system.
BitLocker is going to be overkill for the vast majority of users, so it's probably a good idea that Asus isn't actually bundling a TPM unit with its Vista Edition motherboards. No one wants to pay extra for a feature they'll never use. Still, in the interest of supporting all of Vista's new bells and whistles, it's nice to see that Asus' Vista Edition mobos do have TPM support.
Raise the remote
Asus' AI Remote isn't technically limited to the company's Vista Edition motherboards, and it isn't actually tied to any Vista-specific features. Still, with a couple of minutes of fiddling, it does complement Vista's Media Center functionality very nicely.
The AI Remote is relatively small, with just a handful of buttons and a basic USB IR dongle. Things get considerably more interesting when we fire up the AI Remote software, which reveals support for multiple profiles and custom button mapping.
All but a few of the remote's buttons are open to some form of remapping, and users can bind six of them to just about any key they desire. This capability allows one to create a custom profile that's just good enough to muddle through the Media Center interface included with Home Premium and Ultimate versions of Vista. Sure, you don't get all the functionality of an official Media Center remote, but there's only so much you can ask from a motherboard freebie. We would like to see Asus create an official profile for Windows Media Center in its AI Remote software so users don't have to roll their own, though. That would only be appropriate for a Vista Edition motherboard.
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