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Asus Eee keyboard could be out in May

Asus Eee keyboard could be out in May

The Eee Keyboard will come in two versions, one of which will feature a wireless HDMI connection.

We haven’t really seen a successful PC-in-a-keyboard design since the home computer heyday, when the Atari ST and Amiga 500 were the pride and joys of 1980s school kids playing Xenon 2. However, Asus’ new Eee keyboard could potentially change that by offering a fully functional HTPC inside a very flash looking keyboard.

The company first showed off a prototype of the Eee Keyboard at CES in January, but Asus has now revealed some more details about the self-contained PC, as well as potential release dates, at the CeBIT show in Hannover. Gizmodo reports that the PC will be based on a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, and will be equipped with 1GB of RAM and an SSD with either 16GB or 32GB of storage space.

According to The Register, there will be two versions at different price points, with the main distinguishing feature being a wireless HDMI connection to the TV. Although no specific pricing was revealed, Asus’ CEO Jerry Shen estimated that the standard wired version will cost around $400 US (£285), while the wireless version will cost somewhere between $400 US and $600 US (£427).

Other ports included on the back of the keyboard include a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a VGA connector and a standard HDMI port. It also looks as though Bluetooth and WiFi features will be included as standard. Perhaps most impressively, the Eee Keyboard will also feature a 5in display on the right that looks a little like a built-in iPod Touch.

According to The Register, Asus’ company chairman Jonney Shih said that the new Eee Keyboard could be released as soon as May this year, but that June would be a more realistic bet.

Will those specs offer enough power for a capable HTPC, and would you be interested in picking up a keyboard with a built-in HTPC? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

35 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Blademrk 4th March 2009, 14:25 Quote
I like the look of this.
Quote:
impressively, the Eee Keyboard will also feature a 5in display on the right that looks a little like a built-in iPod Touch
at first glance I thought it was an ipod touch.
Angleus 4th March 2009, 14:34 Quote
Its a cool idea but I think a little bit pricey for what it does, interesting to see the wireless hdmi stuff though
Bauul 4th March 2009, 14:35 Quote
That looks really lovely actually. The wireless HDMI is a brilliant addition.
Jamie 4th March 2009, 14:40 Quote
Wireless HDMI sounds like a lot of hassle to me.
p3n 4th March 2009, 14:47 Quote
Why on earth have the 'brains' in the keyboard? Crazy.
kylew 4th March 2009, 14:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Wireless HDMI sounds like a lot of hassle to me.

Yeah, all that plugging in and unplugging you'll have to do when you want to move to an other room, oh wait...
kylew 4th March 2009, 14:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by p3n
Why on earth have the 'brains' in the keyboard? Crazy.

It's essentially an uncommon form-factor laptop without the screen.

I think it looks great, though I doubt I'd ever get one as for the amount you'd spend on it you could get quite a nice and powerful HTPC. I know power isn't the point of an HTPC but for the same or only a bit extra you may as well in my opinion.
ChaosDefinesOrder 4th March 2009, 15:00 Quote
Possibly the most important question w.r.t the wireless HDMI is what is the range like? Can you be sat at the optimal viewing distance from the screen with the keyboard on your lap and still get proper HD images?

The keyboard itself looks great - the multi-function screen thingy on the right is a good idea - could be used as a trackpad, or VFD etc...
Diosjenin 4th March 2009, 15:01 Quote
Atom CPU... hmm. If it can play back 1080p (a potentially big 'if,' since it doesn't have Ion), I'd almost consider picking one up for my main rig.

32GB of storage isn't enough for an HTPC (IMO), and wiring it to an external hard drive kind of defeats the concept. But hook it up correctly to your regular PC and this serves basically an identical function to the VIA Artigo - plus some HD playback capability and a nifty touchscreen, and hopefully sans the Artigo's noisy fan.
Fod 4th March 2009, 15:04 Quote
with the right software, and an IR distributor, this would make a killer home theatre controller, and competes pricewise. you don't wanna know how much those marantz/philips programmable remotes are :-/
D3s3rt_F0x 4th March 2009, 15:19 Quote
If that could play 1080p would be legendary, no gaming on it but who cares for that price and something thats going to be as quiet and sveltte as that and wont look out of place in a living room.
RinSewand 4th March 2009, 15:41 Quote
That looks fantastic...

As it's got wireless I don't think the lack of storage should be too much of an issue, that coupled with a low powered fileserver and you're sorted. Wonder what the battery life will be like though with all that wireless going on?

