Hi-Grade mDMS P60 review
It’s hard to imagine a smaller PC than the Hi-Grade mDMS P60. Without its translucent plastic stand, it’s shorter than the bundled Media Center remote control and, if you’ve got space for the wires at the back, you could easily fit it vertically on a bookshelf.
The styling is rather dated – the dark-grey plastic makes it look like an external storage device from the mid-1990s – but we’re willing to forgive this in view of its tiny dimensions and the fact it’s all but silent. Both its size and quietness are largely due to its low-power components. The processor at its heart is an Intel Core Duo T2400 with a clock speed of 1.83GHz and a maximum power consumption of just 31W, while both the hard disk and slot-loading optical drive are low-power notebook components.
The T2400 CPU is backed by 1GB of RAM and returned a score of 0.93 from our benchmarks, meaning the mDMS P60 should stand up well to the intensive media-streaming tasks it will be capable of when Intel Media Server is released for the Viiv platform later this year. The hard disk has a capacity of 100GB, which might prove restrictive if you record and keep a lot of TV via the integrated TV tuner. However, the optical drive will write to all formats of DVD including dual-layer, so archiving TV programmes is relatively easy. The 802.11b/g WLAN card is a definite plus and, like the TV tuner, is a mini-PCI card. The exceptionally limited space inside the chassis makes it difficult to squeeze in components, but we were nevertheless disappointed to see just the one tuner, which limits you to watching what you’re recording, so you wouldn’t want to use the system as your primary TV.
The back of the machine is relatively sparse. All you’ll find is a pair of USB ports, DVI and S-Video outputs, ports for the modem and network card, plus 3.5mm speaker and mic jacks. The speaker socket doubles as an optical S/PDIF output, so you can use all six audio channels offered by the custom Intel 945GM-based motherboard. The front of the machine offers a few more options: a third USB port, a mini-FireWire port and a memory card reader.
The mDMS P60 comes with Sony’s 19in SMD-HS95PR TFT. Its size limits its appeal to smaller rooms, but we were happy to use it for both work and entertainment. Sony’s X-black reflective coating lends films and TV programmes improved contrast – at the expense of occasional reflections – and our only real gripe is that it isn’t a widescreen display.
The mDMS P60 is competitively priced, but as a media centre it can’t compete with the Elonex Artisan VX, which features twice the hard disk capacity and twin tuners. But the mDMS P60 isn’t without its charms. It’s several times smaller than the Artisan and, of course, comes with a monitor. The single TV tuner means the mDMS P60 isn’t the ideal media centre, but if you look at it as a tiny PC with Windows Media Center as an added extra it’s an excellently designed system.