Print 41 comment(s) - last by foolsgambit11.. on Dec 4 at 7:38 PM

Eee Box B204 and B206 get HDMI out and discrete graphics

ASUS has hit pay dirt with its Eee line of netbooks that proved so successful that the company started to add products to the line and branch out into other product categories. One of the products added to the Eee brand was the Eee Box.

ASUS has announced that it will update its Eee Box with the ability to enjoy hardware-accelerated HD content output to LCD TVs. ASUS claims that its newly announced Eee Box B204 and B206 computers are the world's smallest desktop PCs with HD capability.

The new Eee Box models offer HDMI output making it easy to send HD content to flat screen TVs. Both of the computers also ship with a wireless remote control to allow browsing of content from across the room. The B204 and B206 feature discrete graphics cards with a high definition hardware video decoder.

Both of the systems support 802.11b/g/n connectivity and the B204 has Bluetooth integrated. The operating system on both machines is Windows XP Home and both use the Intel Atom N270 processor. Graphics for the systems is via ATI's Radeon HD 3400 series and each has 1GB of RAM. The B206 system lacks Bluetooth that is offered on the B204.

Onboard audio for both systems is the Realtek ALC662 Azalia codec. A quartet of USB ports, Gigabit LAN port, and HDMI out is available on both machines. The B204 also features a built-in battery that performs the same function as an uninterruptable power supply.

Pricing and availability for the machines are unknown.

The first Eee Box specifications were unveiled in June.

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Ugh, Atom
By piroroadkill on 12/3/2008 12:23:39 PM , Rating: 3
I wish this Atom trend would stop - especially in a desktop, a low end Core 2 Duo wouldn't be a much more to cool and would actually perform - especially since they partnered it with not-totally-shit graphics

RE: Ugh, Atom
By Doormat on 12/3/2008 12:30:57 PM , Rating: 3
Its about meeting a price point. Even if its only $20 cheaper, if it helps meet the price point it'll get used.

I think my parents (and other very infrequent PC users) could do just fine with an DC 1.6Ghz Atom along with a chipset like the Nvidia 9300M or something to handle video decoding.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By Brandon Hill on 12/3/2008 12:32:09 PM , Rating: 3
My only computer is an MSI Wind which features an Atom processor. It is WELL SUITED for desktop usage. I do photoshop, web browsing, word/excel/powerpoint, etc. I'd consider that typical "desktop" usage for average people.

The only time it really chokes is with video encoding, but it's not like I bought this machine to do that anyway.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By therealnickdanger on 12/3/2008 1:37:02 PM , Rating: 3
I just picked up a Wind for my sister and it is excellent! Music, pictures, Office, Youtube, Facebook, video-chat, even making movies with Windows Movie Maker all without a hiccup!

Not to mention the LED screen is beautiful! (I wish we could have 1280x800 res though)

RE: Ugh, Atom
By quiksilvr on 12/3/2008 5:32:31 PM , Rating: 2
Do you guys know when 9400M GT will be implemented for discreet graphics on HP/Dell/etc. notebooks? Q1 or Q2?

RE: Ugh, Atom
By murphyslabrat on 12/4/2008 2:03:46 AM , Rating: 2
Don't know about that, but here's a pretty sweet-looking Asus Netbook with a 9300, for about $680. 6.5 hours of battery life, and the capability of playing Starcraft 2; do you need anything more?

RE: Ugh, Atom
By Penti on 12/4/2008 9:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
First of all 9400M isn't discrete, It's integrated nor is it really fast or usable the performance isn't much better then the much older AMD 780G/790GX. It's the 9600M GT that's the discrete (dedicated) part. It gets less then 14k in 3DMark2001 and about 2100 p in 3DM06. It's performance is comparable to the discrete part 9300M GS / 8400M. Or less then the nVidia GF Go 7600 performance. It's nothing special. It's enough for 3d effects and video acceleration.

Of course 9400GT is a discrete (dedicated) part, but it's a desktop part not notebook.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By Bateluer on 12/3/2008 12:51:55 PM , Rating: 1
Wasn't the Atom geared for Smartphones and PDAs, not necessarily desktops?

I've only used an Eee PC with the 900Mhz Celerons myself. And those were anemically slow in XP, almost to the point of being unusable. They could barely surf the web, to say nothing about Photoshop.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By amanojaku on 12/3/2008 1:19:11 PM , Rating: 3
The Atom was designed for low power and mobile devices. The EEE Box is a low power device, and as such the Atom is perfect for it. The EEE Box is not supposed to be a desktop replacement if you want to run Photoshop or play Crysis. It's meant to be a web browsing platform, and at $350 with Windows XP that is one hell of a deal if you want something small with low power usage. The HD support just sweetens the deal.

