ASUS’s Eee Box B202 small form factor PC

When Asus released the Eee PC, it introduced a brand-new class of notebook to the market. Asus’s goal seemed fairly simple: to create a notebook as inexpensive and portable as possible. In doing so, it recognized our most common computing tasks—Internet use and word processing—and used those tasks as a baseline for the hardware. The result was a machine designed around a “waste not, want not” sort of philosophy coupled with a recognition that oftentimes, notebooks are used not as a primary computer, but as a secondary companion.

Released at an attractively low $299 price point, the Eee PC was such a runaway success that it led Asus to spin off an entire Eee division and brand, and inspired countless imitators from major competitors such as Dell, HP, and Acer. Recently, even Lenovo has gotten in on the action, announcing the IdeaPad S10 as the latest competitor in this new class of notebook popularly dubbed the “netbook.”

Emboldened by the success of the Eee PC, and with its new Eee division blossoming, Asus seeks to do for the desktop market what it did for notebooks. Many of the ideas the Eee PC was built around also apply to desktops, so it stands to reason a similar bare-essentials approach could be just as effective in a small form factor PC. Thus, the Eee Box was born.

Introducing the Eee Box B202

Asus’s Eee Box B202 can be considered neither as the big nor the little brother of the Eee PC. Asus took the same critical eye to desktops with the Eee Box that it did to laptops with the Eee PC. The result is a PC that’s superficially similar to its laptop cousin, but differs from it in several key respects.

First, the Eee Box has one notable advantage that the Eee PC didn’t have at the time of release: Intel’s Atom processor. While the Eee PC had to make do with a substantially underclocked Celeron M, the Eee Box comes out of the gate equipped with a highly optimized low-power processor, potentially improving performance while reducing power consumption.

The other key difference, of course, is in aesthetics. The overarching reaction to the Eee Box that I’ve experienced since unpacking the review unit has been, “How adorable!” Asus has created a tiny, sleek PC that rivals and in some ways exceeds the design of Apple’s Mac Mini. The B202’s omission of a built-in optical drive, coupled with extremely low power consumption (and accordingly low heat production), produces a box that measures just 8.5″ x 7″ x 1″, which is thinner than the Mac Mini and, indeed, even substantially smaller than a Mini-ITX board. In order to maximize the efficient use of space, the Eee Box ships with both a stand and a wall mount. The unit is meant to stand vertically, and its remarkably thin profile won’t take up much space no matter where you put it.

The Eee Box in all its glory.

As I mentioned before, the Eee Box comes equipped with an Intel Atom processor, in this case an N270 clocked at 1.6GHz with Hyper-Threading enabled. This is more or less the mobile variant of the Atom 230 chip we played with last week. Supporting the processor is what may be the weak link in Intel’s existing Atom strategy: the same 945 chipset that was paired with the Celeron M in the original Eee PC. This venerable chipset brings with it support for dual-channel DDR2 memory at 400 or 533MHz along with the ICH7 south bridge, and while these aren’t real drawbacks—the Atom isn’t powerful enough to require a more robust chipset—the chipset’s integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 950 is. Later on, we’ll see the impact Intel’s GMA 950 has on the overall performance of the Eee Box.

The 945 chipset also brings unncessary power consumption. If you take a look at the Mini-ITX board Intel designed for the Atom, the heatsink configuration seems superficially normal: a tiny heatsink on the chipset and a larger one with a fan to cool the processor. But it’s actually the other way around: the tiny heatsink is all that’s needed to cool the Atom, while the 945 chipset requires more robust, active cooling. It seems counterintuitive that an x86 processor can sip power and run happily with the most minimal of cooling while the less complex chipset behind it is producing the lion’s share of heat and drawing the majority of the power going into the machine. One wonders how much smaller still Asus might have been able to make the Eee Box if Intel had turned its engineering genius on the chipset supporting the Atom.

