Group Test While Microsoft and Intel both spent many years trying to persuade us we needed big, bulky media centre PCs underneath our TVs, space considerations and a lack of downloadable content meant that most folk were more than happy to make do with a DVD player.
The explosion in online content - particularly video material - means that view has changed, and punters are now considering connecting a PC to their TV in order to use it as a conduit to the likes of YouTube, Picassa, iTunes, BBC iPlayer and so on.
Can you really get a PC into there? Yes, you can
But we still don't want it to be big. Large beige towers may be a thing of the past, but you still don't want a noisy deskside tower or bulked up desktop machine alongside your nice new flat panel.
The modern laptop is a marvellous device, but it's not really a machine you want to leave connected to a TV or TFT all the time.
Enter, then, the mini desktop PC, a category that emerged as a low-power option for buyers on tight budgets or short on desk space, but has come into its own as the basis for not only media centres but also web-centric machines.
Under review this time are:
- Acer Aspire X5900
- Dell Inspiron Zino HD
- Fujitsu Esprimo Q9000
- Peak Cape 7 Ion
- Shuttle XPC SG41J1
- Viewsonic PC Mini 132
In the pages that follow, you'll also find Reg Hardware's Buyer's Guide, which will take you through the key factors to consider when choosing a mini PC.
Unfortunately, while it was hoped that the group test would also include a number of nettops based on Nvidia's second-generation Ion platform, no manufacturer was able to lend one in time to include. However, Reg Hardware will be looking at a selection of Ion 2-based machines in due course.
Next: Mini PCs Buyer's Guide
Mini Desktop PCs Group Test