The OP seems to think it's a simple matter of dropping a Core/Core2 CPU in. I doubt it's that easy as many other components would have to be changed, as well, like the chipset, mother board and/or bus, etc... Once that happens the EEE Box will probably exceed the 8.75x7x1 inch size and the $350 price.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By mmntech on 12/3/2008 1:34:37 PM , Rating: 1
The Atom uses a non-standard 441 ball socket so right there the Eee's motherboard is not compatible The Celeron version use the old Dothan cores with Socket 479. There's no way you could drop in a Core 2 CPU without drastically altering the motherboard. I don't know why they don't adopt the Atom 330 though for their Nettops. It's only $14 more.

For some reason, a lot of people still think you need the latest and greatest even for just a web surfing box. For most people, stuff like the quad cores they're throwing in consumer desktops is massive overkill. Save some cash.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By omnicronx on 12/3/2008 7:09:50 PM , Rating: 3
The atom uses what 8w at load, 2w idle.

This compared to 55w power saving models that you have to pay more for.

There really is no comparison, especially since the chipset used probably draws less power also.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By mxnerd on 12/3/2008 11:38:28 PM , Rating: 3
As long as it does not run on Vista, the Eee Box is adequate for most people.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By noirsoft on 12/4/2008 1:25:01 AM , Rating: 2
Even with Vista, it would be adequate. Upping the RAM to 1.5 or 2 gigs would certainly be better, but would be the only upgrade that needs to be considered. I run Vista Home Premium just fine on my Acer AspireONE, upgraded to 1.5 from the stock 1.0 GB RAM.

RE: Ugh, Atom
By therealnickdanger on 12/4/2008 9:29:32 AM , Rating: 2
From everything I've read about the Wind I just bought, it can operate XP, Vista, Mac OS Leopard, and Linux flawlessly on its stock 1GB RAM. Obviously, with Vista, if you go beyond office/web use, you would want more RAM... but that's not what these things are for.

By luseferous on 12/3/2008 1:59:20 PM , Rating: 3
Unlike the netbook variants I feel that this needs an optical drive. Especially as Asus are aiming at it being used as a living room media box.

As long as you don't want to game or do other heavy weight tasks then the Atom is fast enough. (my Wind is pretty nippy unless in Eco mode, where it can show its lack of power) The Dual core versions should be more capable and possibly allow some level of gaming when paired with a decent GPU.

RE: Optical
By Chadder007 on 12/3/2008 2:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
That would make it the perfect for me. Instead of having a DVD player sitting there too I could have this for DVD, Media streaming, Internet all on my big tv.

RE: Optical
By amanojaku on 12/3/2008 3:17:00 PM , Rating: 3
I have three acronyms for ya: USB DVD-ROM.

RE: Optical
By luseferous on 12/3/2008 3:52:37 PM , Rating: 3
A perfectly reasonable fix, but a drive inside the box would be so much nicer.

RE: Optical
By feraltoad on 12/3/2008 4:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice if they offered a slot load drive model as well for all the people that want it. This would be a great little MCE box and a drive to play DVDs (or BluRay) would certainly kick standalone boxes in the teeth; well, not on price.

RE: Optical
By Penti on 12/4/2008 9:31:24 AM , Rating: 2
And a 100 bucks more expensive.

I do wish they would have a Atom 330 (dual-core) though, the N270 doesn't even support x86-64 (interesting if you use it as a server or simply Linux desktop). The 330 even has support for Intel VT.

In the future it will be interesting as a media player, but bad codecs and XP Home rule that out. For warez-usage it won't really be powerful enough anyway (you would want a cpu to fall back to there). PCs aren't really engineered to play back media, theres no all in one solution the software and quality of it lacks too much. You would really need codecs specially designed for the platform (Atom and HD3400) a solution that would use a dual-core Atom would be cool but not realistic. As else had said before a solution built with 780G + low power AMD64 processor would be more interesting for media.

RE: Optical
By foolsgambit11 on 12/3/2008 7:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
How are they supposed to fit a DVD-ROM (or, while we're at it, a BD-ROM) drive into a case that's an inch thick? The dimensions are 8.5"x1"x7". It costs, what, just over $300?

I'd prefer a separate drive - that way I could choose DVD or BD myself, rather than the Eee Box getting a DVD drive and still adding an external box if I want BD.

RE: Optical
By luseferous on 12/3/2008 9:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
laptop DVD drives are 0.56" height x 5.13" width x 5.68" depth and cheap.

RE: Optical
By foolsgambit11 on 12/4/2008 7:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
Great. So you'd need to make the product 50% bigger to get that in there. It's 1" wide right now. Assuming they use all that 1" to the fullest extent, the smallest it could be with a DVD drive is 1.56". Sure, that doesn't sound like much, but it is a 56% increase. Not only that, but external drives come as small as 0.75" (some even .67"). Add the width of double sided tape, and viola! you have a 1.78" computer with everything you want.

But the real point is, you're not the target market for this product. It doesn't have what you want because it's not supposed to have what you want. It's a cheap, low-power workstation for those who use computers only as tools, not as entertainment.

