Asus Eee Box B202 Saint John NB

The Eee Box is the smallest desktop PC we've seen, around the size of a large paperback book. It comes with a stand so it can be positioned vertically, but it's not very stable, so you'll have to hold the Eee Box steady when you are inserting and removing USB devices and memory cards.

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Asus Eee Box B202

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The Eee Box is the smallest desktop PC we've seen, around the size of a large paperback book. It comes with a stand so it can be positioned vertically, but it's not very stable, so you'll have to hold the Eee Box steady when you are inserting and removing USB devices and memory cards.

A flap on the front conceals a memory card reader, headphone and microphone sockets, and two USB2 ports. Another two USB2 ports are on the rear, alongside a Gigabit Ethernet port, while Draft-N WiFi is built in. On the back is an audio line-out, which doubles as an S/PDIF. The DVI port and Intel integrated graphics chip had no problem filling the full 1,920x1,200 resolution of a 24in widescreen monitor, but are unsuitable for 3D gaming.

One of our favourite features of the Eee Box is its included VESA mount, letting you attach it to the back of any compatible monitor, creating an all-in-one PC. It's great if you have little space on your desk, or you want to tuck the Eee Box out of the way behind your TV.

Windows XP Home Edition is installed, and generally felt quick and responsive. The 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and 1GB of RAM are fast enough for web browsing and office work, but struggle with more demanding tasks such as video editing. The Eee Box played standard-definition DivX videos flawlessly, but dropped frames playing high-definition WMV files. You can boot into a Linux distribution (Express Gate) in just seven seconds. This is useful, and includes an internet browser, photo viewer, chat software and Skype.

The 2in 80GB hard disk is big enough for most needs, but you can easily upgrade it with a larger-capacity model via a hatch in the base. The Eee Box's small dimensions mean there's no space for an optical drive, so you'll need a USB drive for watching DVDs, installing software from discs or even using the restore disk that comes bundled with it.

An equivalent Eee PC 1000 laptop with Windows XP and an 80GB hard disk, costs £121 more than the Eee Box, so there's a significant saving here if you don't need a portable computer. If you already have a monitor to spare, the Eee Box is an inexpensive new desktop PC. It's perfect for basic day-to-day computing tasks, or for use as a second PC for the kids. It also makes a flexible alternative to buying a streaming media player.

We expect to see many more mini PCs over the coming months, but the Eee Box is so well designed that other manufacturers will have a hard job making anything as good as this PC.

System Specifications

1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, 1GB RAM, 80GB hard disk, Windows XP Home Edition, 802.11b/g/Draft-N wireless and Gigabit ethernet, one year RTB warranty Power consumption 1W standby, 17W idle, 19W active

Author: Seth Barton

Computer Shopper Online