- Review Price: £2000.00
It seems like the media PC concept is definitely evolving, with many companies bringing out new and innovative designs to convince us that having a PC in our living room is a smart move. And it’s the design of these units that’s the key to their success to a large degree, after all, no one wants a big beige box sitting in their living room next to their stylish widescreen TV.
It’s clear that Moore Innovations has spent a lot of time and effort trying to get the design of the Medio just right, and I have to say that the final result is pretty impressive. I am however not 100 per cent won over by the design, mainly due to the fact that the device is just too big. The Medio is based on a Micro ATX motherboard, and uses the expansion slots in a standard fashion, unlike the Hush ATX machine that I looked at a little while ago. Hush used a riser card design, which meant that the graphics card and a PCI card connected horizontally rather than vertically – the upshot of this design is that the height of the unit was kept to a minimum, making it far more décor friendly next to your Hi-Fi and home cinema equipment.
OK, excessive height aside, the Medio looks quite stylish, finished in silver and grey, with a single round power button at the front. Of course next to the power button is a light that glows blue when the unit is on, after all, you can’t have a technology device these days without a blue light on it. The front fascia is constructed from a solid billet of aluminum that’s 8mm thick, which adds to the Medio’s hefty weight and reassuringly sturdy feel. The grey fascia is offset by a sliver of silver that marks the front of the DVD drive drawer. Moore Innovations has chosen a Lite-On 851S which is an eight-speed DVD writer, and although it doesn’t officially support dual layer writing, a quick firmware upgrade should solve this issue.
There are horizontal fins running along both sides of the case to aid head dissipation, and both the 160GB Samsung SATA hard disks are mounted against the sides of the case so that heat is drawn away from them quickly and efficiently. The inside of the case is shrouded in accoustic padding to reduce noise pollution. This wasn’t necessary in the Hush machine, since it was a completely passive solution, but the Medio still employs fans, albeit low noise variants. Sitting on top of the CPU is the same Zalman cooler that we used in our Silent Solution feature about reducing noise pollution from your PC, so there’s no objection there. The power supply is also a small low noise unit, that barely whispers in operation.
Filling the AGP slot is a Sapphire Radeon 9600 Ultimate, which is passively cooled via large heatsinks and heatpipes, making it a totally quiet graphics solution. Three of the PCI slots are also occupied with a digital TV tuner, a Netgear WiFi adapter and a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 sound card.
The digital TV tuner is good to see and means that you can watch all the Freeview digital channels as well as the standard five terrestrial ones. Reception proved to be very good, even in problem areas like the TrustedReviews offices in Bracknell. The Netgear WiFi card is also a very welcome inclusion, since it’s vitally important for a media PC to have a wireless connection. Let’s face it, you’re not likely to have your broadband connection in your living room, so you need to be able to connect somehow, especially if you want to download EPG data.
But it’s the Sound Blaster card that’s probably the most important to Moore Innovations. The company is pushing the Medio as a high-end media PC, and therefore needs the audio output to be just as impressive as stand alone AV equipment. There’s no doubt that a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 card gives you a significant aural improvement over the integrated sound you’re likely to find on a motherboard – I’m sitting here listening to Music of the Spheres by Ian Brown as I type this and I must say that the sound quality is most impressive. Of course the quality of the sound output is helped by the fact that Moore Innovations also supplied me with a set of Accoustic Energy ego speakers, which are definitely the best multi-channel PC speakers I’ve heard. The external processor will decode both Dolby Digital and DTS streams through either optical or coaxial digital connections. You also get a high-quality coaxial digital cable in the box, to connect the Medio up to the speakers or your own processor/amp setup. Unfortunately, the speakers don’t come with the Medio and represent a costly optional extra.