RwD
Skiddywinks 4th March 2009, 15:50 Quote
The extra cost for the wirless HDMI is a bit steep IMO. However, having your HTPC on your lap whilst watching a film on your TV 6 or 7 feet away does sound sweet.

I do have a question though; I'm not too knowledgable about HTPC's, so I am wondering how powerful this is going to be? Are the parts up to the task of decoding 1080p etc? Is it going to work like an Ion?
Diosjenin 4th March 2009, 16:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiddywinks
Are the parts up to the task of decoding 1080p etc? Is it going to work like an Ion?

That's one of the bigger questions at the moment. The only place I saw that had hard specs said it ran off the Intel 945 chipset, but I don't remember how dated that was, and even now the specs are still subject to some level of change. I personally don't much care if it's Ion or not provided it can decode 1080p.
knyghtryda 4th March 2009, 16:19 Quote
Give it wireless N and 1080p playback and you've got the ultimate HTPC frontend. Just stick the big honking storage on the network somewhere and stream it to the machine.
Nicb 4th March 2009, 16:24 Quote
Sounds like it would be good for the kitchen or visitors at the house that need to get on for a bit.
BlackDiamond 4th March 2009, 16:56 Quote
I think that a milder version of this has the potential to replace the standard Dell/HP/etc. boxes you see in offices used for word processing/email/web browsing.
It needs less power (from the outlet), takes less space than a typical case (even a slim one) and looks "cute" - i can already hear all the secretaries in the world going "Oooh!" when they see it for the first time.
pimlicosound 4th March 2009, 17:02 Quote
My MSI Wind on Atom and Intel 945 chipset on Windows XP struggles to play even 540p video. I wouldn't hold much hope for 1080p, unless you're a big fan of slideshows.
nicae 4th March 2009, 17:20 Quote
You're basically swapping the EeePC's screen for the HDMI and side-screen.
Maybe I'm better of with a normal EeePC with HDMI output? That way I could carry it around as a laptop as well.
serial_ 4th March 2009, 17:35 Quote
this thing should have built-in WiFi, and tbh I think it will play 1080p just fine, but if you're like me and you really don't care about hi def, this thing looks awesome. The idea of having a keyboard that's pushing to my screen and pulling dvd-rips off my fileserver in the closet makes this thing an attractive piece.

I'm already thinking of the possibilities in my house for this thing.
pimlicosound 4th March 2009, 18:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by serial_
this thing should have built-in WiFi, and tbh I think it will play 1080p just fine, but if you're like me and you really don't care about hi def, this thing looks awesome. The idea of having a keyboard that's pushing to my screen and pulling dvd-rips off my fileserver in the closet makes this thing an attractive piece.

I'm already thinking of the possibilities in my house for this thing.

What makes you think it will play 1080p video just fine? The performance of this PC will be the same as the Eee PC in this video:

http://www.tweaktown.com/news/9894/video_via_s_nano_kills_intel_atom_at_1080p/index.html
n3mo 4th March 2009, 18:54 Quote
Wait, what? Atom and 1080p, you must be kidding. Atom struggles with 720p Xvid decoded with CoreAVC (easiest thing to decode next to low-res Xvid), 1080p Xvid gives a nice slideshow and 1080p X.264 with multichannel sound gives the "watching grandma's holiday pictures" effect (one frame every five seconds).

Atom wasn't made for this, I think that some manufacturers got a little carried away with enthusiasm and stretch it too much. Unless it will run Ion, wchich isn't very likely. Via Nano would be a much better choice, it can at least play 1080p smoothly and Nano + Ion would be so sweet I would buy five of them.
LAGMonkey 4th March 2009, 19:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by knyghtryda
Give it wireless N and 1080p playback and you've got the ultimate HTPC frontend. Just stick the big honking storage on the network somewhere and stream it to the machine.

sorry to spoil the fun, but wireless N isnt anyware near reliable for 1080p deployment unless you happen to live in the middle of no-where and dont use bluetooth, cordless phones etc etc. My HTPC was originally setup like that but after so much trouble i just run it on CAT5. it sits there and dosnt have to move so it was the right choice.

