Advent T1 review
Although we’ve seen all-in-one PCs before, this is the first time they’ve been pushed through a large retailer such as PC World. And with the buzz surrounding Apple’s recent integrated G5, the timing couldn’t be better.
Given the limited space, the first surprise is the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 540 processor, powering the T1 to an ample 2D score of 1.55 overall. We’ve become accustomed to gargantuan heatsinks and noisy fans, but Advent makes do with two 45mm fans and a bit of cunning. The fans suck air in through two rear grilles, and over a corrugated copper heatsink – surprisingly efficient and quiet.
Getting inside won’t be a regular event, with nine screws in your way and limited upgrade options on the other side. There are no PCI slots but, if you’re prepared to dump the existing 512MB of PC3200 RAM split across the DDR sockets, a memory upgrade is feasible. You’ll also find a 250GB standard Ultra ATA desktop hard disk taking up the only drive bay, with a Serial ATA socket on hand should the need arise.
You’ll need the capacity if you want to record from the external TV tuner, which integrates with the bundled PowerCinema software to provide a good-looking media front end. Thankfully, there’s also a nifty slot-loading DVD writer capable of writing to DVD-RAM (the best choice for TV recording), as well as DVD-R/W and DVD+R/W, but unfortunately not dual layer.
It’s not the only compromise either – the T1 uses Intel’s distinctly humble 865 integrated 3D chip, meaning we left our 3D benchmarks on the shelf.
There’s consolation in the 17in TFT though. Running at a resolution of 1,280 x 768 it has less Desktop space than a standard 17in widescreen panel, but it’s good quality and keeps things visible from sofa distance. It sailed through our technical tests, with no banding on colour ramps, and a decent colour range leading to a pleasing depth on DVD movies. Viewing angles are excellent too. The screen has a reflective surface, which can be distracting in direct light but is a largely attractive addition. We noticed a touch of motion lag due to the panel’s 25ms response time though, and also note the lack of D-SUB or DVI outputs for connecting another monitor.
The integrated speakers are tinny – acceptable for TV, but lacking the punch to do music justice. The integrated Realtek audio chip doesn’t offer the advanced features of a dedicated card, but there’s support for six-channel audio, as well an optical S/PDIF output.
In terms of expansion you’ll find FireWire and three USB 2 ports, as well as 10/100 Ethernet and a 56K modem. A hidden side panel contains mini-FireWire, another pair of USB ports and two media card slots. There’s also an integrated 802.11g WLAN card, a webcam mounted on the top, and an integrated infrared receiver for the remote control. A wireless mouse and keyboard are also solid inclusions for sofa surfing.
The 17in screen is a touch small for a main television though, and we’d also far prefer to see the more comprehensive Windows Media Center Edition 2005 as a media front end: PowerCinema is good in its own right, but Microsoft’s new operating system is much more in keeping with the T1’s living-room aims. This PC isn’t cheap either, especially when you consider the one-year on-site warranty – two years would be more reassuring considering the non-user-serviceable chassis.
But the T1 looks fantastic, performs well and offers a great deal of convenience. After all, its combination of a miniscule 36cm2 footprint and neat, attractive styling mean the T1 will fit in just about anywhere. Yes, it’s difficult to recommend it outright when you can buy JAL’s Daphne for nearly £400 less, but if you want a portable and tidy system, the T1 is the best we’ve yet seen.