AOpen's Mac mini look-alike to hit US stores

Taiwanese computer maker AOpen Inc. is about to put on sale a mini PC that looks a lot like Apple Computer Inc.’s Mac mini. The computer was first unveiled at this year’s Computex exhibition in Taipei in June and the design similarities caused a stir at the time.

The two machines are virtually the same size — both measure 165 millimeters square and at 50 millimeters high the AOpen machine is a millimeter thinner than Apple’s computer. They also have the same curved edges and a CD slot in the upper portion of the front panel. But there are differences: AOpen’s computer has a power button on the front panel, which isn’t present on the Mac mini.

The AOpen machine, called the ‘miniPC,’ is based on an Intel Corp. Pentium-M processor and features include a DVD burner, built-in Ethernet and 802.11 a/b/g wireless Ethernet, Bluetooth, dual USB ports, an IEEE1394 port and DVI and S-Video connectors.

More detailed specifications were not supplied but in Taiwan the machine is offered with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard-disk drive. A second version based on the Celeron M with the same amount of memory and a 40GB hard-disk drive is also offered in AOpen’s home market.

It will be available in the U.S. from this month and prices will start at US$399 for a Linux-based version sold through Linspire, AOpen said in a statement. Machines based on Windows XP will start at $499 and will be available through AOpen resellers. Custom PC maker Voodoo also offers a version for $900.

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