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ASUS EeeBox B208
EeeBox B208 may be the ideal small form factory HTPC

The netbook ushered in the era of low coast ultra-portable notebooks for the masses and many consumers have jumped on the bandwagon. After the massive sales that netbooks were able to generate, manufacturers like ASUS starting putting the cheap netbook hardware inside machines meant for the desktop in an effort to create small form factor systems for desktop users.

While the nettop systems haven't proved to be that popular with consumers, one place where a properly configured nettop could do very well is as an HTPC. The catch is that a HTPC connected to a big screen is typically expected to output HD video. ASUS is set to launch a new EeeBox PC B208 coming in June that will not only offer HD capability, but will feature discrete graphics and HDMI-out reports Engadget.

ASUS offers some specs for the B208 on its website and the device is similar to the other EeeBox nettops with HD capability DailyTech covered in December 2008. The B208 runs an Intel Atom 330 CPU and offers 2GB of RAM. With 2GB of RAM, the machine uses Windows Vista Home Basic rather than Windows XP. Storage for the machine ranges from 160GB to 320GB and graphics are via ATI Radeon HD 4530. Wi-Fi is integrated along with a memory card reader and Bluetooth. Outputs include HDMI and DVI-D with an adapter. The little HTPC also features S/PDIF out.

ASUS ships the machine with a multimedia remote control for operation for the comfort of the couch. The power supply for the machine is a 36-watt unit and ASUS claims that the computer emits only 26dB of sound.

Engadget expects the machine to retail for around $500.



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Well...
By therealnickdanger on 4/23/2009 11:56:51 AM , Rating: 4
I have to say, I'm very, very impressed, but I'm not such a fan of the price. I mean, $500 can buy a LOT of PC nowadays. I've seen Q6600-based workstations selling for under $600 with a lot more capability.

For $500, I was kinda hoping for an iMac clone with the integrated widescreen LCD.

Still leaps and bounds better than the first desktop EEE PC.




RE: Well...
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 12:07:16 PM , Rating: 4
I agree - what I'd prefer to see in a device like this would be a Core 2 Duo mobile processor. But I guess there are machines out there like that already, like the Dell.


RE: Well...
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 12:08:11 PM , Rating: 5
It's a nice small package, but ya, that price is a bit high. At $300, I'd be on it.


RE: Well...
By therealnickdanger on 4/23/2009 1:44:25 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, $300 seems appropriate. I just built a mini-ITX Atom 330 Windows Home Server with 2GB RAM andTB RAID-1 for under $300.

I'm very curious about the Radeon 4530 inside. PCIe1x? PCIe4x? PCIe16x? PCI? MXM? So far, Atom (desktop) has only had access to PCI slots, so this makes me hopeful we'll see more PCIe Atom products. Atom would be a lot more appealing if its motherboards had PCIe, I would have more places to use my old graphics cards.


RE: Well...
By elpresidente2075 on 4/23/2009 8:26:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So far, Atom (desktop) has only had access to PCI slots


This isn't quite true: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

I own two, and that is definitely a PCI-e port


RE: Well...
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 8:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
I figured the OP meant PCIe, since PCI is obsolete now.


RE: Well...
By therealnickdanger on 4/24/2009 11:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
Yes. PCIe = PCI-Express

Sadly, while there are a couple PCIe x1 graphics cards on the market, they suck. Atom boards without a useable, fullsize PCIe slot really limit options for HTPC use, in my opinion.


RE: Well...
By Chadder007 on 4/23/2009 10:24:04 PM , Rating: 3
Definately way too high at $500. The Dell Mini can be found cheaper and with a Core 2 Duo at some places. (Best Buy had a sale on them for $399 for a few weeks.)


RE: Well...
By joos2000 on 4/28/2009 2:58:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, that seems like a better price point for a machine like this. Personally, at 500 dollars I don't see the appeal at all; a Dell would make a better and computer and a PS3 would make a better Front End media box.


RE: Well...
By bruce24 on 4/23/2009 12:42:57 PM , Rating: 3
If the retail cost is $500 at the time they release this, I don't think they will sell very many based on the Acer Revo prices I have seen.

check out this link for Revo prices and models:
http://www.play.com/Search.aspx?searchtype=PCSH&se...


RE: Well...
By ChugokuOtaku on 4/23/2009 1:08:34 PM , Rating: 2
I guess the question is, how does Asus HTPC's ATI graphics compare to nVidia's ION in the Acer


RE: Well...
By therealnickdanger on 4/23/2009 1:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like the Radeon has an edge over the Ion on paper, but the proof will be in the proverbial pudding.

