When you’ve been a technology journalist as long as I have, you don’t come across something genuinly innovative very often, but Lightscribe is just that and I can see it becoming a standard feature on all drives very soon. Obviously you’re going to pay a price premium for Lightscribe media, at least for the time being, but that should erode over time. Of more concern right now is finding media at all, but luckily Verbatim managed to supply me with some early samples for this review.
But HP hasn’t just concentrated on the hardware, you also get a pretty generous software bundle. For office productivity, you get a copy of Microsoft Works Suite 2005, which includes Word. There’s also AutoRoute 2005, Encarta Standard 2005, Money Standard 2005 and Picture It!. You also get Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Personal Firewall, although both only have 60 day Live Update licences.
Using Media Center 2005 is just as slick and smooth as always, although HP has actually customised the Media Center menu. As well as all the usual selections under the Media Center menu, you’ll also find HP Image Zone and HP Tunes. It’s a bit odd though, since both these functions are already available in Media Center. That said, HP Tunes integrates with iTunes, which indicates HP’s strengthening relationship with Apple.
Thankfully, HP has chosen not to go with the standard Media Center remote control, and instead has supplied a far more sleek and stylish black unit. On the down side, despite the large system case, HP hasn’t integrated the infrared receiver, so you end up with the receiver hanging off one of the USB ports and generally spoiling the look of the system.
HP has created a strange Media Center solution in the m1260.uk, but that’s not to say that it isn’t without merit. As already mentioned I like to see Media Center systems in slim and stylish cases, that fit in with your living room décor, but this is a different type of Media Center machine. This is more of a Media Center system for creation, rather than playback and it’s likely to double up as the main workhorse PC as well. Yes, HP has made a few major compromises, and there are one or two features that I would definitely change given the choice, but at £999 including VAT, you’re getting a lot for your money.
The Photosmart m1260.uk isn’t a conventional Media Center PC, but it is an interesting and attractive product. Features like the Personal Media Drive and Lightscribe DVD writer give this machine an edge over the competition. The lack of DVI on the graphics card and external infrared receiver are both disappointments, but the low price point helps make up for these. If you’re looking for a workhorse PC that also features all the bells and whistles of Media Center, the m1260.uk is definitely worth a look.
Score in detail