So what else is in the box? Our review unit arrived outfitted with 1GB of DDR2-400 RAM running at exceptionally tight 3-3-3-9 timings. Curiously, despite the presence of a pair of 512MB DIMMs in the unit, a visit to Everest notes that the memory is running on a single channel. The memory controller itself is dual-channel-capable. Asus says retail units will have a single DIMM installed and a slot free, but realistically, 1GB of single-channel memory is plenty for this type of computer. Asus also mentioned that users should be able to upgrade the memory by popping off one of the unit’s side panels with a putty knife, and that won’t void the device’s warranty. Asus won’t service the replacement parts, though.

The front shield, the front shield pulled back, and the rear of the unit.

On the front of the unit in the image above, you can see the hard disk light, power button, flash reader, two USB 2.0 ports, and headphone and microphone jacks. The ports are hidden behind a hinge-mounted shield that tastefully accentuates the Eee Box’s credentials as a basic computing appliance.

The rear of the Eee Box is outfitted with a wireless antenna connected to a Ralink 802.11n networking adapter, a power jack that connects to a separate AC adapter unit, a DVI port, two more USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit-capable Ethernet jack, and a speaker jack. Asus made the somewhat unusual decision to employ a DVI port as opposed to an analog D-SUB port. Today’s budget monitors are still largely equipped with D-SUB ports only, so Asus is throwing a DVI-to-VGA adapter into the Eee Box’s, er, box, as well.

Remove the two retaining screws, pull the clip out, and the hard disk tray is visible.

The Eee Box also includes an 80GB, 5,400-RPM 2.5″ Seagate hard disk. This is a great compromise: I expected a 1.8″ drive running at a not-so-scorching 4,200RPM, so I was happy to see a faster drive in the B202. While the drive isn’t particularly fast, it’s snappy enough for the tasks at hand, and it’s user-upgradeable through a slot on the bottom of the unit. Two retention screws can be removed, and from there you can use a small, flathead screwdriver to “unlock” the tray and slide it out. Replacing the hard drive won’t void your warranty, although our review unit actually had an “Eee Box” sticker that would have to be removed or broken to access the hard drive tray.

The first wave of Eee Box B202 systems come pre-installed with Windows XP Home Edition. Asus plans to offer slightly less expensive Linux flavors, as well.

Initial impressions

If the blue LEDs behind the power button and hard disk activity light didn’t glow, I’m not sure you’d have any idea the Eee Box was on. It really is that silent. Even when pushing the Atom processor and hard disk with high-definition video, you’ll be hard pressed to hear anything unless you put your ear up next to the Eee’s exhaust vent. Even the hard drive seek noise is completely inaudible. The B202 is easily the quietest computer I’ve ever used, and as someone who has gone through six laptops and used Antec Sonata cases for the vast majority of his desktop builds, that’s saying something.
Unfortunately, my experience with the Eee Box took a slight downhill turn from here. The DVI output could be charitably described as quirky. I tested the Eee Box using two different monitors: a 24″ LG L246WP-BN widescreen flat panel and a 17″ Sony standard aspect, both over DVI. While the Eee Box had no problems with the Sony, it seemed to get more than a little confused by my LG, locking the monitor to 1024×768. In particular, the top and bottom of the BIOS screen was cut off, and no amount of fiddling in the monitor’s controls could correct it. Again, the Sony had no problems, and once I plugged the LG back into my desktop machine, the monitor was right as rain. It’s entirely possible that this is due to a limitation with the GMA 950; its specifications list display resolutions up to 2048×1536, but I’ve seen implementations that are capped at 1600×1200, and that may be the case here. Still, it’s a limitation that bears mentioning for those who might have planned on using the Eee Box with a high-resolution display.

Beyond the resolution issues, I also found the quality of the image scaling at non-native resolutions to be somewhat poor. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the image quality of the Radeon HD 3850s I use in my desktop machine, but the GMA 950’s scaled images look slightly duller and blurrier. If you’ve seen the middling scaling quality of the initial GeForce 8800 series, the GMA 950’s unusually blurry edges will feel familiar.

