In essence, the X5000TA is an Atom netbook that relies on an external 65W power supply and that feeling is reinforced when you look at its features list. In addition to Gigabit Ethernet, you get 802.11n along with an array of ports and connectors arranged on either side of the screen. There are two USB ports on the left side and three on the right, along with triple audio jacks and an four-in-one memory card reader, but you have to lean around the side of the screen to see the ports as they're tucked away behind the bezel.
Plenty of ports...
On the back of the panel next to the stand there is a VGA port. We’re not sure how many people would be interested in connecting the Shuttle to another analogue display as the screen is a decent size and the Intel graphics preclude any idea of home cinema duties. Although we were able to watch 720p HD movie clips on Apple’s QuickTime website we found that playback stuttered quite noticeably as both the CPU and the chipset were out of their technical depth.
There’s another laptop/netbook feature at the top of the screen in the shape of a 1.3Mp webcam but the main focus of the Shuttle is the screen as it dominates the X5000TA both in terms of style and also in function.
The resolution is 1366 x 768 so you can fit 720p HD content from either the net or a USB drive. As previously mentioned playback quality is poor as the Intel GMA950 graphics are feeble and the Atom doesn’t have the necessary grunt to pick up the slack.
...on both sides
Added to that, the quality of the displayed image isn’t the greatest we've seen. It's grainy and suffers from washed out colours and whites. That’s not the end of it, as the viewing angle is very tight, possibly thanks to the inclusion of touchscreen technology so you want to sit directly in front of the display to make the best of things. That’s not so bad if you’re sat at a desk but we envisage the X5000TA will be used in locations such as the kitchen as part of the busy digital life that we all apparently lead these days.
Why not XP?
Just a thought, but I think the only version of XP that would support a touchscreen is Tablet Edition? Since MS are getting restrictive as to what you can now pre-install XP on, it may be that Shuttle are only able to sell it with Vista?
Prolly do quite nicely for a project we have putting touchscreen kiosks into museums.
Our Kitchen PC
I've set-up a PC in the Kitchen, for the wife & it's an HP 24" 'TouchSmart'. It, too, comes with Vista - but HP indicates that the touchscreen interface will NOT work, if you switch it to XP Pro (like the rest of my mini-network). I certainly don't know for a fact what the technical reasons could be for being forced to use Vista (Home Premium) on this system - but whatever those reasons may be; might also be the same reasons the Shuttle X5000 'All-in-One' is also saddled with Vista. And Yes, it _IS_ in the Kitchen, so she can stream TV, listen to music, google a recipe & check her email. Her PC in her 'Unicorn' room (Hey... she Loves Dragons & Unicorns - what can I say?) is too removed from the Kitchen to be useful for this type of use. Just an 'FYI'. -Tony T.