From the very start, ASUS' Eee Box nettop caught the eye as a potential media PC, and the company themselves threw their hat into the ring with the launch of the Eee Box B206. Swapping the DVI output for an HDTV-friendly HDMI, and slotting an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 GPU with 256MB of its own DDR2 RAM in instead of the integrated graphics, the B206 promises high-definition playback above its humble Atom roots.
The Register have been taking a look at the nettop, and in some ways the B206 does deliver. Standard definition video runs with no problems, and DivX 720p files in Windows Media Player were also smooth; however, the B206 showed itself to be particularly picky about codecs.
The problem is that not all media player apps support DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA), the technology which lets the Radeon HD 3450 GPU get its teeth into the video. Without that, it's up to the Atom N270 1.6GHz chip to keep things ticking over, and we already know that Intel's CPU struggles with high-resolution media.
After the Eee Box 206 from last week, ASUS have confirmed their latest HD-capable nettop, the ASUS Eee Box B208. Outfitted with Intel's 1.6GHz dual-core Atom 330 processor and 1GB of RAM, the Eee Box B208 also gets ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics with 256MB of video memory and an HDMI output.
ASUS have officially announced the Eee Box 206 nettop, first spotted back in December 2008, which adds a new AMD ATI Radeon HD 3450 GPU and an HDMI port to the original Eee Box design. The ASUS Eee Box 206 also comes with a remote control and DVI-D output adapter, with the company positioning it as the ideal eco-friendly accompaniment to your HDTV.
Hot on the heels of the Celeron 220-based Eee Box B203, ASUS have quietly added a further Celeron-based nettop. The B201 presumably slots in as the new entry-level model in the range, and packs both the Celeron 220 processor together with a standard 16GB SSD. A 160GB SATA-II hard-drive is an option, as is upgrading RAM from the standard 512MB to 1GB or 2GB.
ASUS has finally seen sense, and outfitted its latest Eee Box nettop models with HDMI outputs; that makes them ideal for use as a media center extender. Outwardly identical to the existing Eee Box, the two new models - B204 and B206 - retain the 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM and 160GB hard-drive, but gain a new ATI Radeon HD 3400 GPU with 256MB memory.
ASUS are planning a Celeron version of their Eee Box nettop, which will be cheaper than the current Intel Atom N270 model. According to DigiTimes, poor sales of the Eee Box - which packs hardware usually found in the company's Eee PC netbook into a slender desktop form-factor - has prompted the new entry-level machine, which will go on sale alongside the existing nettop.
The Eee PC will get at least two touchscreen variants announced in early 2009, with both convertible and standard notebook form-factor designs being explored. That's the latest news from ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, who has been sharing some more details about what's become the largest netbook range on the market. As well as the touchscreen models, ASUS have obviously decided to take Steve Ballmer at his word and miss Windows Vista out completely; instead, they're planning to introduce Windows 7 to netbooks in the second half of 2009.
ASUS has admitted that its Eee Box nettop - the desktop version of its popular Eee PC netbook range - shipped to some customers carrying a virus. According to an email sent out from the company, the Japanese version of the device has a virus file called "recycled.exe" saved in the D: drive partition. If activated, the virus begins to copy itself to the C: drive and any attached USB memory sticks or hard-drives.