- Review Price: £999.00
When PCs based on Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) were first introduced many companies were, quite rightly, criticised for building systems that had nothing to really differentiate them as media PCs save for the interface and the presence of a TV Tuner card. So why is this conventianal looking Evesham MCE 2005 system actually quite a good idea?
As a tower case the Evesham isn’t the sort of system you’re likely to want to have sitting under the TV in your living room. But it is a compact box and for anyone who might want one box to act as an all purpose PC and a media system and is short on space, say students or those in a small home office, it should be just the ticket. After all it’s capable of recording TV, playing slide shows, and watching DVDs all of which is controllable from the comfort of a sofa or bed (not supplied). Of course if you do a lot of that you’ll probably want to attach it to something bigger than the supplied 17in TFT screen, but before I left home many moons ago I had a 17in CRT TV at the bottom of my bed and at the time it seemed like a home cinema.
So with the case for the existence of the Evesham established we can move on to the take a closer look at the system itself. Style wise the external appearance is arguably a tad dated – it’s two-tone black and silver isn’t particularly stylish but neither is it offensive and it is a good match with the supplied Viewsonic TFT. A flap at the bottom drops down to reveal two easily accessible USB 2.0 ports, a full-size Firewire port and headphone and microphone sockets.
Opening up the case I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the tidiest interiors I’ve seen for a long time, with all extraneous cables tied back out of the way or neatly strapped down. Having just built myself a new system, my respect for the ability to keep the inside of a PC tidy has been refreshed, so full marks to Evesham for this. The side panel has both a circular grille and a honeycomb area to improve ventilation inside the case. The reason for this is that, PSU aside, there’s actually only one fan in the whole system. This is on the CPU heatsink; an Akasa unit that barely makes a sound. As our labs are quite noisy I took the machine home to give it a proper test and placed it in my lounge. It proved to be exceptionally quite, so much so that I had to check if I’d actualy turned it on. One issue though was that Evesham had only installed the display driver and not the ATI control centre. When I plugged it in via S-Video to my CRT TV, the image was badly distorted. I installed the latest driver myself and found that once I’d told the driver to output PAL, the image problem was fully resolved.