Another issue I had with our review unit had to do with its speaker jack. The sound levels were remarkably low from that jack, while the headphone plug at the front produced normal audio levels. Based on a conversation with Asus, I suspect this is an isolated problem particular to the Eee Box we were sent, but it bears noting just the same.

Now, with those gripes aside, what the Eee Box does right, it does very right. I use a wireless mouse that I keep plugged into my USB keyboard, and the Eee Box had no trouble detecting and using both. This may seem like a small thing, but I’ve run into my fair share of instances where I had to to dig out a PS/2 keyboard to get a computer to work or to enter the BIOS. Seeing my slightly unorthodox solution have no problems whatsoever was welcome.

The silent operation of the unit is impressive, as I mentioned before, and overall responsiveness is as good as can be expected from this sort of hardware. Hard disk LEDs can be a potential source of irritation, but I found the light levels from the Eee Box to be reasonable, and I wouldn’t mind keeping the system on a desktop right next to a monitor. I haven’t seen the white version of the Eee Box in person, but I can tell you that the old adage “black goes with everything” is appropriate with the model we tested; our black review unit had no trouble blending in with its environment.

Living in Windows

The Eee Box’s Windows XP boot times aren’t terribly fast, but it’s the processes loaded by the operating system that really drag on. The B202 takes upwards of a minute before it boots to a useful, fully loaded desktop, and the chief culprit is Asus’s curious decision to go with a 90-day Norton Antivirus trial on our review unit. The program feels a bit too large and bloated to be running on a computer as pared down as the Eee Box, and the result is a substantial wait between when the desktop loads and when Norton finally appears in the system tray. Fortunately, Norton won’t be included on retail Eee Box systems.

Desktop

The rest of the processes the Eee Box loads into the system tray are all reasonable. Beyond the Windows defaults, the only additional applications are Asus’ Easy Update software and Realtek’s tray manager for audio.

Mercifully, Asus doesn’t include the mountain of bloatware you would expect from a similarly priced system at your local Best Buy. Our review unit’s software payload was very sparse, although Asus informs us that the shipping retail units will include StarOffice and Microsoft Works. Neither of these are unwelcome inclusions, and their addition should maintain a largely bloat-free install that other manufacturers would do well to emulate.

Windows XP remained relatively snappy and the wireless connectivity was solid and reliable, detecting my router with no trouble. The default Internet Explorer 7 browser felt a little sluggish, though, and you might want to install Firefox instead. Firefox seems to do a better job of handling YouTube videos, which, when viewed through Internet Explorer, tend to hiccup if you so much as move the mouse.

Windows certainly isn’t as responsive on the Eee Box as on a modern desktop machine, but if all you’re planning on doing is checking e-mail, instant messaging, surfing the web, and doing a little word processing, the B202 fits the bill just fine. If you used a desktop computer circa 2002, you’ll find using the Eee Box is a similar experience.

Multimedia

As I mentioned before, the Eee Box handles YouTube with aplomb (provided you’re using Firefox), and will be more than happy to copy and e-mail photos off your SD card. Yet as Scott mentioned in his Atom vs. Nano review, the Atom isn’t ideal for doing any kind of real Photoshop work; it’s better suited for simple image manipulation like a quick red-eye removal filter.
Video playback is a major point of weakness for the 945 chipset’s GMA 950. The GMA 950’s hardware video decoding capabilities are fairly sparse, and this proves to be a real issue when paired with a low-power processor like the Atom. To test the video capabilities of the Eee Box, I encoded one of my short films into 480p, 720p, and 1080p WMV files. The playback results were not encouraging.

The 480p video ran without a hitch in Windows Media Player 9, but the 720p version began to show small stutters here and there. The stutters weren’t major, but a picky viewer would find them a bit agitating.

