Shuttle XS35 review
The Shuttle XS35 is available as a barebone PC, sans operating system, though the vendor will include Windows 7 Home Premium for an additional £70. If you’re happy to install and use a Linux-based, open-source operating system like Ubuntu, this could be a good way to cut costs, though that will depend on what your school’s IT vision might be.
The Shuttle is about the size and weight of a large paperback book, and with a width of just 38mm, it takes up very little desk space. The XS35 uses a fanless cooling system, which is why the chassis looks as if it’s been shot through with a machine gun – there are numerous air holes. The advantage of this system is that the XS35 runs almost silently, but the downside is that, in order to ensure good airflow, it should only be used with the supplied vertical stand or an optional VESA mount.
The front panel includes a 4-in-1 card reader, which covers all the major standards of memory card. However, the single front mounted USB 2 port is a bit of a disappointment – we would have liked at least two – and the optical disc drive is oddly aligned. If the PC is positioned for right-handed operation, the card reader and USB port are easily to hand, but the drive tray will be facing the wrong way – you’ll have to reach around the tray to insert or remove a disc.
The XS35 comes with a 500GB hard disk drive and the optical drive can be replaced with a second 2.5-inch hard drive if you‘d prefer. The back of the Shuttle XS35 has a good sprinkling of ports, namely, four USB 2, Ethernet, VGA and HDMI. There’s also a Kensington lock slot, as well as headphone and microphone jacks. Again, we’d prefer to see these on the front panel so that students don’t have to fuss around at the back.
The presence of an HDMI port tells you that the XS35 is designed for HD video, and under the bonnet are a 1.66GHz Intel Atom D510 processor, 2GB of memory and Nvidia ION graphics. With a PC Pro benchmark score of 0.21, the Shuttle XS35 is fine for most classroom IT activities and will even run HD video, though it will struggle if you try to open too many applications at once.
All-in-all, the Shuttle XS35 is compact, quiet and offers a fair performance for the price. It’s just a shame about its irritating ergonomic quirks.
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