|ASUS CUBE Google TV Media Streamer|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 02 May 2013|
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Closer Look: ASUS CUBE
The ASUS CUBE with Google TV is a $139.00 (Newegg) home theater 'buddy box' that functions as a digital media player, entertainment console, and programming hub. CUBE utilizes a Marvell ARMADA 1500 (88DE3100) secure media processor system-on-chip (SoC), which pairs well to the well-known Google Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) operating system. ASUS adds an impressive universal remote control to CUBE, complete with keyboard, touch pad, microphone, and motion sensors.
If you're like me, over the years you've collected a huge digital library full of music, pictures, and movies onto your computer. Occasionally, I might watch a video from off my laptop or listen to a song while working at the desktop, but high-definition movies and music are really best enjoyed on a home theater system with larger screen and powerful speakers.
As one might expect based on the name, ASUS CUBE with Google TV is shaped like a square cube. Measuring 4.92" x 4.92" x 4.92" (12.50 cm3), ASUS CUBE is a bit taller than most other digital media players we've tested. It also weighs 18.4 oz, so supporting it on a stand or shelf is more likely than mounting it on a wall.
At the front of CUBE you'll find the ASUS logo, along with an IR (infrared) receiver window and power-indicating LED that glows when on or in standby. On the right side of CUBE is a one of two HighSpeed USB 2.0 ports, and a hard-reset pinhole.
Primary I/O ports are found at the back of CUBE, with ventilation opening discretely placed along the top with ports positioned below. There's a mini-jack output for the included IR Blaster, alongside separate HDMI input and output ports. The HDMI input can connect a cable/satellite/DVD/Blu-ray player or other HDMI source into CUBE for centralized management. The second of two USB 2.0 ports is located above the 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port. The unit's 12V 2A AC input port is the last item on the panel.
Digital audio is important to me, since it resists line noise and other sound artifacts from the source. Any A/V receiver (AVR) made since 2010 will offer plenty of HDMI inputs/outputs, which makes the ASUS CUBE a perfect component for any modern home theater system. However, older AVRs may require digital audio connections by either optical TosLink or digital coaxial cable, neither of which are supported by this device.
ASUS CUBE with Google TV utilizes the Marvell ARMADA 1500 SoC, which is capable of both 2D and 3D graphics to produce detailed menus and yield respectable gaming performance. The unit is passively cooled, so it remains silent with no additional energy requirements for noisy fans. ASUS has added flow-through ventilation on CUBE, with openings at the bottom base of the unit to allow air to rise up and out the back panel.