Unfortunately, 1080p playback is simply beyond the Eee Box’s capabilities. Some bits of our highest resolution video played back smoothly, but any major changes in the image resulted in fits of lag lasting at least a couple of seconds, rendering the video as a whole largely unwatchable. Because of this difficulty and the infrequent but noticeable stutters during 720p playback, I can’t recommend using the Eee Box for watching high-definition content. YouTube and other video rendered at or below standard definition runs perfectly fine, but the Atom and GM950 can’t handle much more.

This reality leads to a disappointment. Something like the Eee Box could potentially be an ideal multimedia machine, but Intel’s decision to tie the Atom to the 945 chipset is a real hindrance. Even an inexpensive GPU like a Radeon HD 2400 could mitigate the weaknesses of the GMA 950. Unfortunately, Intel is reportedly preventing partners from including PCI Express interfaces on their Atom-based Mini-ITX boards, and it stands to reason that this limitation extends to OEM designs like the Eee Box. Atom system builders may be forced to rely on Intel for the platform’s graphics component, which makes it hard to blame Asus alone for the Eee Box’s high-definition playback shortcomings.

BIOS settings

If you’ve ever wandered into a laptop BIOS, you may find the Eee Box spartan layout and limited functionality fairly familiar.

BIOS

The BIOS options available in the Eee Box are decidedly—though appropriately—sparse, but there are little treats here and there. Users have limited access to CPU clock speeds along with the core speed of the GMA 950, but the options given are very abstract with the former and underwhelming with the latter. The GMA 950 can only be clocked up to 266MHz, and CPU overclocking is limited to confusing and ultimately useless settings like “High.” As a result, the frequency settings page is probably best left alone. There doesn’t seem to be much additional performance to be wrung from this little machine.

The memory tab is similarly bare, though one can at least choose between DDR2-400 and DDR2-533 speeds. This kind of tweaking probably won’t do a whole lot for the Eee Box, though.

ezflash

The rest of the BIOS is standard fare, although the inclusion of Asus’ EZ Flash 2 is certainly welcome. The EZ Flash utility is built into the BIOS and allows for easy updates from a flash drive, the hard disk, or just about any storage medium connected to the machine. While this seems like a simple and necessary inclusion for a system without a floppy drive, many desktop boards from top-tier manufacturers still don’t have a similar utility.

Express Gate

Asus plans to include Express Gate on all its motherboards, so it’s fitting to see the instant-on OS make an appearance in the Eee Box. Express Gate is a pre-OS desktop environment filled with the bare essentials, providing access to the most basic apps without booting into Windows.

ExpressGate

Express Gate can be quickly booted when you turn the Eee Box on, and it offers a decent amount of configurability and four main options: a web surfing application that appears to be an implementation of Firefox, a chat and IM application in the form of Pidgin, a photo manager remarkably well-linked to your Windows installation, and Skype.

Again, pushing the idea of the Eee Box as a potential multimedia device, I went ahead and visited YouTube. Happily, videos again played back stutter-free, reinforcing my suspicions that the hitching I experienced in Internet Explorer was chiefly that browser’s fault.

Express Gate’s photo manager is fairly novel, though it runs a bit sluggishly and takes a little time to load thumbnails for the images in a given directory. The app can read images from anything you plug into the Eee Box, and uploading to Flickr requires just the click of a button, which is a great touch.

The one real hitch I experienced with Express Gate was wireless connectivity. For some odd reason, the software was able to find just about every wireless router in range except for mine. In fairness, though, my router is a bit of a temperamental piece of hardware (a Linksys WRT54G v5 configured to use WPA-PSK), so I’m not apt to hold this against the Eee Box.

The utility of Express Gate makes a pretty strong case for going with a Linux-based Eee Box as opposed to the Windows version. Windows XP is designed to run on a broad base of PCs, but it may be a little too bloated for something as pared down as the B202. Express Gate is fundamentally a Linux-based operating environment whittled down to fit in just 512MB of flash memory. The fact that it offers a substantial amount of functionality, solid performance, and a pleasing aesthetic make a convincing case for running a more robust Linux installation as your primary operating system.

