Laptops

Asus Sells out of Eee Box in Taiwan Debut

Typhoon Fung Wong failed to spoil Asustek Computer's (Asus) plan to launch the mini-desktop version of its Eee PC in Taiwan on Wednesday. The company sold out of the Eee Box due in part to a surprisingly low price.

One thousand Eee Boxes were offered to Taiwanese consumers for NT$7,988 (US$262) through several retailers, including an e-store run by PChome Online. The e-tailer also offered the Eee Box with a 22-inch LCD monitor for NT$15,988.

"It's an amazing price, a very economical price," said Davis Tsai, general manager of Microsoft Taiwan, during the launch ceremony.

Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek, said his company expects to ship 100,000 to 200,000 Eee Boxes this year.

Taiwan became the second place in the world people could buy an Eee Box on Wednesday. Asus launched sales of the mini-desktop PC in Hong Kong on July 15, a representative said.

But other areas of the world will have to wait while the company ramps up production. Asustek will start rolling out the Eee Box more broadly in August, and by the end of September it should be available in most markets. Areas in Asia will be first, followed by Europe and then North America.

The Eee box contains Asus Express Gate software that allows quick access to a limited range of applications, including a Web browser and a media player without booting the main operating system. Express Gate is similar to Hewlett-Packard's QuickPlay and Dell's MediaDirect, and boots in just 7 seconds. Eee Box users choose between it and the Windows XP Home operating system when they turn the computer on. Unlike the Eee PC laptop, there is no version of the Eee Box so far that runs only Linux.

The Eee Box has a 1.6GHz Atom microprocessor from Intel, 1G byte of DRAM, an 80G-byte HDD (hard disk drive), speedy wireless Internet via Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, a 4-in-1 mini-storage card reader, and standard features such as Ethernet and USB ports.

Asus used the laptop version of the Atom processor inside the Eee Box to keep it quiet. The laptop version of the chip, which costs 52 percent more than the desktop Atom processor, gives off less heat so PC designers can put them in smaller areas and use heat sinks and other quieter cooling methods on them. Typical desktop PCs come with loud fans inside, and that's what Asus was trying to avoid. The company sees the Eee Box as a good living room device for users ready to hook up a PC to their LCD TV.

The Eee Box measures 233 millimeters by 178 mm by 16 mm without the stand, and weighs 1 kilogram.

The device comes in black, white, pink and pea green. It takes its name from the popular Eee PC mini-laptop from Asustek.

The company's launch plans for the Eee Box were nearly interrupted by Typhoon Fung Wong. The storm made landfall in Taiwan early Monday with sustained winds of 144 kilometers per hour, shutting down businesses and schools. Some typhoons have stalled over the island in the past, lashing it with heavy winds and rains. But Fung Wong crossed Taiwan quickly and headed for the Chinese mainland by Tuesday.

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