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MP3 SOUND RECORDING
These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality,
digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've
listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original
WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during
The recording of the Eee Box was made with the unit at idle, and the microphone
1m away, first on a table in the hemi-anechoic chamber, and then mounted on
the back of an LCD monitor, and the microphone 1m away from the front of the
monitor. It starts with the room ambient, followed by the product's noise.
For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient
level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while
comparing all the sound files.
Unfortunately, at this time, we have no comparable sound files of system recordings
made in the anechoic chamber with our new microphone.
Eee Box vs. SqueezeBox
My personal ideal use for the Eee Box puts it on the back of a good LCD
monitor in an open wall cabinet in the living room. It will have several
- Convenient web/email PC - no more going downstairs or waiting
for a laptop to power up and connect on wifi.
- Slideshow machine for displaying digital photos so that all
those thousands of photos get some appreciation on a nice big high resolution
screen instead being lost forever or viewed only online. The Google
Photos Screensaver for Windows might be just about perfect for this
- Music control PC to access the uncompressed CD-quality music
files on my network and output it through SPDIF into my high end DAC
for playback through my home audio system. This would be in combination
with a good wireless media keyboard/mouse, to replace the more limited
menu / control of a Squeezebox,
which has been in use since our
review back in 2005.
Hence, the absence of HDMI, 1080-resolution video playback or more elaborate
audio outputs are moot for me. The very low power consumption, low noise,
wifi and back-of-monitor mounting are perfect.
The Eee Box is an interesting expansion of the Asus Eee line (even though the
choice of moniker is most unfortunate, imo). It is a perfectly capable PC for
most users, performing all the routine functions we ask of our PCs with no disappointments.
No one expects it to be a workstation or gaming rig, and in those functions
the Eee Box would fail. Unfortunately, the B202 doesn't quite live up to the
billing of home entertainment hub. It cannot handle video with higher resolution
than 720p, which means it will fail to play many BluRay movies. The absence
of a DVD drive also limits it somewhat, but external DVD players are plentiful
these days, and so many users are collecting movies as digital files rather
than on plastic disks.
The energy efficiency of the Eee Box is a very positive point. Through most
tasks, it draws less than 20W, and the most demanding thing the typical user
will ask of it, playback of 720p video, will only draw 22W. This is exceptionally
low power demand, better than just about any PC we can think of.
The ease with which the Eee Box can be mounted on the back of an LCD monitor
is welcome. On the back of our 19" Gateway or 24" Asus monitor, and
with just a bit of cable management, the box became essentially invisible and
well-nigh inaudible, making possible an unobtrusive, elegant, always-on web/email
box in the living room.
It's probably not cheaper than a similarly equipped DIY box with an Intel D945GCLF
Atom mini-ITX board, but it might be quieter and it's more elegant than any
of the mini-ITX enclosures currently available. It's probably also significantly
more energy efficient except, perhaps, if you opt for a very high efficiency
AC/DC adapter with a PicoPSU.
We know that a dual-core Atom is coming. Will there be an Eee Box with a dual-core
Atom? Probably. Will it play 1080 resolution clips? We don't know, but many
people won't care. They already have a big screen 40"+ 1080i high resolution
LCD or plasma TV for movies, but they don't have a cute, perfectly functional
mini-PC that hangs quietly on the back of a monitor in the living room or kitchen.
Is $350* a good price for such a machine? It probably depends on your needs,
wants and budget, but some people will find it irresistible.
* Very low power consumption
* Very quiet
* Good enough performance
* Built in wifi
* SPDIF out
* Stylish, small & mounts on back of monitor
* Can't play 1080 video
* Fairly slow CPU
* No HDMI
* No DVD / BluRay drive
Our thanks to Asus
for the Eee Box sample.
* * *
*An aside about the price of such machines: NCIX, an online store
based in Vancouver, had a major promotion of the Eee Box when it was first
released for sale here. They offered a free 22" Asus monitor for the
first 10 buyers of the Eee Box; this was most likely an Asus-sponsored promotion.
I had a go at the lineup, but it was well over 15 persons long when I showed
late, and almost everyone seemed to be there for the Eee Box + monitor deal.
It was interesting to chat with those waiting. One geeky pundit suggested
that the Eee Box was actually ideal for those who would never know to buy
one unless advised by one of their geeky friends, of the type who were mostly
in the lineup. The ordinary low-end Dell, HP, Apple or Lenovo buyer would
feel too insecure about buying a non-standard PC like the Eee Box when for
the most part, it's precisely all they need: A small, quiet, energy efficient
box for email, web, photo sharing, the odd youtube/facebook video.
The big PC system brands have not ignored the small box trend. Dell is
now offering the Studio
Hybrid, a wee box with optical drive only marginally bigger than the Eee
Box; it starts at $499 with keyboard and mouse but runs an Intel C2Duo CPU
that can easily play BlueRay. The HP
Pavilion Slimline s3500t is similar to Dell's offering but just a
bit bigger and starts at the same price. Neither brand has any Atom-based
low power PCs as of yet, although both offer mini laptops:
Dell's Atom-powered Inspiron Mini 9 and HP's
VIA C7-M based 2133.
Articles of Related Interest
Hiper Media Center PC HMC-2K53A-A3
Apple's 24" iMac: There's more to High End than Performance
Shuttle's Smallest Yet: XPC X100
Asus P3-P5G33 Barebone Slim PC
Intel D945GCLF m-ITX: Atom For The Desktop
Albatron KI690-AM2: A Mini-ITX Powerhouse
* * *
this article in the SPCR forums.
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