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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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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
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
It just lacks HDMI, which could be a problem

RE: For $500 it should do HTPC functions
By omnicronx on 4/23/2009 4:56:39 PM , Rating: 2
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…?


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