To the left of the display is the eject button for the DVD drive, and although this is labelled DVD-ROM and CD-RW, it is actually a DVD writer that can burn DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW and DVD+R dual layer. At the far left is the power button, which sports, yep, you guessed it, a blue light.
There’s a fold-down flap that runs along the length of the front fascia, and under here you’ll find a plethora of connection options. At the far left is a 7-in-1 card reader that accepts CompactFlash Type I and II, SmartMedia, MMC, SD, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro. Next along you’ll find S-Video and composite video inputs, along with left and right analogue audio inputs. You’ll also find full size headphone and microphone sockets, two USB 2.0 ports and a four-pin FireWire port. Finally there’s a four-way navigation pad with an “OK” button in the centre, along with Home and Back buttons – presumably in case the batteries run out in the remote.
The rear is even more feature packed than the front. At the far left are the twin analogue TV tuners. Thoughtfully there’s only a single aerial socket to service both tuners and you also get two sets of S-Video, composite video and analogue audio inputs. There’s also a connection for the FM tuner.
Next along you’ll find inputs for analogue D-SUB, DVI and S-Video. It’s clear that this machine is aimed at those with a decent LCD or Plasma screen that can handle a proper high resolution input, and I’m not against that approach. With HD broadcast content just around the corner, we should all be thinking about upgrading our TVs.
Below the main input connectors there are two six-pin FireWire ports, a modem socket, another D-SUB port, an Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 ports. Sound outputs are more than well catered for with both optical and coaxial S/PDIF ports along with 7.1-channel analogue audio outputs.
In use the DMS II manages to pull off most of the tricks that you’d want from a Media Center PC – it’s reasonably slim, pretty quiet and can handle pretty much every living room task you’re likely to throw at it. Media Center 2005 is, as always, a joy to use and even a novice user will be getting to grips with all their digital content, as well as online streamed content in no time at all.