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Turn your monitor into an HD TV, says Asus

Add-on box

Want an HD TV on the cheap? Asus this week launched a box that'll turn a standard flat-panel PC monitor into a hi-def telly.

There's an element of 'solution seeking problem' here, we think. But bear with Asus for the moment. Its HDTV Suite-HDMI - as the box is called - incoporates inputs for HDMI, VGA/DVI, TV aerial, RCA stereo, and s-, composite- and component-video. It also has headphone, VGA/DVI and HDMI outputs.

Between them, inside the box, is a digital TV tuner and image processing technology of the kind found in regular HD TVs. It's able to generate a 1920 x 1200 picture, though 'full HD' 1080p - ie. 1920 x 1080 - should be sufficient.

Asus said the unit's aimed to consumers who "want to watch High Definition TV without requiring the purchase of a new and expensive LCD TV", the HDTV Suite-HDMI operating as "a multimedia center without the need to turn on the PC".

The question is, how many folk out there fall into this category? Buyers with the latest games consoles and/or hi-def media players will probably have invested in an HD TV already. People with HD-capable PCs will probably use that to watch HD content.

That leaves consumers with computers insufficiently powerful to generate a decent HD picture - or anyone who wants to get a DVI-equipped monitor for a lot less than an full-spec HD TV and use this box to feed it.

Alas, Asus didn't say how much the HDTV Suite-HDMI will set you back, so it's difficult to say right now whether it represents better value than, say, a decent graphics card and a USB TV tuner.

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