Asus unveils small, cheap box that will make people go, "Hmmm…."

June 2, 2008 by Dave Haynes

So I’m not the guy you would go to for advice on PCs for digital signage. But I do know what people are looking for: small, cute, fanless and cheap.

They often leave out sufficiently powered and reliable.

Hughes Media Signage Ad

The new Asus EEE box due out in July certainly meets the small, cute, fanless and cheap criteria. The rest … dunno.

My favorite gadget blog Gizmodo is reporting on its first look at the new box, which looks more like a home theatre PC box than it does a PC.

Running on a 1.6GHz Atom processor, it comes in Windows XP and Linux versions, both of which are blissfully cheap: $269 for the base 1GB RAM, 80GB storage Linux model, $299 for XP. Memory and storage are configurable, running from 512MB to 2GB, and 80GB to 250GB, respectively. 802.11n is standard, and it has a pleasant number of ports—serious potential as a TV streamer box (as commenters have pointed out, lack of optical drive and HDMI out is definitely limiting here). We didn’t get to see it in action, but it’s definitely a cute, well-built package for the money.

It is small enough to easily tuck behind a flat panel or under a counter, and at $300, would make any number of my prospective clients positively tingly, given most or all other small form factor PCs with Intel inside cost twice as much or more.

A little poking around suggests this would run at about the same horsepower as a 900MHz Celeron M and 1.13GHz Pentium 3-M. That’s a slug of a machine compared to other boxes out there, and would likely struggle with Flash. But it would probably run video just fine, from what people have told me about this stuff in the past.

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