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TriGem Kloss KL-I915A - TriGem Kloss KL-I915A
As I mentioned, TriGem ships a copy of PowerCinema 3 with the Kloss and you also get a remote control, It doesn’t, however, supply a TV tuner card but CyberLink has a list of supported TV tuner cards on its website so you can check which ones works before you purchase one.
The remote control is supplied with iMon from SoundGraph which allows you to customise the buttons on the remote and Kloss has pre-programmed all of the buttons on the remote to work with PowerCinema 3 as well as in Windows. This is actually one up on Windows Media Center Edition, as the remote control that comes with MCE PCs can’t be used instead of a mouse in Windows. I do however feel that Kloss should have skipped the chrome border on the remote, as this is pretty much guaranteed to wear of with time if you use the remote a lot. Since the remote is fairly square, it also feels wider in your hand than it actually is. The button layout is fairly clear, but personally I would have preferred slightly larger buttons as this would have made the labelling much clearer.
So far so good, but what about performance? Well, testing with a with a 3.6GHz Pentium 4 processor the Kloss did well in SYSmark 2004 with a score of 192 with the integrated graphics enabled. Fit a decent graphics card, in this case a GeForce 6800GT and the score jumped up to 205. The PCMark 2004 where similarly good, but the integrated graphics is a real letdown in terms of 3D performance as I mentioned in the beginning of the review. This meant that while there is little point in running 3D benchmarks on the Kloss with integrated graphics, it should perform very well if you install a decent graphics card.
I have to say that I’m impressed that a relatively unknown Korean company has come from pretty much nowhere and brought out a product that challenges the competition in a big way. The Kloss KL-I915A isn’t perfect, but for a first attempt it proves that a different approach from what everyone else is doing is not always a bad idea. With a few tweaks and possibly some reduction in size the Kloss brand might well take a large chunk of the SFF market. If I were working for Shuttle I would start to worry about the competition, as it is coming from more than one company right now.
There is however one issue that always comes up in every review and that is cost and at £269 including VAT the Kloss KL-I915A is quite pricey. As with all new computer technology you end up paying a price premium and certainly Socket-775 barebone systems are something of a rare breed right now. Perhaps TriGem is pushing it with its slogan for the Kloss – “Defining Convergence” – as it's not the first one to do what it does. However it does possess some features, such as the position of the motherboard, that make it unique. If you’re looking at getting a Shuttle box for a Socket-775 CPU you’d have to spend a similar amount of money for the cheapest Shuttle and about £50 more for the recommended Shuttle SB81P.
Despite the high price tag the Kloss KL-I915A is an interesting proposition from an unexpected source and it offers some unique design features and functions which might be enough to make it popular. It will certainly be interesting to see how it fares against the established SFF brands.