Conclusion

My time with the Eee Box was enjoyable, and the device is full of great ideas. It’s the kind of thing I’d recommend to less computer-literate family and friends, but the limitations of the Atom platform at present—specifically the underwhelming video decoding performance of the processor and the GMA 950 graphics core—make it a more conditional recommendation than I’d like.

Eventually, we have to talk about the value proposition, and here things get a little foggy. Asus is releasing the Eee Box on August 11th, packaged with StarOffice, Microsoft Works, and a keyboard and mouse for $349. Asus is targeting students, and I think that’s a great strategy, but $349 doesn’t take into account the cost of a monitor and speakers. Suddenly, you’re getting into the range occupied by complete desktop systems on sale at your local Best Buy. I was able to find a complete Acer desktop with 19″ monitor and printer on Best Buy’s website for $549, and that’s with a 3GHz AMD Athlon X2. At that point, you have to ask if the slower but sleeker Eee Box is preferable to a more feature-rich desktop machine. It really comes down to your needs and priorities, and the Eee Box’s value proposition becomes potentially less than ideal for a student who may want a more robust system for multimedia work, high-definition video playback, media encoding, or gaming. However, I’d recommend the Eee Box over the Acer desktop in a heartbeat for my folks and my grandparents, or for anyone who just needs a simple Internet and word processing appliance. The Eee Box takes up very little space, draws very little power, and makes no noise—attributes that the average desktop system can’t match.

This incarnation of the Eee Box may not revolutionize the desktop market the way the Eee PC did for notebooks. The Eee PC introduced a reliable ultraportable notebook in a price range where none existed. Low-end desktops are already very affordable, and the form factor of a desktop PC is much less important. After all, you have to carry your notebook around with you, but how often do you have to move your desktop PC? Still, a capable and well-rounded machine like the B202 has an excellent chance of finding a niche with users who want a computer designed to tackle the simple tasks the Eee Box handles best. For those folks, I’d have a very hard time finding a better alternative.

Comments closed
    • peter41
    • 11 years ago

    This computer represents the future i think, and hope. Computers are going to develop in humongous game- and high-performance monsters on the one side and cute little modular home- (mostly multimedia) processor-units.

    full HD-compatibility (and recording capabilities) aside the lay-out of this computer is perfect. Some people see the lack of a disk-drive as a drawback, i see it as logical. This computer looks like what future home-calculating-units should look like: small, low-power, ultralow-noise, modular.

    This particular model looks already a perfect home-entertainment backbone to me, if u can do without full HD. Personally i would be very satisfied with 720p, especially because im a bit of a cheap guy and dont’want 2 invest in full-HD screens yet.

    I hope more manufacturers wil follow up on this design. The newly announced 204/206 models look like realy awesome 2 me. I realy hope more comps with this lay-out wil start 2 apear.

    • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
    • 11 years ago

    The question really is….

    Is that a big cat or a tiny computer?

    Looking at the review I really think the atom is best left to mobile systems, the Nano looks much more suitable for small form factor desktops / cheap systems.

    The atom is amazing for what its really meant for, mobile and long battery life systems.

    Now I’m not comparing the atom to the nano here, they really are in different categories.

    Especially when you consider how limiting Intel is with Atom based systems features, the Nano looks really compelling.

    • Ruiner
    • 11 years ago

    fwiw, the Via nano is nice, but Via’s linux support is less than stellar.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    A real shame that it cant play video properly.

    • Thresher
    • 11 years ago

    This would be perfect for using as a media extender, which I would really like. Unfortunately, the inability to handle even 720p makes it useless for that. That’s a terrible shame because I can see this being a big market percentage.

