Next to the graphics card is an AverMedia M150 TV tuner card. Unfortunately, it’s analogue which has to be said is a big disappointment. We’re in a digital age and as almost everybody with an aerial can pick up a digital signal it’s a real shame not to have one supplied. In the UK, it limits your choice of content to the five terrestrial channels and a soft picture that isn’t in widescreen. Those in Europe will want to replace the analogue tuner with a digital one or use an external receiver. The omission is a great shame as the downloadable EPG is great and provides more information on screen at once than Sky’s. Pleasingly the machine can wake up for a recording from standby mode, so you don’t have to leave it whirring away the whole time.
The whole kit and caboodle is controlled by the standard MCE 2005 remote control, which actually is pretty good. It’s backlit and the buttons have a good feel, though some of them are oddly placed and sized. Unfortunately, unlike the Wi-Fi, the remote receiver isn’t integrated and is instead a large block that connects to the PC via USB. Shuttle also doesn’t include a keyboard or a mouse. When it comes down to it this is a PC, not an appliance, and you really will have to attach them at least occasionally. A Shuttle optimised device, perhaps with controllers built into the keyboard and designed to match the case should in my oopinion be high up on Shuttle’s internal ‘to-do’ list.
Overall though the Shuttle G5 8300M was a pleasure to use though it wasn’t completely without problems. On one particularly hot day, the machine actually locked-up, and on another occasion Windows crashed with an error message. However aside from this, over a period of a couple of weeks of regular use, it proved to be reliable, recording programmes as scheduled, playing vidoes and slideshows.
If you want a Shuttle based Media Center 2005 machine but don’t want the hassle of building one yourself the Shuttle G5 8300M is a very good starting point, being pleassingly designed, well featured and speedy in use. However, the lack of passive cooling on the graphics card is something of a mystery and you have to supply your own keyboard and mouse but the real downside is the lack of digital tuner and it’s that, that prevents the system from picking up an award. These points aside, the Shuttle G5 8300M is a really very good indeed.
Score in detail