Shuttle X 5000TA
The touchscreen all-in-one your kitchen's been waiting for?
Review Although the Shuttle All-in-One PC X5000TA looks like a TFT display with a chunky bezel for the speakers, it's actually a proper PC that is controlled through its 15.6in touchscreen. It's housed in a relatively sleek chassis that measures 391mm wide by 327mm high and is only 36mm thick. The fold-out stand at the rear swings up to double as a carry handle so the 4kg weight - including the external power brick - isn’t much of an obstacle if you’re lugging the X5000TA from one room to another.
Shuttle's All-in-One PC X5000TA: touchscreen gimmick?
The machine is powered by an Intel Atom 330 dual-core processor and runs on an Intel 945G chipset with integrated GMA 950 graphics so it has the same features as most netbooks on the market. Other parts of the specification include a 2.5in 160GB Sata hard drive from WD and a single 1GB module of 667MHz DDR 2 memory from Transcend, though it runs at 400MHz. The Shuttle supports up to 2GB of Ram and there's a second memory slot available for expansion.
The most surprising part of the spec is the choice of operating system. Shuttle has installed Windows Vista Home Basic. It’s Vista Home Basic rather than Home Premium as the Intel graphics aren’t up to the job of running the Aero desktop but you have to wonder why Shuttle chose Vista instead of Windows XP or a version of Linux.
If you share our doubts about the advisability of using Vista on an Atom-based PC, you can hunt around for a Shuttle X50XA which has the same 1GB Ram and 160GB HDD as the X5000TA but comes without an OS at a price of £469 instead of £535 for the Vista version.
Quick-access UI... or Vista
Alternatively, you can buy an X5000T build-to-order with 1GB or 2GB of Ram and 160-500GB of hard drive storage. You don’t get much in the way of options as the CPU, chipset and graphics are soldered onto the motherboard and there's no room for an optical drive in the chassis, so the hard drive, RAM and Operating System are the limit of the choices on offer. In the event that you fancy a home brew, you might be able to lay your hands on the X50 barebones that is the basis of the X5000TA, X50XA and X5000T and choose your own Ram and hard drive, but we can’t think of a good reason for doing that.
Longer bars are better
Longer bars are better
Power Draw Results
Power Draw in Watts (W)
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.
You know the sort of thing: you look up a recipe on the BBC website and get busy making pesto and grilling aubergines while listening to the latest Arctic Monkeys album and, as you move around the kitchen, you keep tabs on your email and Twitter accounts.
The stand doubles-up as a carry handle
Even if that does happen to be your bag – it certainly isn’t ours – you’ll find it tricky to do so with such a poor screen and a system that suffers from the burden of Windows Vista. The idea of a smart, integrated all-in-one has a certain appeal but we found that it was essential to plug in a mouse and keyboard to drive Windows as the touchscreen is little more than a gimmick. It works but it isn’t good for much besides clicking on links in web pages and selecting bookmarks from your list of Favourites. There’s an on-screen keyboard tucked away in the Accessibility section of Windows' Start menu that you can use for simple tasks such as tapping in a URL but it’s a painfully slow process.
Jonathon Ive will not be losing sleep tonight
We may have given the impression that we don’t much like the Shuttle X5000TA but that’s not entirely true. It’s a smart PC that is very tidy and amazingly quiet in operation, no doubt thanks to the low power characteristics of Atom and the Intel 945G chipset. The problem is that you cannot use it on the move and neither can you use it to watch movies and while that doesn’t quite make it useless we fail to see why anyone would spend £535 on a the X5000TA when they could buy a perfectly decent laptop instead.
The Shuttle X5000TA reminds us of the Starck-designed Alessi juicer. The Shuttle's not a design classic, but like the juicer it doesn’t work very well in the real world. And it’s too expensive. ®
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