    • Convert
    • 11 years ago

    It would have been pretty cool if they had an optional vesa mount, meaning you could mount the system to the back of your monitor (for the ones that offer a different mounting spot for the base anyways).

    • drsauced
    • 11 years ago

    We have an application that would be perfect for these things: a touchscreen. When the screen isn’t being touched, all it has to do is run the screensaver. The smallness is perfect because of how the touchscreens are mounted, it can just live behind the screens in the niches. Purrrfect!

    Too bad newegg doesn’t have them in stock, yet.

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    HDMI or DisplayPort would have made this one a winner, *for me*.

    • mirkin
    • 11 years ago

    Some how Asus decided we want to pay Apple prices for low budget hardware.
    We need machines like these with dual NICs and e-sata – they would make perfect low power linux firewalls, and / or servers.

    • Pax-UX
    • 11 years ago

    I think this product is completely pointless. The reason the Eee PC works, is because it’s a self-contained little laptop, you got your screen, keyboard and access to WiFi all rolled up into one sleek unit that can go where you go. While this requires a monitor, full size keyboard / mouse so it’s tied down and lacks the power to be useful as a static setup.

    It seems this is too much like the Eee PC but without any of the portability advantages. What advantages am I getting by having to tie this to a monitor & keyboard? Why a computer literate person would buy one of these is beyond me. It lacks the power to be useful, this need to be able to push 720p perfectly like an AppleTV. As for the Student, the only thing this is good for is a dedicated 24/7 bittorrent client that uses little energy. That said if they had made this into an iMac clone with the computer built into a 17” / 19” monitor then you have something that could be interesting.

    As a cheap desktop alternative that comes packaged with monitor, etc. it might do more harm then good if it can’t do video out of the box. YouTube had problems which I’m very surprised at, IE7 must be some serious blotware.

    Like in your conclusion, there’s cheap power to be had in the desktop arena and cost vs performance doesn’t add up.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 11 years ago

      I was thinking that too. It’s more than small enough to fit on the back of a 19″ LCD, so if you could have a $500 iMac replacement, well that’d be amazing.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Hey Sklavos, can we get a blog post with just pictures of ur cat?

    • MixedPower
    • 11 years ago

    Am I the only one here that has no idea who Dustin Sklavos is?

    On a related note, nice review. If this was your first review, you did a great job and I hope to read more of your stuff in the future. If it wasn’t, you still did a great job but I feel pretty slow for not realizing you were writing reviews until now.

      • scpulp
      • 11 years ago

      I’m Dustin Sklavos, I’m a new writer. I’ll be covering largely mobile related stuff.

      My first article was actually the Centrino 2 launch.

      The cat in the picture is also my cat. 🙂

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah I was wondering when people were going to catch on that this Slkavos character is some of the “new blood” that Scott had mentioned. Luckily, his writing seems to carry the same TR-flavor we’re accustomed to, since not many people seemed to notice or care.

          • MrJP
          • 11 years ago

          Yes, good review, well up to the usual TR high-quality level. Must have missed the Centrino 2 article… Belated “Welcome to TR” to Dustin.

        • CasbahBoy
        • 11 years ago

        Needs more pictures of cat 🙂

          • fpsduck
          • 11 years ago

          I love cat. 🙂

        • b_naresh
        • 11 years ago

        Miaow…me too want cat pics! 😀

          • ssidbroadcast
          • 11 years ago

          Sklavos, it sounds like this cat should be your trademark:

          From now on, every product you review should include a picture of your cat next to it!! 😀

        • VILLAIN_xx
        • 11 years ago
    • mattthemuppet
    • 11 years ago

    Could you do a quick power consumption test please? Something like idle, idle w/ wifi and load (youtube?!) – be very interesting to see how low the consumption is. Thanks 🙂

    • CasbahBoy
    • 11 years ago

    Now this is freaking cool. The two things that have been keeping me from getting that ~$80 Atom barebones that was introduced a while ago were the lack of DVI and the fact that I would need to still go out and buy a case, hard drive, and memory. This would be perfect, and it’s even smaller to boot.

