If you want PC entertainment power in your living-room without having a huge clunking Media Center PC, or even a laptop, rush to audition the Packard Bell IMAX Mini 'nettop', a severely cut-down desktop PC using an Nvidia ION graphics solution.
Packard Bell's Imax Mini N3600 isn't the first of its kind – in fact this is basically a rebadging of Acer's Revo.
It's designed to be used in one of two ways – either standing or sitting on your desktop, or clamped to the back of a monitor using an optional extra mounting kit.
It ships with a wired mouse and compact keyboard (wireless models are optional). Connections include HDMI, USB and LAN, plus a front eSATA port for access to high capacity hard drives, or indeed an optical drive, which is the one thing the Imax Mini significantly lacks.
The highest spec'd model uses an Intel Atom 230 processor, 2GB of memory, a 160GB hard disk drive and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Variations are available in terms of hard-drive size, RAM size, and operating system (Windows XP or Windows Vista, with presumably Windows 7 to follow).
It runs extremely quietly, and when a decent codec pack (try the K-Lite Codec Pack which comes with Media Player Classic) is installed, can handle a wide variety of formats, including HD MKVs.
It can also be used as dedicated media PC, using XBMC, or a multifunction living room PC. The integrated HDMI output makes AV hookup a dream.
There's no built-in optical drive, but when used as a networked device this shouldn't be a problem. Also, out of the box, it stutters with HD files.
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