Asus DigiMatrix - The Pizza Box Form Factorby Andrew Ku on February 11, 2004 1:41 PM EST
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When we hit the floors at Comdex, there wasn't much to see, and we ended up expecting to see little when it came to the variety of products that interested us and more specifically, our readers. Other than some roadmap information on AMD and Intel, the scene was relatively quiet for us. Perhaps the most interesting product that really stuck out was Asus' DigiMatrix, a take on a PC for the home entertainment system.
This is another attempt at the SFF market with a digital entertainment twist. MSI has done this for sometime with their very well designed Mega PC line, but they take it more from a PC with the flare of a digital entertainment taste, versus the other way around. With the evolution of the home theater PC, thanks in part to Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition OS, ATI's All-in-Wonder cards, and the SFF PC, the market for digital entertainment PCs is a ripe for the pickings.
The home entertainment market in the sense of the PC is a fickle one because of the natural size of the equipment involved. Digital receivers, TiVo/VCR/DVD players, cable/satellite boxes, etc. are often referred to as the pizza box by SDs and SIs (system designers and integrators) and has been long put to use since beta VCR players. This unofficial PBFF is not just practical, but fits well into the home theater, allowing everything to be easily stackable. The other benefit is obviously the small profile of the equipment. PCs, on the other hand, have long since followed the tower format, which definitely looks odd when put to use next to the TV or anywhere in the near vicinity. The Small Form Factor helped breathe new life into the market by allowing PCs to fit conformably into the concept of the family entertainment system. The trade-off the build-it-yourself home theater PC remains to be the options available over the size of the system, as SFFs aren't stackable by the nature of the PBFF.
Asus has taken things from a whole different vantage point with their DigiMatrix. Instead of offering a SFF PC that provides multimedia features, the DigiMatrix takes the PBFF and redesigns it to operate as a PC.