Mini Desktop PCs
Six compact computers for your consideration
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