By MikeMurphy on 12/3/2008 12:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you Asus! These are almost exactly the improvements needed for me to consider buying this for the purpose of an HTPC.

Now, where is the dual-core version?

By amanojaku on 12/3/2008 1:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
Intel announced the first dual-core Atom in September, so it's probably going to take a few more months. There's also the issue of increased power consumption (~3x,) which is undesirable for a low power device. One other thing I find odd is the listed availability of the single-core N270 compared to the dual-core 330. The N270 is listed as being available for 7+ years while the 300 is listed as being available for 2+ years. That might influence Asus to stick with the single core, although I can't say why.

By foolsgambit11 on 12/3/2008 8:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
Hm. Interesting. Why is the dual-core 3x the power? And why would Intel do this, considering their Atom design philosophy of all power increases resulting in an equal performance increase? Are you sure you've got your numbers right?

By amanojaku on 12/4/2008 1:00:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why is the dual-core 3x the power?
Are you sure you've got your numbers right?
You're asking the wrong guy, and yes, I'm fairly sure I got them right. 8 / 2.5 = 3.2

Intel® Atom™ Processor N270 (512K Cache, 1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB) 2.5 Watts N/A
Intel® Atom™ Processor 330 (1M Cache, 1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB) 8 Watts N/A

By Anders Sahlman on 12/4/2008 6:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
Bad comparison. You should compare the 330 with the 230, then the difference is only the number of cores and you'll see that it uses double amount of power for two cores (as expected)

Intel® Atom™ Processor 230 (512K Cache, 1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB) 4 Watts

There are no dual core version in the N- or Z-series

By foolsgambit11 on 12/4/2008 7:38:49 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, I see, it not only doubles the cores, it doubles each cores' cache. Well that could explain the greater power envelope. I wonder what kind of performance increase that cache increase is responsible for.

By Penti on 12/4/2008 9:36:31 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how that would influence a consumer product like this, it would if it where an embedded computer for use in industry or an thin client with a very long lifespan (like 7+ years).

Eee Box w/ 780G
By King of Heroes on 12/3/2008 4:54:32 PM , Rating: 5
I personally think it would've made more sense to use a 780G mITX platform for this. The onboard Radeon HD3200 can already handle hardware acceleration of HD playback, removing the need for a discrete card. According to Fudzilla's review of one, the J&W version, an mITX 780G + X2 3400e is even with the Atom platform in idle power usage:

It does fly by it under load, but on average it still eats less power than a 60W lightbulb while providing superior performance to Atom.

I love the netbook/nettop concept, I just wish manufacturers would broaden their horizon and realize that Atom/945GC is not the only option for this segment. Hell, Intel's own mITX G45 board is another option, though I don't know what the power usage for that would be (or what corresponding chip it should use).

RE: Eee Box w/ 780G
By djc208 on 12/4/2008 10:19:13 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree an integrated solution would be better from a packaging/power standpoint, I think the problem is that the chipsets being used with the Atoms are older designs and the Atom can't be dropped into a current gen motherboard/chipset combo. So the workaround was to add a discrete card to the older chipset.

Now it would be nice if they could have gone with the 4XXX series cards for the ability to do 8-channel LPCM over the HDMI port, but it's still the right direction.

RE: Eee Box w/ 780G
By King of Heroes on 12/4/2008 12:11:00 PM , Rating: 2
To fit in the Eee Box case you would likely need the half height 4350. I believe that card has issues with accelerating multiple HD streams (for Picture-in-Picture and certain menu features in Blu-ray). Ideally you'd want somthing like a half-height 4550, but I don't know if that even exists yet.

when is it going to be available?
By finbarqs on 12/3/2008 3:43:33 PM , Rating: 2
This maybe JUST what i'm looking for!

Please define HD
By Kary on 12/4/2008 4:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
Will it put out full 1080P from MP4's?

Is it limited to 720P from Mpeg1's?

Does it play the audio through the HDMI cable?

(hopefully I just overlooked it, but I couldn't find that info on Asus's page either)

At 20W it does sound like a very interesting device to hook up to a TV and if the pricing is sub $400 I might be interested, but DETAILS people (oh...what is the pricing?)

I was also about to purchase ASUSous...
By on 12/3/08, Rating: -1
RE: I was also about to purchase ASUSous...
By amanojaku on 12/3/2008 3:10:37 PM , Rating: 3
This just in! PCs to improve performance and features while lowering costs and power usage. In other news, PLAYSTATION THREE is purposely shooting for the lowest DT rating ever! Buy an EEE PC and laugh at PLAYSTATION THREE!

By Ryanman on 12/3/2008 4:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
the funniest part is that, as a troll, he goes through the inconvenience of having to type in CAPTCHA crap every time he makes a post.

By elpresidente2075 on 12/3/2008 8:17:56 PM , Rating: 1
Strangely enough, despite every post being a -1, he only has a -.97 rating. Strange!

RE: I was also about to purchase ASUSous...
By shadowoth on 12/3/08, Rating: -1
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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