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Elonex has been a little quiet in the consumer market recently but all that is about to change with the release of the eXentia.

The eXentia will be Elonex’s top of the range Media Center solution and if I said that this machine was special, it would be an understatement of epic proportions. Over the next few months we’re likely to see dozens of machines running Microsoft’s new Windows XP Media Center Edition. They will no doubt come in all shapes and sizes and will be aimed at grabbing as big a piece of the market as possible.

However, at this moment in time, I have to say that the Elonex eXentia is the definitive example of a Media Center PC.

So what makes the Elonex eXentia such a great machine? Well, several things really, but let’s start with the most obvious, aesthetics. Put simply, the eXentia is a stunning piece of kit. The design is cutting edge enough to make it look fresh, but derivative enough to not look out of place in a modern living room. In fact, most people that I showed the eXentia to assumed that it was just a flat panel TV, but they were subsequently bowled over when I told them that there was a complete PC inside the slim chassis.

Of course there are bound to be some consumers out there that won’t warm to the rounded, almost organic lines of the eXentia, but let’s remember that this is a first generation product, so the evolution prospect are looking rosy to say the least.

But the impressive design isn’t just skin deep, it’s what’s underneath that counts. Inside the eXentia you’ll find a high-performance PC with little in the way of the specification compromises seen in similar all-in-one products. The chassis has been designed to accept a 3GHz + Pentium 4 chip, so there shouldn’t be any problems squeezing in any next generation Intel CPUs for future models.

The motherboard can utilise the integrated 865-G graphics chipset, but the eXentia also sports a custom AGP slot. There are of course limitations to this AGP solution, but it’s still a big improvement on being stuck with integrated graphics. The pre-production eXentia I looked at had a custom ATi Radeon 9200 solution in the AGP slot.

For storage the eXentia uses a full-size desktop hard disk, so capacity isn’t really an issue. What is an issue however is acoustic level and the components that reside inside the eXentia all have to be low noise units in order to keep the overall acoustic levels down. Likewise, the optical drives specified for the eXentia are also chosen with low noise emissions in mind.

Adding to the comprehensive and cutting edge design of the eXentia, the optical drive is fully featured. As well as playing DVDs and CDs, it can write DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW and of course CD-R/RW. That’s a pretty impressive array of features for what is, essentially a notebook optical drive.

The most difficult balancing act with a machine like this is keeping the noise level down while also keeping the system internals cool. The two internal 80mm fans will spin at a maximum of 2,700rpm under load, while the heatsinks on the CPU and graphics solution are passive. The CPU heatsink assembly is copper finned for maximum heat dissipation, while various heat-pipe and chimney mechanisms ensure that hot air is expelled efficiently. Even the internal power supply has no fan, instead using its own chimney design with low intake and high exhaust positioned in the vertical base support.

There’s even a Mini-PCI module on the board that will accept an 802.11b/g adapter or an 802.11b/Bluetooth adapter. So you can have the eXentia connected to your home network wirelessly, not to mention to your broadband connection wherever it may be located in your house

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