Review Last month I took a look at a complete Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005 system from small form-factor king Shuttle and was generally impressed. Now system integrator Scan has created its own Media Center system, the CUBIT 5, using the guts of Shuttle's SFF MCE system but employing a housing from Hoojum, writes Benny Har-Even.
Scan is noted for its systems sporting cases designed to make the beige box a distant memory and its Hoojum range will certainly do that. The case is a very solid block of aluminium with an entirely mirrored surface, much like the back of an iPod. The front panel is of particular note with a sliver at the top for the notebook-sized Panasonic UJ-845-BPN, which can burn dual-layer DVDs at 2.4x speeds. There are multiple memory card slots at the bottom. Above these are two USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin Firewire port, and headphone and microphone sockets. The distinctive features, though, are the slots that run down either side, providing extra cooling. On the left is an infra-red panel, though this didn't seem to serve any function as the media center remote is an external USB box, as it was with the Shuttle.
The unit it's certainly something of a design statement, but to my eyes that statement is primarily 'toaster'. It's undoubtedly a stunning object, but I'd like to have a great looking piece of AV hardware in my lounge, not a fantastic-looking kitchen appliance. Fortunately, Scan offers the Hoojum in other colours, namely black, white, blue, peach and red, so there's really something for everyone. The other colours are also significantly cheaper than the chrome finish. If you go for black, then you'll save a whopping £120. This drops to £115 less if you go for white and it will be £105 less expensive with any of the other shades.
As a media PC, the CUBIT 5 has many talents, even if one of them isn't producing perfectly done cooked-bread products. The CPU supplied is a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 with 1MB of cache on an 800MHz frontside bus. This ensures that the system will be very capable of handling high definition video material smoothly. The processor is ably assisted by 1GB of Corsair RAM on two 512MB modules, ensuing dual-channel operation on the 915G chipset.