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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  • sprockkets - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    I guess too, that I would use this computer for a 3rd system, where I just needed to use a computer if my others were in use doing cpu intensive stuff.

    I have a D20GLY2 for that purpose, except since it has the sis chipset, video support in linux stinks. Having an intel chipset would be great. If it were at the 965/G31 level, it would run compiz great.

    Perhaps what I like about it, is that it is a small out of the way computer, good for basic tasks, for most people who need little, and would not suffer from say, the problem when one half of those computer/monitor combo went out, both are rendered useless.
    Reply
  • Kishkumen - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    Looks like it should be able to handle standard mpeg-2 based 1080i HDTV. I'll probably get one or two to use as MythTV frontends. Reply
  • Visual - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    please re-check the pricing table that you published...
    you make it clear in the text after the table that the windows model should cost $299, not $269 as the table says now.
    Reply
  • feelingshorter - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    1. My parents own a small business. Due to theft, they need a working computer that i can hook up a camera up to that can capture video or images every x number of seconds. Second, they play music at their small business, so i can put MP3s on the machine (no need for high quality sound as it's just classical music). A draw back is that you need a monitor but I have a 19 inch LCD that I can pass along once i upgrade to a 24inch. Also the computer can then be locked in a "web browsing mode" or "media center mode" to allow for people to select the music and surf the web with. At the end of the day, it can be brought to the back of the business and hooked up to the camera system for surveillance (independent systems can cost a lot too but are less versatile than a PC).

    (At their small business, they are currently using a 5 disc CD changer, which doesn't give enough variety in music, with customers complaining about hearing the same thing over and over. Also, if you continue to play the CDs over and over again, it will overheat! Silver pressed CDs are supposed to be quite reliable but if your playing it for hours at a time, it WILL start to shudder.)

    2. At less than 20watts, it will work perfectly as a machine that can be left on 24/7 (or can that not be assumed?). Anyone remember how hot some of AMD's cpu are, 2200+? A desktop that uses less power than the monitor your hooking it up to? I'll buy one just to save money on air conditioning. If not that, it will serve as a good computer in a pool room in your house. Just for our friends to surf the web while you play pool and have a beer. None of my friends really play games. We waste time on youtube and watching comedy, which this PC is powerful enough to do.

    All that being said, at $270, which is really cheap already for a PC, some of us would probably rather put that money into a powerful gaming pc ($1300). Having a PC like that, in the pool room in your house for when you have guests over, is worth buying just for the small form factor and low watt usage.

    3. You can also hook up a USB hard drive to it, connect the PC to a network and now you have NAS storage for all the PCs in your house.

    4. This one is more for businesses. Schools and test taking centers, tutoring centers, and large corporations with stores that uses windows xp as their checkout will love this. I remember when i used to work at Hollister, their seemingly generic and custom touch screen computers they use to check customers out is actually running windows XP beneath it (you would only know if it crashed, which i saw it do and reboot) with custom software. I don't remember the cost per computer but it was ridiculously expensive for what you get (well, the store costs 11 million to open so i guess business can afford it) . This Eee PC will do the job just fine for less watts and $.

    I'm also sure there are other uses but its 2 AM.
    Reply
  • AMDJunkie - Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - link

    Because the picture on the front page is always delicious irreverent and most of all, amazing. Reply

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