Saturday, February 2, 2008

Asustek Computer, a leading maker of personal computers and computer parts, announced on Wednesday a lineup of various devices that will be marketed under Eee trademark. The family will include a desktop, an HDTV and a monitor with build-in PC. The new products will allow Asus to enter the new markets, though, the success is hardly inevitable.

Eee Desktop

The first Eee product to be released this year is Asus E-DT (or Eee DT), an inexpensive desktop sold without a monitor. Initially the device will be based on an Intel Celeron microprocessor, but eventually its insides will be switched to code-named Shelton platform. It is projected that the computer will cost less than $300 with possibilities to reduce the pricing to sub-$200 level, the firm said at a news-conference.

Since conventional desktop computers seem to be get less and less popular, it the Eee desktop PC will hardly get popular, fairly due to the fact that systems from companies like Dell or HP, not talking about large local manufacturers, are more likely to find themselves in huge retail stores, to a degree because the system will be based on Linux and partly because the computer comes without a monitor.

Eee Monitor

Asus E-Monitor will be an all-in-one desktop system like Apple iMac, Dell XPS One or Gateway One based on Intel Shelton platform. The PC will have 19” or 21” screen and is projected to feature a TV-tuner. The company expects the system to be priced at sub-$500 level and make it available in September.

Given its low price level and untraditional form-factor, the Eee Monitor from Asus may find clients for itself. However, likely performance constraints and Linux operating system may leave the device on shelves stores rather than land them atop of end-users’ desks.


Perhaps, the most ambitious Asus Eee device so far is Asus E-TV: a 42” LCD HDTV with build-in Linux based PC that is due in September as well. Nothing is known about the device, there are more questions than answers, e.g., whether it will offer full-HD resolution (1920x1080 with progressive scan) along with high-quality high-definition video post-processing engine, what type of matrix is set to be used, etc.

This is not the first time when Asustek attempts to enter the market of consumer electronics: about four years ago the company unveiled its DigiMatrix device that was a barebone for building home theatre personal computers. At the time the product failed to become successful, but the company has not forgotten its intentions to find itself on the market with Samsung or Sony.

A potential problem that Asus may face with its E-TV is that neither “Asus” nor “Eee” are well-known outside the world of personal computers. While “Asus Eee PC” name may cause some kind of “innovative” attitude, given the fact that Eee is widely discussed in the press, it may also cause negative attitude, as many know that the Eee PC is an inexpensive and simplistic solution, not a high-end high-performance device.


Not only large electronics conglomerates call their product lineups differently (e.g. Sony’s Vaio is PC and Bravia is a TV), but smaller consumer electronics makers try to follow too (Apple’s iPod is a portable digital media player, whereas Apple TV is a set-top-box). Therefore, calling everything from a notebook to a desktop to a TV with the same brand will inevitably ruin the value of this brand and will cause confusion among end-users.

Perhaps, Asustek just wants its Asus Eee PCs and devices to become Nintendo Wii of personal computers, but in that case it needs to invent something unique about it. For example, despite of low-performance graphics engine and microprocessor, Nintendo Wii has motion-sensitive game-controller, which is not available on other game machines. Meanwhile, all the Asus Eee PC has now is relatively low-performance hardware amid simplistic operating system and low-price. But Asus thinks it is enough.

“Traditional PCs are too powerful, no matter in the home or office; we are seeing quad-core rising with octo-core coming in the near future, and the more cores in a CPU, the more memory the system needs. Is all this really necessary? With the Eee PC we decided to go back to basics, to bring the focus to just functions and reasonable price levels,” said said Jonney Shih, chief executive of Asustek, in an interview last November.

Given the message that Asustek has been sending about Eee, it is unlikely that there are clear skies for the Eee products and the brand itself: hardly a lot of people would like to go back to basics from currently available crystal-clear photos, high-definition videos, high-quality games and some other quality features that exist as a result of performance improvements.

Asustek Computer has to aggressively penetrate new markets in order to keep its revenues growing, now that its contract manufacturing businesses act like independent units. However, it is unlikely that Eee family of different products will let Asus increase its earnings and profits.

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