Ion:
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-9400M-...

4530:
http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-ATI-Mobility-Rade...


RE: Well...
By b534202 on 4/23/2009 1:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't really matter since they both can handle HD video.


RE: Well...
By Spuke on 4/23/2009 12:51:41 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think $500 is out of line. This thing will do more than just play movies. I could move all of my multimedia off of my other computers and centralize it on this machine. Hook it up to my network via wireless and I'm set. BTW, does this mean it will have a built in Bluray player?


RE: Well...
By Spuke on 4/23/2009 1:21:34 PM , Rating: 2
Looked on Asus website and no mention of a Bluray player. Oh well.


RE: Well...
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 2:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
Eee Boxes don't have optical drives. You'd have to get an external.


RE: Well...
By djc208 on 4/23/2009 7:27:35 PM , Rating: 2
You'll find streaming HD video over wireless to be at best unreliable. 802.11n is better but still not nearly as reliable as a standard ethernet cable.


RE: Well...
By clovell on 4/23/2009 7:34:36 PM , Rating: 4
Not so fast - it runs Vista Home BASIC, not Premium - so don't go making plans for it to stream media to other computers or xboxes just yet.

This would be a decent machine if it used the right software. I mean what were they thinking? </drphilvoice> Home Basic on an HTPC? <facepalm>


RE: Well...
By Suntan on 4/27/2009 2:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
There’s more out there in the realm of networked PVR applications than *just* the Windows Media Center application.

I run Sage happily on an old copy of XP home.

-Suntan


RE: Well...
By lhlinlhlin on 4/25/2009 11:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
Here is the spec. of Asus Eeebox I can buy in Taipei with the price of US$ 360 including shipping:

CPU:Intel Atom N270
RAM: 1GB DDRII
HDD:160GB SATA
Graphic card: ATI HD3450
Wireless: 802.11n
Cardreader:5 in 1
I/O ports: HDMI?USB2.0×4?Gigabit Ethernet
OS: Windows XP Home
Accessories:Wireless Keyboard mouse and Remote Control

I think it is worth of buying if you still lack of an additonal PC for your family member. However, I've got my PS3 as a media center PC/YDL 6.1 + Apple Wireless bluetooth keyboard. with the same price, so I won't need it anymore.


For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By Doormat on 4/23/2009 12:25:09 PM , Rating: 4
1080p decoding of MPEG 2, h.264, etc. For $99 more you can get a Mac Mini with the necessary chops to be a HTPC (video decoding, optical out, etc). Or build a shuttle XPC box that can do the same thing.




RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 12:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
So you're saying pay more for a Mac to do the same thing or build a larger XPC box to do the same thing.

Last I checked, we were complaining about the price.


RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By VooDooAddict on 4/23/2009 2:22:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Last I checked, we were complaining about the price.


I took his point to be more along the lines of:

"If I'm paying $500, I might as well pay $600 and have an (arguably) more capable Mac Mini, or for around the same price build a larger, but much more powerful Shuttle XPC."

I tend to agree.

Like many others, I think this would be a good buy for some at @ $300. But @ $500 this is more expensive then many full desktops from HP/Dell/Acer at Fry's and Best Buy.


By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 2:59:47 PM , Rating: 2
While the Mac Mini has more power, I feel the XPC would make a much wiser choice if you wanted something more in an HTPC.


RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By Bateluer on 4/23/2009 12:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'm betting the Radeon 4530 is substantially more powerful than the Nvidia 9400 IGP used in the Mac Mini, but the C2D in the Mac Mini is definitely more powerful.

Both could definitely offer more hardware for their price.

There is the physical size factor, but I don't think its worth that much of a premium.


RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By mmntech on 4/23/2009 1:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
The Atom will definitely bottleneck the 4530. From what I found, the 9400M is about equal to the HD 3450. I assume the 4530 is faster but it really doesn't make that much difference for HD decoding. The Core 2 Duo in the Mini also makes it more suitable for gaming and media encoding. Don't forget too that the Mini also includes an optical drive (DVD-burner), DDR3, and a current generation OS. It just lacks HDMI, which could be a problem.

To build your own mini-ITX HTPC for that would cost around $500, especially if you use Vista instead of something like Mythbuntu. That includes an optical drive. Most Atom based mini-ITX boards only support PCI graphics and there are few PCI cards that have HDMI with audio pass-through. Assuming you use the 2.0ghz Allendale and the Zotec mini-ITX board, I'd say $550 for everything. The Mini is actually a pretty good deal all things considered if you don't want to build your own. It is chintzy with the RAM and HDD though.


RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By Pirks on 4/23/2009 2:54:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
It just lacks HDMI, which could be a problem

http://www.pccables.com/cgi-bin/orders6.cgi?action...


RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By omnicronx on 4/23/2009 4:56:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Does Not Support Audio-Use a Toslink Cable for Pure Digital audio.
== Useless..


By Pirks on 4/23/2009 5:15:23 PM , Rating: 1
RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By tlampen on 4/25/2009 8:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree with the mac mini idea as well as the idea of spending $500 on any PC to be a media center PC. Apple TV with a 5 min hack is by far the best bang for the buck at $250. all you do is pull it out of the box => plug it in => download the hack to a thumb drive => boot from the thumb drive => let it install its magic. Now you have a device that can stream over its wireless or ethernet connections. can be controlled by ANY device that has iTunes, get out to the web, and will play practically any video format. oh yeah it also has HDMI and Optical audio output. This IS the cost effective headache free media center PC.


By Suntan on 4/27/2009 2:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
How well does it work when you pop a blu ray disc in the drive and press play…?

-Suntan


No home premium?
By nafhan on 4/23/2009 12:27:06 PM , Rating: 4
Seems like Vista Home Premium would be a better fit here, if they are targeting the HTPC crowd. Isn't Basic missing a lot of the home theater/media management stuff? Can't be that much of a difference in pricing to an OEM like Acer, either.
For the average user this oversight could be kind of frustrating.




RE: No home premium?
By pequin06 on 4/23/2009 4:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
Vista Basic is....Basic and it lacks the Windows Media Center.
I would be interested myself with Home Premium and a cheaper price.


Atom shouldn't be doing this
By piroroadkill on 4/23/2009 9:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
Why do companies keep on insisting on tossing Atom into products it doesn't belong in




RE: Atom shouldn't be doing this
By Lightnix on 4/24/2009 4:29:48 AM , Rating: 2
The thing with devices of this size is heat output and chip footprint. You could stick a desktop dual core Celeron in there, it'd be cheap enough, sure, but it'd overheat. A mobile celeron might be too expensive.


RE: Atom shouldn't be doing this
By 91TTZ on 4/24/2009 10:01:54 AM , Rating: 2
A system using a "high power" CPU like a Core 2 Duo doesn't actually use much more electricity than one using the Atom. It will be slightly higher, but the performance will be much higher.

A Core 2 Duo is actually a more power efficient CPU than the Atom. While the Atom uses less power than the Core, its performance decrease is much larger than the power decrease.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-atom-eff...

Benchmarking shows that the Core 2 delivers better power per watt performance. The Atom is popular because it's small and cheap which makes it great for certain applications. For a desktop you're better served by a Core 2.


I think this is a great deal
By PAPutzback on 4/23/2009 12:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
A netbook with less hardware will run 500 bucks. This has the ATOM 330 and a video card capable of 1080P. I'd put win 7 Permium on it though and a SSD for the HDD for the Live TV buffer and keep the movies on a WHS box. Now if it wasn't capable of 1080P then I'd say it was over priced. Someone mentioned a shuttle box but there is no way you could build one this cheap. The O.S itself is almost 200 bucks.




RE: I think this is a great deal
By nafhan on 4/23/2009 4:58:05 PM , Rating: 2
If you buy the OEM version of Windows it's usually closer to $100. There's usually a requirement to purchase hardware with the OS, though.


By overlandpark4me on 4/23/2009 11:15:20 PM , Rating: 3
There are only a couple of things keeping me from dumping my cable and going with just Netflix streaming, OTA, Hulu and other similar services. These get to the sweet spot in pricing and I might do it. F1 and some cable only sports are keeping me locked in right now, and F1 is so screwed up right now, I'm having trouble watching that at the moment.




This is good news for the netbook community...
By blueboy09 on 4/26/2009 2:26:20 AM , Rating: 1
We need HD in a netbook, cause i'm definitely one of those fans. Don't need anything too demanding, but it would be good for those people, like me, who use the netbook for watching TV episodes, DVD movies, and low-performing games. It may seem overkill for some people, but I prefer this, mainly cause i'm gettin a HDTV in the nearby future and will actually see the display bigger when HDMI plug is plugged in. - BLUEBOY




By Suntan on 4/27/2009 2:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
Current netbooks will do these things right now. They are not feasible for playback on external TVs. But for playback on the netbook itself DVDs and HD TV is playable.

Don’t know about light games, I don’t use my netbook for games as I use a PSP for that.

-Suntan


"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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