Asustek to launch iMac rival in September

Asustek plans to launch an iMac rival in September, the Eee Monitor.

Asustek Computer plans to launch the Eee Monitor in September, a PC built into a monitor designed to rival Apple's iMac, the company's CEO said Monday.

The new device joins the Taiwanese company's popular Eee family of products, which started with the low-cost mini-laptop, the Eee PC. Asustek has expanded its laptop line to include different OSs, Linux and Windows XP, as well as configurations and sizes. The company will launch two new Eee PCs at Computex Taipei 2008 on Tuesday, the Eee PC 901, which boasts nearly eight hours of battery life, and the Eee PC 1000, which has a 10-inch screen and regular-sized keyboard.

But the company is already looking ahead to new products to keep the Eee family fresh, said Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek, in a briefing.

The Eee Monitor will be a stand-alone monitor and PC similar to the iMac. But the Eee line is designed to be low-cost, so Asustek's Eee Monitor will likely beat the iMac on price. Shen declined to comment further on the Eee Monitor's price or configuration.

Asustek is also launching Eee Box soon, a white mini-desktop PC about the size of a hardback book that will come with either a Linux or Windows XP OS. Shen said it will cost between US$200 and $300 per unit.

Eee Box uses an Intel Atom microprocessor and will come in a range of configurations, including a choice of hard drives from 80G bytes to 250G bytes in size, and allow users to surf the Internet wirelessly via 802.11n Wi-Fi. It also carries four USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, two each in front and back, and a slot for MMCs (Multimedia Cards), SD (Secure Digital) cards and Memory Sticks.

"In the future, we'll expand the features," Shen said.

Asustek also plans to bring Wii-like wireless gaming to PCs with the Eee Stick, gaming controllers that use motion sensors so people can bowl, slash swords and play other games on a PC. Eee Stick is designed for PC gamers, not game console users. They work with PC game pads, mice and keyboards and connect to the PC via USB (universal serial bus) ports.

Starting around August, the company will bundle the controllers with its popular Eee PC low-cost laptops and the desktop Eee Box. Next year, the Eee Sticks will be sold in packs with five to eight games for around NT$2,000 to NT$2,500 (US$66 to $82).

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Dan Nystedt

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