updated 03:55 pm EDT, Fri May 30, 2008
ASUS Eee Box Leak
ASUS' Eee Box (alternately labeled the EBOX) is the first system to truly meet the design standards of the Mac mini, Anandtech claims after receiving a sample of the desktop ahead of its projected June 3rd unveiling date. The site confirms that the system uses a 1.6GHz Atom and that this is instrumental to a small design: while helped by the lack of an optical drive, the size and cool nature of the Intel chip shrink the Eee Box to a size "quite similar" to the Apple TV while still serving as a full computer, according to the report.
"Ever since the release of the Mac mini I've yet to see a PC maker really come close to introducing a competitor," says Anand Lal Shimpi. "But ASUS has finally done it with this thing."
The mini computer is also characterized as having a similar level of connectivity with 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and gigabit Ethernet. In contrast to the Mac, however, the Eee Box will have a near-instant pre-boot environment: the Linux-based ExpressGate from some other ASUS mainboards will let users browse photos or the web, make Skype calls, and handle instant messages through Pidgin without starting up into the full desktop operating system.
Early testing also shows the Atom to be surprisingly quick given its low-end focus, with the inexpensive chip still capable of playing 720p HD video in H.264 and higher for less intensive formats like DivX.
ASUS outfits the Eee Box with 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and DVI out. The price and release date are still unavailable despite the leak, though the site notes that there will be three different trim levels in black and white colors. Most observers now plan for a sub-$300 starting price tag.