Nice keyboard tho, as a remote for my HTPC it would be perfect,
Mr T 4th March 2009, 20:26 Quote
Wireless HDMI or not. Surely it requires a battery to run making it slightly pointless?
[PUNK] crompers 4th March 2009, 20:41 Quote
if it cant decode 1080p then its largely pointless, if it can its genius
HourBeforeDawn 4th March 2009, 20:55 Quote
isnt the main factor for an HTPC is storage? so you can store all your movies and music into one place to access them to watch? I mean I guess you could do wireless networking and have storage somewhere else, hmm well it certainly has potential.
ZERO <ibis> 4th March 2009, 21:51 Quote
I wish they will make something like this for the upcoming Nvidia phone, Imagine if you had a laptop like device that was only a screen and keyboard with maybe a cd drive. It does not have a computer but allows you to insert your Nvidia phone and use it as the computer. All the parts in the laptop device just add to it, like a full size keyboard and screen along with more battry life. Depending on how advanced the software and hardware is in the future it could run a regular version of windows in this mode or Linux and act like a regular laptop. This would be light weight and very portable. Such a modular system is what I dream of in the future where I can have one device that can rapidly be adjusted to meet different needs on the go!
bubsterboo 5th March 2009, 01:12 Quote
If they used the Nvidia 9400 chipset it could play 1080p. Otherwise there's no chance.
HourBeforeDawn 5th March 2009, 01:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubsterboo
If they used the Nvidia 9400 chipset it could play 1080p. Otherwise there's no chance.

well intel does have an HD chipset and on something like this Im sure they would push it as they dont have an agreement with nVidia hence the whole ION2 being VIA as the Atom was/is a flop. To be fair anything can play "1080p", its just a matter of if it support HDCP and the other hi-def encryptions.
bubsterboo 5th March 2009, 01:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
well intel does have an HD chipset and on something like this Im sure they would push it as they dont have an agreement with nVidia hence the whole ION2 being VIA as the Atom was/is a flop. To be fair anything can play "1080p", its just a matter of if it support HDCP and the other hi-def encryptions.

Not anything can play 1080p. The atom is too slow to play even low bitrate H264 1080p, let alone 40mbit blurays. Intel's current line up of GPUs don't do DXVA properly AFAIK. The nvidia chipset does, and it has a bonus of being able to hardware accelerate H264 at levels higher then 4.1.

I realize it won't get that chipset because of the nvidia intel stories. But if it uses the intel chipsets i won't be sold. If it uses a Nvidia chipset with DXVA and Cuda I'd definitely be sold.

HDCP compliant support is only to enable bluray playback off the disc to a digital display. Your hardware has to be powerful enough to decode the codecs first. HDCP is the last priority IMO.
HourBeforeDawn 5th March 2009, 02:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubsterboo
Not anything can play 1080p. The atom is too slow to play even low bitrate H264 1080p, let alone 40mbit blurays. Intel's current line up of GPUs don't do DXVA properly AFAIK. The nvidia chipset does, and it has a bonus of being able to hardware accelerate H264 at levels higher then 4.1.

I realize it won't get that chipset because of the nvidia intel stories. But if it uses the intel chipsets i won't be sold. If it uses a Nvidia chipset with DXVA and Cuda I'd definitely be sold.

well the dual core atoms handle it fairly well but I wasnt stating playability just the fact that 1080p as a reference isnt a closed statement so anything can potentially play 1080p as its just a resolution unlike blu-ray, there is a difference between 1080p and blu-ray, yes they are both 1080p but one has protection the other may not, thats all I was saying, so for it to be a true HTPC setup they would have to use one of intels HD chipsets with the ATOM and it would have to probably be a dualcore atom, either way I dont see it being successfull as an HTPC but as maybe a surf the internet with your tv kind of deal.
LordPyrinc 5th March 2009, 04:10 Quote
Hum... carry a keyboard around and depend on having a tv/monitor to use or carry a laptop that has its own screen? Methinks I go with a laptop which I could connect to a bigger tv/monitor if one is available.

That being said, I am not a fan of laptop keyboards. Don't use them that often, but the smaller dimensions can be a pain for someone used to typing on a normal sized keyboard.
The_Beast 5th March 2009, 05:25 Quote
That looks very cool but does it come in black?
Cupboard 6th March 2009, 13:05 Quote
It doesn't have enough storage space for an HTPC. The battery life is unlikely to be good enough for an evening's TV or a couple of films, especially in HD. So this is going to need to be plugged it to the mains, negating the usefulness of wireless HDMI. It is also going to need to have access to a (most likely) networked store of HD movies.

So why not save the trouble, plug your fileserver into the TV and get a wireless keyboard or an eee as a remote? That way you save money, still have the convenience of being able to control it from the sofa and possibly have a laptop to carry around with you!

Dear me I am having a cynical and depressing outlook today...
Jamie 6th March 2009, 13:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylew
Yeah, all that plugging in and unplugging you'll have to do when you want to move to an other room, oh wait...

Yes because all my monitors and TVs have wireless HDMI support.

I have enough problems with Wireless routers.

I doubt this will be able to play 1080p video over wireless HDMI.
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