About as high-end as a nettop can get.
Having already pushed the limits of the nettop – as defined as a small, low powered device – with the Eee Box B204 and B206 Asus is at it again with the B208. This time the company has crammed a dual-core Atom chip and Radeon HD 4350 graphics into the same teeny tiny package.
That 1.6GHz dual-core Atom 330 sits alongside 1GB of RAM, which seems a little stingy, but at least the HD 4350 gets 256MB of its own memory to play with – easing the strain a little. 160GB, 250GB and 320GB hard drive-sporting configurations will be available all useful for storing HD content, which can be decoded using the GPU, to be played back over the B208’s HDMI port.
Connectivity comes in the form of a quartet of USB ports, Ethernet and Draft-N wireless. A built-in battery provides a UPS-like capability to shut down safely should power fail; the system isn’t going to get operating life comparable Eee PC netbooks, though. Especially as Vista, rather than XP, is installed – with Eee Cinema and a bundled remote catering for multimedia playback.
If Asus can get the pricing right on this one it could well have a compelling rival to the new Mac Mini – styling aside.