Shrinking economies, shrinking pay hikes, shrinking living spaces — itd almost seem like the world is on a shrink-and-spin cycle these days. About time then that the ubiquitous large and bulky beige box gets the shrink treatment as well, eh? Dells Studio Hybrid and the Eee Box from Asus have done just that — will one of these have what it takes to move your PC from under the study table to its pride of place in your living room? Lets find out.
The Hybrid in the Dell Studio series earns its Hybrid moniker from its energy-efficient and environment-friendly design. Achieved largely by using notebook-spec components — a notebook-class, 5,400-rpm hard drive and Intel Mobile 965 integrated graphics — the Hybrid consumes only one watt of power when off or in hibernate mode, and a maximum of 44W when the system is running at full utilisation.
Not only does it save the planet, the machines lack of additional bloatware (unnecessary programs that add bloat to Windows) also means your Windows keeps chugging along rather reasonably, in spite of the notebook components. The Core2 Duo processor, which can be configured upwards from the 2.0 GHz standard spec processor, just about manages to tame the beast that is Vista.
Despite the Studios size, it doesnt lack a complement of ports, with 5 USB ports, an 8-in-1 memory card reader and a slot-loading DVD drive (Blu-ray optional), and audio jacks, optical S/PDIF, four-pin FireWire, and an HDMI port, and a DVI port.
Phew! Quite something for something so small, and if you havent noticed already, quite stunning in the looks department. The included stand allows you to use the system vertically on your desk, or have the system lie horizontally.
Neat touch — the Hybrid name switches orientation when you turn the system on its side, engineered by a simple system of two different backlit logos. The looks allows the Studio to be the perfect candidate for a media-centre PC that fits just about any space (or lack of it, rather) — studio apartments, small dens, living rooms.
Specced up to a Blu-ray drive (careful, its pricey!), the only thing it lacks is a TV Tuner card, so youll have to lose a USB port to an external variant. The integrated graphics card means no heavy-duty gaming is possible on this baby, though.
Strangely enough, while the Eee Box might look similar in size to the Dell Hybrid, the last thing youd want to do is compare them. Beyond size and energy efficient design, theres almost nothing in common. The Eee Box has its roots firmly entrenched in the Eee PC family — hence the use of the 1.6GHz N270 Intel Atom processor used in most netbooks.
Think Eee PC, in a desktop setting — without those small, cramped keyboards and tiny screens. What you get is a tiny, basic Windows XP-based computer for Web browsing, word processing, and other general computing activities, nothing fancy, just something that works.
Add to that a gig of memory, four USB ports, an SD card slot, and wireless 802.11n, and its enough for the Eee Box to get the job done. Everyday tasks are comfortably achieved, and the Eee Box handled 480p, DVD-quality video rather easily. I also liked the inclusion of a wireless radio in the Eee Box.
Unfortunately, the Eee PC roots also drag this machine down. Honestly, even for a kitchen PC or media centre PC, the Eee Box doesnt make for a strong selling proposition. Sure, its got a neat space saving design, but if your goal is saving space, I personally think laptops, like the Eee PC, are far more flexible thanks to the portability and the inherent freedom from carrying around an extra mouse and keyboard. The Eee Box also lacks an optical drive, which may have been too much to ask for at its price, but is bare minimum for any desktop these days, in my opinion.
Pricewise too, the Hybrid and the Eee Box are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with the Dell Studio starting at Rs 39,900 (and configurations options that take it upwards of Rs 50,000) and the Eee Box, which can be had for as little as Rs 16,490. Theres still a wide-open gap in between for a reasonably priced, high performing small-form factor PCs, and itll be interesting to see where the market goes with this.
Dell Studio Hybrid
• Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5750 and Intel 965GM Chipset
• Operating system: Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
• Memory: 2GB Dual-channel 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
• Hard drive: 250GB 2 5400RPM SATA hard drive
• Monitor: Dell S1909WFP 19" widescreen flat panel monitor
• Communication: Gigabit LAN
• Graphics: Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
• Optical drive: 8X Max DVD+/-RW Drive with double layer write capability
• Accessories: Keyboard and mouse
• Media card reader: 8-in-1 memory card reader
• Rating: 8/10
• Price: Rs 39,900 (includes a monitor, excludes taxes and delivery charge)
• URL: http://www1.ap.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/
Asus Eee Box
• Operating system: Genuine Windows XP Home
• Intel CPU and Chipset: Intel Atom N270 & Intel chipset
• Communication: Gigabit LAN, 802.11 b/g/
• Memory: 1GB
• Storage: 80GB
• Storage cards: SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro
• Input / Output: DVI-Out / USB×4(2 in front, 2 in rear)
• Dimensions: 223×178×26 mm (without stand)
• Accessories: Keyboard and mouse
• Colours: White, Black
• Rating: 7/10
• Price: Rs 16,490/(excluding taxes)
• URL: http://in.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24&l2=165
Can your phone boast of 700 individual components, or a stainless steel housing, or for that matter, a front plate that takes a fortnight to create? If youre the sort who cares about that sort of minutiae, check out the gorgeous AURA. Not only is it the worlds first handset with a 16-million colour circular display, it also boasts a Swiss-made 62-carat sapphire crystal lens.
For $1,999, youll also get a 2-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, microUSB port, quad-band GSM connectivity, a microSD card slot, multimedia player and up to 7.3-hours of talk time. The things money can buy these days.
• URL: http://www.motorola.com/
• Price: $1,999
If youve been scouting for a record player with integrated vinyl-to-MP3 capabilities, youd have had to deal with largely second-rate brands, none of which possess the
prestige and sheer sound legacy associated with the Denon name. The Denon DP-200USB is your ticket to ripping vinyl straight to MP3, and you can even save the digital files to a USB drive thanks to the built-in USB socket. Your excuses have finally run out, folks — time to convert all those LPs, isnt it?
• URL: http://www.denon.com/
• Price: $300 approx.