Asus Eee Box to debut in UK... minus Linux
Windows XP only at launch
Exclusive Asus will bring the Eee Box desktop to the UK in August. However, the company confirmed to Register Hardware that machine will initially only ship with Windows XP Home Edition.
The compact desktop contains not Intel's desktop-oriented Atom 230 processor, as anticipated, but the less power-hungry notebook version, the N270, Asus revealed. Both CPUs are clocked at 1.6GHz and contain 512KB of L2 cache. But the N270 consumes 2.5W of power, while the 230 has a 4.5W TDP.
Asus' Eee Box: no Linux version at launch
The Eee Box also packs into its one-litre casing 1GB of DDR 2 memory, an 80GB hard drive - no solid-state storage here - 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and a five-in-one memory card reader. There are three USB 2.0 slots and a VGA port.
Asus' announcement only mentioned Windows XP. We asked the company to clarify the situation, and it admitted that the first Eee Boxes to arrive in Britain will have the Microsoft OS pre-installed.
Linux hasn't been ignored, however. But it will come "later", a company official admitted.
Compact and stylish
There's no indication whether the company will price the subsequent Linux-based Eee Box at a lower price than the XP model, or up the spec slightly so it can sell them at the same price, as it does with the Eee PC 900 and, soon, the Eee PC 901.
Asus also didn't disclose what it plans to charge for the desktop, but we'd expect it to come well below the £319 price-tag attached to the 901.
This would be a perfect under-TV box - providing they give it HDMI.
Should be cool & quiet unlike the blast furnace that masquerades as my Xbox 360 (love the games, hate the noise).
Imagine sofa-surfing, legibly, on your nice big TV. Media streaming. Even a spot of gaming perhaps. All with lovely open sauce, when they get round to it.
One obvious use...
I have a 32" LCD HDTV. Like most of them, it has a VGA port. I download and/or stream a lot of video, a lot of which can be viewed at the HDTV's native resolution - 1024x768p. I also have an extensive music collection, some of which is also with accompanying videos, and all stored on an external HDD attached to my main PC that's shared over the network as a sort of "mini server".
I've tried streaming through the Xbox 360 via WMP11/TVersity/Winamp Remote, and it's variable in quality to say the least. I've been considering getting an old Xbox, soft-modding it to XBMC and using that; no VGA option, though, so it'd be at SCART quality at best (there is a component YPbPr cable for the old Xbox, but it takes up so much processing power to use it pretty much makes it useless). The Wii, although it can do net access via Opera (and therefore access Winamp Remote/TVersity) and can output at HD, does so at 480p, which to be frank looks awful.
Now this... this is a low-cost, low-power (it uses less power than my 360 in standby!) PC I can connect via a DVI-HDMI cable to get an awesome picture and stream it all effostlessly off the network. Basically, it's a full-PC Slingbox...
@ Optical Output (Media Center)
Yeah I noticed that. Now I'm wondering (assuming the spec. posted above is correct) if there's an optical out *inside* the 3.5mm socket -- my cranky old iRiver H140 MP3 player has just such a hook-up.
Optical Output (Media Center)
I am a bit confused, the Anandtech review showed it did not have optical out but the specs says it has. It could be a good XBMC device.
Can someone ask them, on the record, what the upgrade path is when Microsoft withdraws life support from XP? Vista? (Cue manaical laughter).
It is possible that Microsoft is giving away XP licenses, or even paying ASUS to ship it with XP, if MS is scared enough of Linux being seen to be the better option. And if I were Microsoft, I would be.
I'll buy one to run Linux if the price is right, XP or no XP.