Review: Asus Eee Box PC

Asus has been cranking out new versions of the Eee PC faster than a Kansas twister, all thanks to the growing herd of Eee-mitators out there. Still, with everyone and their grandmother now hot for these little dwarfbooks, the company’s continued claim to the mini laptop throne is tenuous at best – even with those 23 existing and soon-to-be-released Eee PC configurations.

Behold, the new Eee Box! Like the rest of the Eee bloodline, these varicolored desktop boxes are small, cheap and adorable. Unlike Eee PCs, they’re in a league of their own…at least for the time being.

In essence, Asus simply did what Apple has been doing for years: using notebook innards to assemble small-form factor desktop devices (think AppleTV or Mac Mini). Only Asus is doing it on the low end. Indeed, the unit’s specs are more or less identical to the latest Eee PC 901 – save for the beefier 80 or 160-GB hard drives you can choose between.

What’s really interesting about the new Eee Box, however, is how these components actually end up working better in a desktop setting. Much of what hampered Eee PCs – those small, cramped keyboards and tiny screens – are not an issue here. And at $270 or $300, it’s hard to find anything out there that offers as much for as little.

Sure, you can configure some craptastic Dell rig that’ll be more powerful, but you’ll also give up form factor and pay a good $100 more for all the fixins.

Intel’s 1.6 GHz Atom processor, up to 2 GBs of memory, four USB ports, an SD card slot, 802.11n and Bluetooth are plenty for the Eee Box to hit that elusive “good enough” mark with aplomb. Once again, you’ll get your choice of running either Linux or Windows XP. And, borrowing another page from Apple’s playbook, you’ll also get the Michael Jackson “Black or White” color options.

Then there’s the size. Living up to its Eee heritage, this box makes its few competitors look downright pudgy. While it does have a slightly larger overall footprint, it’s much trimmer than the Mac Mini. The Eee Box even makes Asus’s own Nova P22 mini PC look like it was viciously beaten with the fat stick. Not only will this elegant 8.5 x 7 x 1-inch box fit anywhere, but you also have the choice of mounting it directly to the back of any extra monitor you happen to have one lying around.

To be clear, the Eee Box is not for sweaty frag fests or heavy duty HD video decoding. But if you have hankering for a killer kitchen PC or just an uber cheap second or third home PC that runs Linux or XP, it simply can’t be beat. Let the Eee Box knock-offs commence!

  • RAM Size: 2 GB
  • Clock Rate: 1.6 GHz
  • Hard Drive Size: 80 GB or 160 GB
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