For the longest time, Asus was the kind of company that was only known by techies and enthusiasts. Asus had very popular motherboards and other internal components, but it had very little in terms of consumer end products. That changed in recent years with the release of devices like the Eee PC line of netbooks.
The Eee branding soon expanded into the realm of all-in-one PCs with the Asus Eee Top and now the company is going one step further with its one of its first home theater PCs. Working off a subsidiary, we discover the ASRock Ion 330HT NetTop. It's got ASRock branding, but this is an Asus product through and through.
Features and Specifications
Interestingly enough, the name of this product is actually very indicative of what you find under the hood. Powering the show is an Intel Dual Core Atom 330 processor (1.6GHz) and the graphics come by way of the powerful NVIDIA ION graphics processor.
According to the official marketing materials, this combination is said to be perfect for full HD 1080p playback capabilities. And the HT part of the name? That's for home theater. You'll also find an Ion 330HT-BD variation which comes pre-installed with a Blu-ray Disc drive.
Other highlights include the integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, RAID 0 and RAID 1 support, powered eSATA port, multiple USB ports, Media Center Edition (MCE) remote control, HDMI output, 320GB hard drive, and 2GB DDR2-800 RAM (upgradeable to 4GB).
What's in the Box?
Popping open the box, we discover the ASRock Ion 330HT itself, the necessary power supply and cable, remote control, HDMI to DVI adapter, extra SATA cable, some hard drive mounting screws, supporting documentation, driver CD, and a soft mat.
There is no cable included for connecting the HTPC to your television, so you'll need to go out and grab an HDMI cable on your own. Thankfully, there are some pretty affordable options out there that don't start with Mon- and end with -ster.
The official product page for the ASRock Ion 330HT is a little amusing for one primary reason. I don't mind the high-gloss finish of the body on this device, but I wouldn't say that the paint is "similar to the paint of a Mercedes-Benz." The gloss does make for a fingerprint magnet though.
There are many other companies that produce small form factor PCs and home theater PC cases, but the ASRock Ion 330HT sounds like it's supposed to work right out of the box. This should lower the barrier of entry for many people who aren't as keen to build their own computers.
The overall size of the Ion 330HT is quite impressive as well. It's a little thicker than a Nintendo Wii, but it has about the same footprint at 195mm x 70mm x 186mm. The low power consumption, as evidenced by its Energy Star 5.0 achievement, is quite nice too. Especially since a home theatre PC is meant to be left on most of the time.