    $300 seems a little steep on the surface, but if the Linux variant was $250 to $275 it would be really hard for me to pass up. I’d nuke whatever it came with, toss Gentoo on the thing and go to town.

    • MBIlover
    • 11 years ago

    If it had a Firewire400 jack I would have been sold on it as a cheap, quiet, DAW. USB2.0 is too processor hungry, especially for a 1.6ghz, and would cause too many hiccups while recording. Pass.

    • Dissonance
    • 11 years ago

    Asus has provided us with some new information on the Eee Box, and we’ve updated the review accordingly. Here’s a quick run-down of the most important changes:

    -Upgrading the systems memory and hard drive will not void the warranty.
    -Retail packaging will include a DVI-to-VGA adapter.
    -Norton Anti-Virus won’t be included with the final package.
    -The retail version will sell with a single 1GB memory module.

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 11 years ago

      Good news all around. Hehe.. poor Norton.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 11 years ago

    As much as I wanted a Nano based box for 24/7 needs, I’ll hold off and stick with my C2D Mini.

      • Synchromesh
      • 11 years ago

      I was pondering replacing my Aopen MiniPC with one of these but now realize that it’s not a good idea. The MiniPC was originally a bit more expensive (although I put it together myself) but it can run circles around this clunker with a full-blown Pentium M and an optical drive. It might be a little louder but that doesn’t bother me much.

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    There’s no way this thing is worth more than $200-250.

    Nice concept, lame price.

    It might sell briskly at first but I can’t imagine strong sales lasting at those prices.

    I could be wrong.

      • Dposcorp
      • 11 years ago

      You are 100% correct flip.

      $200 or so is what this is worth.
      At $349, all of a sudden you are in low end LAPTOP range.

      My sister bought a Toshiba Celeron laptop, 512 ram, 80GB, dvd burner, Vista Basic for $349.

      Same form factor, plus a screen, speakers, and optical drive, + portability for the same price.

      Sorry Asus, your price = FAIL!

        • bthylafh
        • 11 years ago

        Find a computer that can do what this does that’s as small as this one, that costs less.

        Jesus, people. You’re paying for small here. If you don’t want small, you know where to find something else.

          • flip-mode
          • 11 years ago

          The only ace it’s got is size. Its performance and price can easily be equaled or bested. In some scenarios, being the smallest is all that matters. I see most of those scenarios relating to mobility – something this machine isn’t geared toward. Now there are some scenarios where a fixed device still needs to be very small – point of sale could be one. I’m not saying the device doesn’t have its uses, I’m just saying that I think the marked is small.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            It’s size isn’t even that remarkable. Stack two and a half of these together, and you would have a ThinClient kiosk/point-of-sale device that HP built in the late 1990s as the “ePC” with a P3-933 — and the main reason the HP ePC was larger was that it used desktop CPU/RAM/HDD, plus included a laptop CD-ROM.

            • Hattig
            • 11 years ago

            “HP built in the late 1990s as the “ePC” with a P3-933″

            And that hardware configuration is probably still nearly as fast as this Eee Box in many aspects…

            But surely it was early 2000s if it had a near 1GHz PIII?

            #48, I believe that VIA have supplied full documentation on their chipsets and stuff to the Linux community. I don’t know about the support for the documentation, but it is a step. And at least the VIA chipset has hardware video acceleration built in, even if the 3D is dire.

            And can we have some more cat pictures?

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            Yeah, you’re right. I just looked it up again, the 750-1.0 Coppermines were released 12/1999-5/2000. So these machines were probably made sometime in mid-late 2000.

    • Jon
    • 11 years ago

    This would make an excellent linux web server for home needs.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 11 years ago

    A slot loading optical drive, and a discrete graphics chip (i.e., Radeon 24xx) and I’d have bought one. Pity.

