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Asus Eee Box First Look

At the rear is a wireless antenna jack, for which a small black antenna is provided - it's a pity Asus doesn't provide a white one. Next is the 19V power input. The power brick that comes with the Eee Box is surprisingly large, especially considering that this is essentially an Eee PC 1000H without the screen and the power supply for that is much smaller.

A single DVI-out is all that's provided but considering the limited processing power of the Eee, that's all you should need - especially since it will turn into VGA or HDMI with readily available adapters. There are a further two USB ports, a LAN port and 3.5mm audio-out on the back. This audio jack doubles as S/PDIF-out, allowing you to hook up full-quality digital sound to your sound system with the provided S/PDIF adapter. Even better news comes in the form of inbuilt Wireless Draft n. All of this goodness runs quite cool, and the Box never gets more than warm to the touch during everyday use.

In another nice and fairly rare touch, Asus has included a separate monitor mount that can be fitted to the Eee Box instead of its stand. This mount can then be attached to any monitor whose stand does not block the VESA mounting holes (which automatically excludes adjustable 24inchers like the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP) thus completely hiding the Eee Box behind your display (though it seems a shame to do so). Asus has even provided the necessary screws!

Last but not least, it's worth mentioning that aside from Windows XP, the Eee Box is running a second custom embedded OS called Express Gate (like on Asus' motherboards). This is a version of Splashtop, in turn an instant-on version of Linux. It boots up in under five seconds, and lets you browse the web, use Skype, view and manage your photographs or load Windows. To be honest, this isn't as clear-cut as it appears, since there are a further six seconds of loading if you choose the first three options, but it's still a great idea. The interface is slick and logical, and shutdown is instant.

So basically, you get a fully functional PC that looks stunning (despite the stickers), for the attractive MSRP of £199. Now if only Asus could find some way to add a DVD-writer, they could be on to a true winner. We'll have to see what MSI's Wind Desktop brings to the table since, apart from its weak battery, the mobile variant put up a pretty good challenge. But first impressions of the Eee Box suggest it will be just as successful as the Eee PC before it - keep your eyes peeled for our full review and definitive verdict soon!

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