December 2003

How do you enter a market when you are “late to the game”?

In early 2003, a new breed of desktop computers emerged. Using a smaller type of mainboard and other miniaturized modular components, the systems were more powerful and expandable than notebook computers at the time and lent themselves to being “semi-portable” game machines, popular for use in network gaming sessions.

Focusing on full-sized components, Asus’s Desktop Computer Business Unit decided to wait before entering the market and approached the design department with the challenging question of how to have a maximum impact in a market that was well-saturated.

Looking into the past to design the future

One of the first things that HW Wei, Debbie Huang and I decided on, was to give S-presso a distinct visual appearance that would make it stand out from the rest of the market. While we considered following the minimal and geometric mainstream of the small form factor PC’s, we found that a more approachable form would appeal to the media enthusiasts and casual gamers we were targeting.

We opted for a shape that reminisced past products, and in the absence of a visually truly iconic classic PC, we looked at other product categories for direction: S-presso’s shape was inspired by mobile television sets of the 70’s.

Form and function

It was not only aesthetics that S-presso borrowed from its “ancestors”, but also a functional aspect that the competition lacked: S-presso’s handle turned out to be a much appreciated aspect of the product and also served as a means to easily open the chassis for quick access to its components.

Enabling new scenarios

Catered to media enthusiasts, the Asus S-presso featured a touch-sensitive front-panel that served as a main user interface for a built-in Linux quick boot OS. S-presso  could be used as a TV-tuner, video-player and music-player without booting into Windows, thus saving time and energy.

More than 400,000 S-pressos were sold between November 2004 and March 2007 and the product won the German Red Dot Award, the Taiwan Excellence Award and the Taiwan Good Design Award.