According to news reports ASUS are releasing desktop and LCD screen mounted versions of their Linux low power, low cost Eee PC. The "E-DT" is a desktop version for under $US300 due by May 2008. The "E-Monitor" will be mounted in a 21" LCD TV and be about US$500 (due in September) and the "E-TV" a 42 inch LCD TV some time later.
The E-DT makes a lot of sense, being essentially a "thick" thin client computer, but one which has a marketing head start on the back of the Eee PC. Thin clients have previously been niche products and the E-DT may break that trend. It could be particularly good for the education market, cyber cafes and the like.
The Eee PC makes a good thin thin client: I am typing this on one now, with the internal LCD screen switched off, using an external LCD monitor, keyboard and mouse. This arrangement works fine for web browsing, email and some minor document editing. The generous number of USB ports allow connection of peripherals. As I commented when the Eee PC came out, about all ASUS needs to do is omit the LCD screen, keyboard, touch pad and battery to make a thin client computer for about US$199.
The "E-Monitor" may suffer from falling somewhere between a office computer and a home TV appliance. A 21 inch screen is still large for an office computer screen but small for a TV. It might have a niche market as a second home TV, perhaps on the kitchen bench or in the home office.
The E-TV with a 42 inch screen may never make it to market. Previous attempts to combine a computer and TV have been less than successful. While I have written about Using a Widescreen LCD for TV, operating the computer while on the lounge chair is difficult, even with a cordless mouse and keyboard.
E-DT As a Office Docking Station?
The E-DT would not be considered in many corporate offices, being seen as underpowered and running a non-standard operating system. However, if most applications are accessed via a web browser, and the few Windows ones were accessible via a remote server, then it could be used. It might also be used as a docking station for Microsoft Windows running laptops and smartphones. The E-DT would be connected to an LCD screen, keyboard, mouse, printer and LAN. It would communicate with the user's laptop or smart phone using WiFi, and acting as a wireless docking station, allowing the desktop keyboard and screen to be used.