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.

Construction - Build, Appearance, Size
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  • trikster2 - Saturday, February 14, 2004 - link

    If you are getting it from ewiz use this link and save a few bucks:


  • rigelinoia - Friday, February 13, 2004 - link

    I can only say:
  • Shalmanese - Friday, February 13, 2004 - link

    "Keep in mind that a multimedia PC is like 10 times the cost of a DVD/MP3 player and TV tuner combination."

    Whats with the Valley girl speak?
  • 3Suns - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Yes, you have to turn it on to play DVDs. I believe only the CD/mp3 player is available in the alternate OS.

    Which is one reason I want to try getting all this working in linux... I can optimize the boot time!
  • bobbronco - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    I agree with araczynski in that the design of this box is somewhat lacking. The pizza box form factor is nothing new. Apple did it back in '91 with the MacLC. Granted, the current state of PC technology was then not at the same level it is today, but the overall idea for a small PC of these approximate dimensions has been done before. The Taiwanese may be able to build a cheap MB, but their industrial design is still and will continue to be very weak.
  • bobbronco - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

  • WileCoyote - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Good review, I like to read up on these types of machines. I think the major fault with this box is just how specialized it is. Sometimes this can be advantage - a system that does one thing very well. But it doesn't even seem like this one is up to par.
  • araczynski - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    WHY IN THE WORLD DOES EVERYTHING THESE DAYS HAVE TO LOOK SO DAMN RETRO 70'S? DOESN'T ANYBODY HAVE ANY ORIGINAL IDEAS ANYMORE? just because the current "x-generation" is clueless and unoriginal doesn't mean all technology has to reflect that in appearance.

    this stuff looks like all the 8tracks at goodwill.
  • Wiseguy69 - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    ... and the SPDIF is on the front! That may stop me from buying this. Who wants a big optical cable coming from the front of your DVD player?
  • Wiseguy69 - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    I wish they would have gone into more detail about the actual operation of the multimedia features. I have a MSI Mega now and my g/f hates that you have to turn it on to play a DVD. Does DVD run from the alternate OS or do you have to start windows?

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