New Eee Box has Radeon HD 3400, HDMI out

Now that's interesting. Asus has announced two new flavors of its low-cost Eee Box nettop that combine Intel Atom processors with discrete AMD graphics processors—and HDMI video output capabilities.

The Eee Box B204 and B206 have the same 1.6GHz Atom N270 processors as the B202 model we reviewed in August. The new machines also have 1GB of DDR2 RAM, 160GB 5,400-RPM hard drives, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, and Radeon HD 3400-series graphics processors with 256MB of DDR2 memory and HDMI output. Asus complements the B204 model with Bluetooth support and a battery that doubles as an uninterruptible power supply.

Radeon HD 3400 GPUs aren't the fastest around by any stretch of the term. However, Asus points out that they can accelerate high-definition video playback. Thanks to the HDMI connection, the Eee Box could even double as a cheap media center PC. You'll probably want to replace the bundled copy of Windows XP Home Edition with a more home theater-friendly operating system, though—perhaps Windows XP Media Center Edition or Windows Vista Home Premium.

Oh, and those who feel like attempting to play DVD or Blu-ray movies will need to hook up an external drive, since none of the Eee Box nettops have built-in optical drives.

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