Elonex Lumina review

Price when reviewed

No stranger to innovation, Elonex wowed us with the original Lumina, which integrated a fully featured Pentium 4 PC into a stunning 32in TFT. As if that wasn’t enough, here’s the 40in version.

Elonex Lumina review

Much is inherited from its smaller sibling: the Intel 865 chipset motherboard is proven technology and the 3GHz Pentium 4 a sensible balance between performance, cooling and price. The new additions are aimed at making this an even more capable media system: the 1GB of faster PC3200 RAM will keep things more responsive by reducing page file usage, and you’ll now find a hybrid dual-tuner TV card inside. This functions as a dual analog tuner or analog plus digital, providing Freeview channels, as well as being capable of linking to satellite boxes. And there’s a further analog tuner inside the panel so you don’t need to switch the PC on to watch TV.

There’s now a cavernous 400GB hard disk tucked away inside, so you can have a vast music library, as well as store several entire TV series before even having to think about clearing space. When that moment comes, the slot-loading DVD writer tucked around the right-hand side can handle DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM, although not, unfortunately, dual-layer discs.

The right-hand side also houses an 8-in-2 media card reader and a single USB 2 and FireWire port, as well as 3.5mm headphone and mic inputs. You’ll find a further four USB 2 ports hidden in a recess round the back.

Given the integrated nature of the system, there’s a good provision of AV I/O. There’s composite video input and, more significantly, S-Video in and out. 6.1 audio outputs are offered on 3.5mm jacks round the back, but you’ll also find more robust RCA connections for stereo input and output. There’s also optical S/PDIF out.

The panel itself is little short of excellent: fantastic brightness, decent contrast, barely a whiff of motion lag, and viewing angles that go beyond any practical need. There’s a separate remote should you need access to the settings, but for the most part, the supplied MCE one is all you’ll need. In another nice touch, the panel and PC have separate power switches.

It all adds up to a superb experience. Using Media Center is an absolute joy on a system like this, and it’s easy to forget that under all that swish animation is a fully formed Windows XP system. The processor may not be cutting edge, but it’s still fast enough for most tasks, propelling our application benchmarks to 1.61.

ATi’s 128MB Radeon 9600 chipset remains on 3D duty. Although distinctly underpowered by today’s standards, we coaxed 21fps from it in Far Cry at 1,024 x 768 with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering, and a just-about playable 24fps in Half-Life 2 at the same settings.

The system isn’t perfect: the remote-control reception was occasionally patchy, and we’d also prefer dual digital tuners (available towards the end of July). Dual-layer DVD-writing support would also be the icing on the cake. Getting into the case will invalidate the warranty, but, aside from the lack of PCI Express, there’s no reason why you can’t upgrade the components at some point. Suffice to say, this is an absurdly desirable piece of kit.

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