ASUS' Eee Keyboard has been so long coming, we've reached another CES before it has arrived on the market. First announced back at CES 2009, the last we heard about the touchscreen-nettop-in-a-keyboard was some nebulous statement from ASUS UK the underlying message of which was that they didn't have a clue when it would go on sale. Happily things have firmed up since then, and ASUS are now apparently claiming that the Eee Keyboard will drop in February 2010.
The oft-delayed ASUS Eee Keyboard is a great concept - squeezing everything from a nettop into a QWERTY form-factor - but what if your computing ambitions are even more moderate? NorhTec reckon they have the product for you in the shape of the Gecko Surfboard, outwardly a regular QWERTY keyboard but actually packed with a 1GHz x86 system-on-chip (SoC), VGA and composite video outputs, 10/100 ethernet and optional WiFi b/g or even 3G. The idea is you can hook it up to your TV or a spare monitor and get online without the hassle, bulk or cost of a regular nettop or PC.
NVIDIA have officially confirmed that the next-gen "Ion 2" (not the final name) graphics chipset is in the works, but it won't be arriving quite as soon as many had hoped. The company told Fudzilla that the Ion 2 won't see an official launch until later in Q1 2010, as opposed to the Q4 2009 unveil we'd expected; that's apparently because hardware manufacturers want to milk a few more sales out of first-gen Ion devices before the new chip arrives.
ASUS' Ion-packing Eee Box, the EB1501, has finally gone up for pre-order in the US. Priced at $479 at Amazon, the compact nettop uses Intel's dual-core Atom 330 processor along with 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard-drive, WiFi b/g/n and an HDMI output. Unlike most other nettops we've seen, the EB1501 also squeezes in a slot-loading DVD burner.
ASRock's latest NVIDIA Ion toting nettops have appeared for pre-order on Amazon, and based on our very positive experience with the ION 330-BD back in August we're quite excited about the 1080p-capable systems. The ASRock ION 330-HT and ION 330HT-BD each use a dual-core Atom 330 processor together with the Ion GPU and WiFi b/g/n, but the latter throws in a Blu-ray drive.
Details on NVIDIA's Ion 2 graphics chipset are still relatively scarce, but according to a DigiTimes report the company have already got at least one big-name buyer. Acer have apparently placed orders for the Ion 2 to accompany their upcoming Atom N450, N470, D510 or D410 based notebooks and nettops, and though there's no specific release schedule given, Acer is believed to be planning to release Pine Trail netbooks from January 11th 2010.
Is something afoot with ASUS' Eee Box EB1501 nettop? The Ion-toting mini desktop PC has had listings at a few major e-tailers for a while now, but ASUS UK has apparently contacted some UK sites to say that the EB1501 is shipping as of today; meanwhile the NetbookReviews team spotted that Play.com had updated their pages with a "due for release on 27/11/09". All well and good, but a quick check of the site today shows the release date has disappeared and the nettop is showing up as "out of stock".
Update: ASUS UK have been in touch to tell us that the EB1501 is indeed shipping today in the UK, and that they've been in contact with the retailers to ask them to update their listings.
AOpen have outed their latest nettop, but whereas we're used to apologetic Atom processors holding us back, the AOpen XC Mini GP7A-HD takes regular Core 2 Duo CPUs instead. The barebones kit also packs NVIDIA's Ion graphics chipset, which adds up to Full HD performance and a machine that could actually do a little gaming on your big-screen TV.
Otherwise there's a DVD burner, two DDR3 memory slots (4GB max, though it's unclear if that's per-slot or overall) and a 2.5-inch HDD bay. Connectivity includes HDMI and VGA outputs (which will work simultaneously), together with gigabit ethernet, six USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, audio in/out and a 6-in-1 memory card reader. There's no standard wireless connection, but two empty PCI Express Mini Card slots inside are enough for both a WiFi b/g/n card and a TV tuner if you should so wish.
MSI have pushed out another all-in-one in its Wind Top line, and this one offers both Full HD 1080p support and a touchscreen. The MSI Wind Top AE2220 has a 21.5-inch 16:9 display running at 1,920 x 1,080, multitouch support, a choice of Intel's 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T6600 or 2.1GHz Pentium dual-core T4300 processors, and NVIDIA Ion graphics.
While we often can be found heaping scorn onto the me-too Atom N270 netbook ranges that pass our viewing window, Intel's low-power chip does occasionally find its way into an interesting machine. Stealth Computer have slotted the 1.6GHz chip into their latest "Little PC", the Stealth LPC-395F, a fanless nettop with a ruggedized chassis and front-loading 2.5-inch hard-drive bay.
Back in August we got our hands on the small ASRock ION330-BD nettop with a Blu-ray drive inside for a full review. We liked the little machine pretty well thanks to its low price and decent performance. ASRock has now announced a new updated version the nettop we played with offering more features called the ASRock ION330HT-BD.