Just like Asus introduced the world to the netbook and manufacturers followed suit, so is the same thing happening with the “nettop” concept. Powered by Intel’s now-ubiquitous Atom processor, these low-powered desktops are efficient machines handy for home servers or internet terminals. It’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out in an increasingly large populations, so companies like MSI are being forced to innovate — all to the benefit of the consumer.
Credit: Le Journal du Geek
Enter the Windbox. While MSI has had an Atom-based desktop out for a while under the Wind PC moniker, the Windbox is a more streamlined concept. Designed around the idea of a bring your own all-in-one PC, the machine is designed to attach to the rear of any VESA-compatible display. Asus’ Eee Box came with this functionality from the beginning, but it was never really marketed or even heavily designed to take advantage of the capability.
The specs are nothing to write home about, with an Atom N270 @ 1.6GHz (no dual core, sorry), up to 2 gigs of RAM, 250GB hard drive, 3 USB ports, VGA out, integrated 7.1 audio, Gigabit ethernet, 802.11b and g as well as a memory card reader. Naturally, the Windboxes ship with Windows XP. No price point was given, but around $250 was suggested. They’ll be released in Europe first, but given MSI’s international nature, it won’t be long before widespread availability is seen.
The biggest thing to take home from this release isn’t that the Windbox is an amazing new computer. In fact, it’s internals are no different than every other Atom-based desktop we’ve seen recently. The form factor and implied usage, however, are very interesting. Now that technology is available and has almost saturated the market, manufacturers are being forced to come up with new roles, new ideas, new forms. Essentially letting customers build there own all-in-one PC, the Windbox is a very cool piece of kit. No need to worry about one part of the machine breaking, which reduces cost and increases longevity in the long run.
I think that MSI, with proper marketing, could really have something on their hands. The Windbox is perfect for occasional internet usage, or for public or kitchen PCs. The Windbox actually makes the nettop platform exciting, and I for one can’t wait to see what manufacturers come up with next.
Le Journal du Geek (in French)