updated 11:10 am EST, Wed December 3, 2008
ASUS Eee Box B204 and B206
ASUS today sought the edge in the burgeoning field of nettops by launching two new Eee Box models. Both the B204 and B206 are some of the first nettops to have dedicated graphics hardware and use a Radeon HD 3400 to offload most of the work of decoding HD video and turn the PC into a budget home theater. The new hardware also gives the Eee Box HDMI output to connect it to HDTVs and is preloaded with the same Eee Cinema software from the Eee Top to provide a media front end for the HD video now accessible through the mini desktops.
The B204 is considered ASUS' best model and is the one most explicitly built with home theaters in mind, coming with both Bluetooth for wireless keyboards and remotes as well as a battery backup that lets owners shut the system down gracefully in the event of a power failure. Either otherwise has specifications similar to the base Eee Box with a 1.6GHz Atom, 1GB of memory, a 160GB hard drive and 802.11n Wi-Fi all driven by Windows XP.
Keeping in tune with ASUS' normal launch pattern, the company hasn't provided release dates or pricing, though the B204 and B206 should cost slightly more than the standard model.