    • Voldenuit
    • 11 years ago

    HD playback (or lack thereof) is the nail in the coffin for the little EeePC that couldn’t.

    • bthylafh
    • 11 years ago

    I thought the original Eee came with a 915 chipset.

      • CampinCarl
      • 11 years ago

      The Original EEEPC laptop was also paired with a low-power Celeron, iirc.

      • bthylafh
      • 11 years ago

      Wikipedia says a 910 chipset on the original 700 series.

    • Jigar
    • 11 years ago

    Can i have more pics of that cat ?? Please .. ??

      • Fastfreak39
      • 11 years ago

      I hear ya, I use to have a cat that looked very similar to him or her. We named him Hitch, short for hitchhiker since we found him on the side of a thruway. He lived with my grandparents on a farm and you could scream his name and he would just come pouncing from some field. Gotta love cats…

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    Knock off 50$ and the useless copy of XP and I’m looking more closely.

    Little bitty boxes making no noise and little heat sound good, my wife + daughter would make happy use of email + light web machines. Ubuntu is just dandy for them, and I like the pricing better, too.

    The comments about switching to Nano sound really good too. A Nano-based Box with something mildly more capable for chipset+graphics could be very impressive.

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    Nice box, shame about the chipset, and Intel’s attitude.

    Asus, come out with an equivalent box using a VIA Nano CPU please. Or sweet-talk AMD into a good deal involving a cheap low-end underclocked X2 and the 780V chipset that would at least be able to decode 720p H.264 video.

    For all that Atom is meant to be cheap, systems based around it aren’t coming in much cheaper than those based on far larger and more powerful CPUs, even if the Atom systems are smaller and cooler (excepting the dire 945 chipset they cripple the systems with).

    After a few months with Atom, I find myself saddened about the whole thing. It promised even cheaper systems that could do some good stuff, but in the end it’s provided systems that you could do already with a mobile CPU + chipset if anyone had bothered, and for about the same price, with a crap chipset.

    Maybe when someone couples a dual-core Atom with a decent Intel chipset … but it seems like Intel won’t allow that. So Atom is dead for me, pretty much, for now. The original Mac Mini came out over three years ago, for $150 more, and is still more powerful and featureful than this.

    Good review though.

    • Prototyped
    • 11 years ago

    g[

    • Fastfreak39
    • 11 years ago

    MEEEOOOWWW!!!! God I love cats, they’re so badass

      • 5150
      • 11 years ago

      This seriously made me LOL.

        • Turkina
        • 11 years ago

        Am I the only one that thought, just for a second, “oh my god, that cat is HUGE!” then realized…..

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah actually I’ve been waiting for this review for a while now, but because of SCHOOL I can’t dig into it right now.

      That cat, however, is a real cutey.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    Great review. Thanks!
    A couple of comments.

    I wonder how much of the lackluster video performance is due to it being single-channel memory?

    Also, why the heck is Star Office still around? Open Office will never gain any ground over MS Office if the free stuff is still being split by SO and OO. (not that I particularly like OO, but that’s a different topic).

      • stmok
      • 11 years ago

      l[< I wonder how much of the lackluster video performance is due to it being single-channel memory?<]l The GPU (if you can call it that in this case) and CPU are the main factors when it comes to video playback. If you have a poor performing GPU (little or no support for video playback acceleration) and CPU, its no surprise it can't play certain HD content. What happens when you replace the GMA 900/950 series with something like X4500HD? (using fully supported driver and playback application). A completely different story...It'll easily handle HD content. But Intel's Atom platform is a market restricted solution. Its being deliberately neutered so it doesn't cross into Celeron's market. (VIA's Nano has the advantage in this regard. Its too bad their IGP solutions suck ass). Personally, I think these nettop and netbook solutions are a waste of time, unless you are really needing something small, but "adequate performing". l[

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 11 years ago

        r[

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