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Photos: Hands-on Asus Eee Keyboard that's a Media Center PC

Wow. We really didn't see this one coming. Asus has just shown off what is perhaps the most bizarre addition to the Eee range ever -- an Eee keyboard

Asus has just shown off what is perhaps the most bizarre Eee product we've ever seen -- the Eee Keyboard. Who saw that one coming?

It might look fairly basic, but it's actually a fully fledged computer. Inside, it's packing an Intel Atom N270 CPU running at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM, a choice of 16GB or 32GB of solid-state storage, and a 5-inch touch-sensitive display sitting to the far right-hand side.

The idea is that you connect the Eee Keyboard to an external display such as your TV via HDMI, or wirelessly via the integrated ultra-wideband HDMI. This effectively turns your telly into an Internet-capable Media Center-type machine, and a pretty versatile, compact one at that. 

The 5-inch gesture-responsive touchscreen can be used for all manner of tasks. It serves as a mouse trackpad and the gateway to a bevy of widget-style applications that let you access media files, adjust volume and playback, and view images and videos, all using gestures. Think iPhone minus the multi-touch and you're on the right lines.

The rest of the design is also pretty clever. All the keys are backlit, it has two USB ports, 802.b/g/n Wi-Fi, a memory card reader, plus Ethernet and VGA ports. The fact it looks very much like an iMac or MacBook keyboard doesn't hurt, either.

We've no word on pricing or availability, since it's still in the concept stage, but we can imagine there being a big demand for a product of this type. Hit 'Continue' for more pics and info, then let us know what you think in the comments below.

Various apps -- accessible via the touchscreen -- are pre-installed on the system. Here in the Tools panel, you see icons for launching the clock, calendar, a calculator and more.

Here's the picture viewer application in action. You can manually browse images or enable a slideshow mode.

The System Info panel clearly shows the Eee Keyboard is running an Intel Atom N270, 1GB of RAM and Windows XP. Presumably it would be easy for Asus to offer a Linux version.

Round the back of the machine is where you'll find the ports and that. It's packing HDMI, VGA, LAN, USB, audio and a memory card reader.