The ASUS eee PC has made a big splash in the ultra-cheap PC/appliance market, so the popular motherboard and PC maker is aiming for a sequel, the eee Box, due to become available in US and elsewhere later this summer.
More Than Form Factor Makes the Difference
Like its laptop predecessor, the eee Box is designed to be a low-cost PC appliance designed for web surfing and light-duty word-processing, emailing, and similar tasks. However, the eee Box has little in common with its laptop predecessor.
The eee PC laptop uses 800 or 900MHz Celeron M ULV (ultra low voltage) CPUs, while the eee Box will use Intel's new line of Atom low-powered processors, specifically the Atom N270, which runs at 1.6GHz.
How Fast is an Atom?
Basically, despite its faster clock speed, the Atom N270 provides about the same performance as the 800MHz Celeron M ULV found in the original eee PC. This is due to the Atom's being designed for the target market of what Anandtech refers to as 'good enough' hardware. To learn more about what's "under the hood," keep reading.
Although the eee PC and the eee Box come to a virtual draw in processor power, the eee Box uses a conventional hard disk, creating a 10X improvement over its laptop counterpart's 8GB flash memory storage. The eee Box uses a 2.5-inch (laptop form factor) SATA hard disk. According to cNet, some models will include an 80GB drive and others will sport a 160GB drive.
The eee Box also adds a card reader with support for the most popular flash memory cards, including SD, SDHC, various reduced-size versions of SD and MMC, as well as Sony's Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro (as usual, digital SLR diehards like me must supply our own Compact Flash [CF] reader).
The eee Box will feature your choice of 1GB or 2GB of DDR2 memory. There is no DVD drive, but you can connect one via one of the four USB 2.0 ports, or, you could use the network to map another computer's DVD drive to a drive letter to install software or run backups (an old trick that still makes sense with the speedy networking connections features the eee Box includes).
Video, Networking, and I/O
The eee Box, despite its modest specs, is no slouch in the networking department, as it features:
Gigabit Ethernet and 2.4GHz 802.11n network support
Four USB 2.0 ports
DVI-I (VGA-compatible) video
Stereo audio out, SPDIF audio out, a headset and a microphone jack
Chipset mavens will want to know that the eee Box uses the Intel 945GSE and ICH7M chipset, with onboard video courtesy of the Intel GMA 950. See details here.
Essentially, a Low-Cost Laptop in Desktop Clothing
As you can see from the specifications, the eee Box is essentially a low-cost laptop (minus the display) designed to run Linux or Windows XP.
And Now, for the Price Tag...
According to Gizmodo, here's how much it will cost to take an eee Box home to Mom, Dad, or the kiddos: