On the back of the device, things look really neat. No blanking plates – this is custom designed from the beginning.
Four USB 2.0 ports, plus the one on the front means plenty of connectivity, as well as the six-pin FireWire. However, there are no PS/2 or parallel ports, so take into account that you will need these USB ports for your keyboard, mouse and printer.
There are three analogue connectors for the sound, but should you need more than 5.1 output, there is optical output, for the full 7.1-channels. Gigabit Ethernet ensures high speed connectivity to your LAN.
Aside from the S-Video output, there is only one dual-link DVI port. This is a real limitation, as more and more people are using dual displays. Although you could use a Matrox DualHead2Go, but this will add to the cost of the machine considerably.
Inside, things are neatly packed, resembling a notebook rather than a desktop PC. The memory is in SODIMM format, in this case two 256MB modules, which is less than I’d like to see. The graphics chip is an ATI X1400, which is a low range graphics card that will suffice for casual gaming. This is actually an MXM module, which is an expansion method often employed by notebooks.
Continuing with the notebook theme, the processor is Socket 479, so can accept a Core Duo (Yonah) or Core 2 Duo (Merom). Our particular unit came with a Core Duo running at 1.6GHz. We’d sooner see a Core 2 Duo inside, but remember, these systems are fully configurable!
From a technology stand point, this is a notebook in a box, without a screen, keyboard or mouse. This brings with it the benefit of making it very small and incredibly quiet, but has the downside of little or no expansion. There are no PCI or PCI Express slots, or even PC Card. There is a single Mini PCI slot, which in our machine was taken up by a Wireless card.
Lack of expansion is not such a big issue, as so much stuff is now available through either USB 2.0 or FireWire.