Hi-Grade DMS 3000 review

£999
Price when reviewed

The DMS 3000 is the only machine here that we saw in our Lifestyle PCs Labs. It holds an advantage over everything else on test in that it has two scart sockets on the rear – for input and output. Also, you won’t find serial, parallel or PS/2 ports as with most of the systems here. You can tell by the lengthy and helpful setup guide that this is an out-and-out Media Center PC, intended for minimal ‘PC’ usage.

Thanks to the slim design, the unit will fit nicely into most hi-fi racks, and it provides almost all the connections that AV buffs look for. There are inputs and outputs for S-Video, composite video, RCA audio as well as optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs. Wired Ethernet and RJ-11 modem sockets are also present, but a bonus is the 802.11g wireless PCI card, which helps minimise wires. Missing is a DVI output – a hassle for those with DVI-only displays, which includes some LCD TVs.

Infrared receivers are integrated for the remote control and keyboard/mouse combination. This is great, but as we grumbled before, the latter simply doesn’t work well at any great distance, so like us, you’ll probably resort to a more traditional RF wireless set – potentially using both of the rear USB ports.

Inside is a 3GHz Pentium 4 and 512MB of PC3200 RAM. A 200GB Seagate 7200.7 hard disk will cope with plenty of TV recordings from the ATi eHome Wonder TV card. Digital and dual-digital options should be available by the time you read this.

Burning programmes off to DVD is possible thanks to the slimline Panasonic DVD writer, but it doesn’t support DVD+R/RW and is the slowest on test. There’s no card reader either, although the front panel does feature USB, FireWire, microphone and headphone ports.

A GeForce FX 5200 AGP card provides a bare minimum of 3D performance, as the benchmark result of 15fps in Unreal Tournament 2004 proves. This is no problem, since gaming is a minor aspect of any Media Center PC. The noise output, however, was slightly disappointing considering the rest of the design is excellent. Although the figures we recorded show 32.4dB(A) at idle from the front, the fan noise is easily audible during quiet moments in TV shows and can be a little distracting.

The two-year, collect-and-return warranty is a little short for this price, but the main problem is that the Elonex Artisan is a significantly quieter, and better-equipped machine. And it costs £149 less.

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