The Asus Eee Box requires little space on your desk and, starting at just £199, it's a great value system for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC. UPDATED 13 AUGUST 2008.
The Eee Box doesn't have an optical drive, but it does have four USB ports, so you can easily add an external drive. Open the front vertical flap and you'll find two USB, a multi-card reader and audio in and out jacks. At the back are the other two USB, gigabit ethernet , DVI video out, and a socket to accept the included antenna for built-in draft-n Wi-Fi networking.
Our test unit came with Windows XP Home; a Linux version should ship later this year. The Eee Box starts up into ExpressGate, a pre-Windows interface that lets you boot into Windows, enter the BIOS, or use a simplified Linux-based environment.
This includes a web browser, instant messaging client, and Skype - all of which make online access quick and easy. The ExpressGate preboot does not support CD or video playback. We found that while the Windows XP system took almost 40 seconds to boot, ExpressGate took less than hald this time at 18 seconds to readiness for use.
With its black, boxy, angular design, the Eee Box recalls Apple's Airport Extreme or Nintendo's Wii. It includes a screw-on stand, as well as a VESA mount for attaching the system to the back of a monitor. And, unlike some ultracompact desktops, the Box includes a user-replaceable hard drive.
The Eee Box is a great value that's geared toward students, as well as home and small-office users. Even with its internal fan it's practically silent and consumes little power, making it easy to recommend as the start of a budget or second PC system.
NEXT PAGE: original review, from August 07 2008