At the rear you’ll find the power socket for the external 60W PSU, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI-I port, an S-Video port, a modem socket, an Ethernet port, an aerial connector for the TV tuner and finally headphone and microphone sockets.
The front of the box houses the loading slot for the DVD writer, another USB 2.0 port, a four-pin FireWire port and a memory card reader – the latter will accept SD, MMC and MemoryStick formats. Also at the front is the IR receiver for the Media Center remote control, so you don’t need to have an IR dongle for that 10ft experience.
Hi-Grade also throws in an infrared keyboard, complete with integrated trackball. Unfortunately the keyboard does require an external dongle and the fact that it’s infrared instead of RF means that it’s going to have to be on show. That said, I definitely prefer the trackball to the little joystick that’s integrated on the wireless keyboard that I use with my Media Center PC.
One of the really cool features that Viiv brings to the party is instant on/off. Put simply, you can power the machine off at the touch of the power button, while pressing it again will get the system back up in the blink of an eye. There are certain hardware specifications that have to be met for Viiv certification and the instant on/off ability is just one of them. A Viiv system also needs to have a dual core CPU and high-definition audio.
But Viiv isn’t just about core hardware and marketing, there’s also a host of Media Center content that’s enhanced with Viiv technology. Take the LOVEFiLM.com online spotlight service. LOVEFilm is primarily a DVD rental service, but Intel has teamed up with the company to allow Viiv users to download movies for viewing rather than having to wait for a DVD to come through the post. Obviously the range of movies available for download isn’t as wide as the DVD rental catalogue, but it’s a start and gives you an idea of what Viiv and Media Center can offer the consumer.