Sunday, March 14, 2010

Powerful Tech Tools from ASUS

The wise gurus tell us we should stick to our core business. They also tell us that unless we grow, we will die. In the technology world, the challenge is that to grow very often means expanding our core competence. So, what are we supposed to do actually?

ASUS, my favorite computer and computer component makers, seems to combine the two. Remember the Nuvifone G60? It was unfortunately an unsuccessful attempt to enter the cell phone market, in which both Garmin and ASUS are still trying to accumulate the kind of expertise and experience that industry stalwarts such as LG Mobile, Motorola, Nokia, Nokiaand Sony Ericsson already possess.

However, as ASUS and Garmin are strong in their respective competency — Garmin in GPS and ASUS in gadget design and manufacturing — they may eventually succeed.

In the case of ASUS, the more obvious strength lies in its leadership in designing and manufacturing computer components and combining them into reliable, standard-setting products. Quite a few ASUS products, which incorporate the latest technologies, became highlights at last month’s Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

This time around, the product I really like is the new eee Box PC EB1501. Too bad, though, Cynthia Yunita from ASUS Indonesia told me this model might never be available here.

I had reviewed the first version before and I was really enamored with it, but this reincarnation has a DVD drive (usually called ODD) and it is capable of pumping High Definition video (1080p) directly to a TV screen with the help of its NVIDIA Ion graphics subsystem. Unlike the early Intel Atom N270-based eee Box, this small and very quiet nettop runs on an Intel Atom Dual Core N330 running at 1.6 GHz.

What amazes me particularly is the variety of connections this tiny box provides. To cater to almost every need, the eee Box has HDMI, S/PDIF and RJ-45 for wired ethernet connection to a network, 802.11/n for wireless connections, D-Sub for a VGA monitor, eSata for additional storage, a card reader, audio ports and six USB ports.

The audio subsystem can be connected to a 5:1 speaker configuration for a great home theater experience. I guess the reason it is not going to be released in Indonesia is the hefty price we would have to pay for it.

Any ASUS store is also a gamer’s paradise. Mind you, gamers compete against each other in building the fastest computers with blazing graphics. Who can overclock their system the most? And when it comes to shopping for gaming components, Indonesian gamers seem to have dozens of money-growing trees in their backyards.

Even sixth-graders are familiar with the best components and willing and able to spend far more than professional aeronautics engineers or architects when it comes to buying super-duper computer components.

ASUS’ focus on this high-end, deep-pocket user segments is reflected in the formation of Republic of Gamers (ROG). In the ROG category, for example, we can find the Matrix GTX285 graphics subsystem and the RAMPAGE III Extreme motherboard.

This motherboard is targeted for overclockers – those who enjoy forcing their systems to run faster than their manufacturers have rated them. This is usually achieved by tweaking voltage and frequency.