Another great feature is the Gyration keyboard and mouse set. The keyboard is just a reduced size wireless affair, although the action is still good enough to achieve a decent typing rate. However, the mouse is a gyroscopic device which means that it can be used in the hand, without the need for a surface. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to navigate menus from the comfort of your sofa. If you prefer using a mouse on a desk or table top, you can do this too, since it has an optical sensor at the bottom. There’s also a rechargeable docking cradle for the mouse, so you’ll never pick it up and find the batteries dead.
Finally, there’s a an ATI Remote Wonder RF remote control thrown into the bundle. So, if you really can’t get to grips with the Gyration mouse, you can use a far more familiar remote control to navigate the Medio.
But a machine like the Medio isn’t about the components inside it, it’s about the user environment. For any media PC the interface has to be simple and effective. Moore Innovations has chosen ShowShifter as the media environment for the Medio, and on paper it does pretty much everything you’d want a media package to do. However, in practice, things didn’t turn out as simple and intuitive as I’d hoped they would.
Like most media environments, ShowShifter is broken up into different categories like TV, DVD, music etc. When running ShowShifter for the first time, I needed to initialise the TV tuner and search for all the channels. This took quite a while, but no longer than it would on any other machine with a digital TV tuner in it. When the auto-scan had finished it listed all the channels that it had found, and while I was switching between the channels to see what they were ShowShifter crashed. No problem I though, I’ll just start it up again. But when I did restart ShowShifter, it prompted me run the auto-scan for the TV tuner again – it hadn’t saved the channel listings! So, I ran the scan again and after waiting for it to track down all the channels once more, I was presented with the list. I thought I’d have a quick look at BBC News 24 before carrying on with the review, and bang, ShowShifter crashed again. I was almost too scared to start it again for fear of all the channels being lost once more, and sure enough, when I fired up ShowShifter, it had no TV channel listings. This time, as soon as the auto-scan was finished I jumped to the next step of the setup without trying to change channel – thankfully this time it managed to save all the channels and didn’t crash.
Next I decided to play a DVD on the Medio, so sticking Kill Bill Volume 1 in the Lite-On drive I launched the DVD player. Unfortunately there was no 5.1-channel sound on offer, and only a PCM stereo stream was being output. After looking around the Creative Sound Blaster settings, I discovered that the S/PDIF output had not been configured – I addressed this issue and launched ShowShifter once more and fired up the DVD – still no 5.1-channel sound. I then closed ShowShifter and played the DVD using Cyberlink PowerDVD which had also been installed – I was instantly greeted with full 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio. After speaking to Moore Innovations about this problem I was told that a system registry entry had to be altered to allow 5.1-channel sound using ShowShifter, since it employed an nVidia codec that required the change. It also meant that if you wanted to switch back to stereo sound you needed to change the registry again. I pointed out that this was a rather convoluted method of obtaining the correct sound, and I was assured that a future version of ShowShifter will have an option to switch between stereo and multi-channel sound – it will basically do the registry changes in the background.