Final Words

ASUS has done surprisingly well with the Eee Box. The machine actually performs very well and is priced low enough that it stands in a league of its own without spending at least another $100.

What we’re most surprised by is the form factor and style of the Eee Box, in its final shipping form this is going to be a simple black or white box that looks like something you’d expect to find in a modern home. With the Eee PC you could get something much faster but you do sacrifice form factor.

The performance aspect of the Eee Box is entirely due to Intel, whose Atom processor delivers as promised. At 1.6GHz the Intel Atom offers somewhere around the performance of a 800MHz - 1.2GHz Pentium M depending on the task at hand. What's even more impressive is that the Atom will offer this sort of performance in handheld devices before the end of the year and in high end smartphones by 2009/2010.

If you do have the funds to spend more, the cheapest consumer Dell PC - the Inspiron 530s will give you more than 2x the performance of the Eee Box but at a 40% higher cost. The Inspiron 530s also can’t compete in terms of form factor or power consumption.

Where the Eee Box falls short is in its connectivity and in its use of the Atom processor. This thing absolutely needs HD video decode acceleration and a HDMI output, given the popularity of hacked Apple TVs for streaming content around the house this would be the perfect replacement (especially if you could turn it into a Hackintosh...). The Atom processor gives the Eee Box extremely desireable thermals and very low power consumption (the whole system uses less power than some energy efficient lightbulbs), unfortunately ASUS didn't capitalize on that and refrained from passively cooling the machine. The Apple TV is passively cooled and we see no reason that the Eee Box couldn't be as well. While fan speed can be adjusted, we'd much prefer a system that didn't make any noise at all.

Much like the Eee PC, the Eee Box is going to be very much a love it or hate it machine. Where the Eee Box differs from its sibling is that the complaints of a cramped keyboard and small screen don't apply here, not to mention the lower overall cost. If you've got a spare monitor, the Eee Box isn't a bad way of putting it to good use. It's a great entry-level PC for parents or children, or a secondary/tertiary computer for use around the house. It's cheap enough where it could easily be a good kitchen PC, but the kicker is that you'll need a display.

With the second generation of Eee PCs debuting at Computex this year, we're also seeing competing devices from other companies. It's very likely that the Eee Box will incite a similar response from ASUS' competitors while solidifying ASUS' position as a leader in doing something innovative in the low cost PC market. What Apple does for the high end, ASUS is set on doing for the low end and it's that sort of balance that we need in the industry.

General Usage Performance of the Atom w/ PCMark Vantage
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  • Casper42 - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    Gigabit Network with 2 USB Ports means you could make a sidecar that holds a small Power supply and 2 Desktop Drives (1TB Each) and plug them in USB.

    That gives you a SATA Boot drive and then either 2TB in RAID0/JBOD or 1TB in RAID1

    Small enough to not run up your power bill like crazy and yyet still flexible enough to run your OS of choice for the hosting platform and any other little utilities you might want (cough BT Client cough).
    Reply
  • erikstarcher - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    Looks like it would make a great car pc. hook up a 7" touchscreen to it for control and you are set. I bet it would do music, video (non hd) and gps without a problem. And it won't kill your battery as fast as some other solutions (like the laptop I am now using). Reply
  • Yooshaw - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    This was my first thought - you could really make a killer Carputer with this thing. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, June 4, 2008 - link

    I thought that as well, though would almost certainly need a USB audio solution due to lack of other expansion. And the loud fan would be annoying too. I hope some more small devices/components come out for Atom/VIA Nano soon. Reply
  • MooseMuffin - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    Splashtop is a killer idea. There's been plenty of times where I've hosed my OS in some way, and this provides a way to still go online and google a solution. Reply
  • LuxZg - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    I agree, and this is one thing that is nice about Eee Box. But since it IS available on other MBOs as well, it's not huge advantage.. Reply
  • pnyffeler - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    How does the Atom perform for Remote Desktop and/or any other remote connections, with or without VPN? I just wonder how well this would work for working from home if your company offers such remote options. Reply
  • Martimus - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    I like seeing that Microsoft isn't allowing Windows XP on machines with larger than 80GB HDs. That should help establish a larger foothold for Linux on these types of computers. Of course when marketshare gets bigger, so will the compatibility which means that an alternative OS might actually be feasible. All this caused by Microsoft's attempt to maximize profits in the short term. Looks more like they are shooting themselves in the foot in the long term. I hope this type of computer really catches on and causes Linux or some other OS to really become mainstream. Reply
  • Griswold - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    Put a VIA Nano (C8) in that thing and I'm interested. Atom looks like s ure loser (but will be punched through with Intels might) for anything bigger than Intels envisioned MIDs. Reply
  • eeebox - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    People go on about it not being usable as a Media streamer, can't do HD yada yada...but is it powerful enough to be used as a SDTV recorder using a USB DVB-T tuner? I'm not even too fussed about record and play at the same time, simply record. It's been confirmed it can play 4.5Mbps 720p H.264 at 90% and 720p Divx fine so that means it should be able to play SD perfectly fine, so how would it handle the encoding side of it for recording?

    Seeing as though it'll cost only a little bit more than an average HDD TV recorder I want to get an eeebox for use as a compact low power HDD SDTV recorder with easily replacable HDD and a web browser (Splashtop ftw) and the VESA mounting to the back of a TV is perfect as I use my TV as a monitor.
    Reply

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