Cool Tech Reviews

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May 31, 2006

AOpen updates MiniPC

You may recall the AOpen look-alike of the Mac mini that they launched last fall. engadget reports that it has been revamped:

It seems that the engineers over at PC manufacturer AOpen have been studiously reading the reviews of the first generation of their Mac mini ripoff homage, the miniPC, as the latest version is promising to eliminate the loud whine that made its predecessor almost unusable. The company has just formally announced the Core Duo-powered version of what is now called the MiniPC (with the capital “M” presumably meant to further differentiate the box from its Apple counterpart), which is essentially the same machine that was being shown off at CeBIT 2006, except with a black case that makes it look less like an external DVD burner.

I’ve always been dubious as to the utility of this system and Dan Ackerman’s review at CNET confirms my doubts:

The good: Not much bigger than a Mac Mini; speedy Core Duo CPU; multiple video output options.

The bad: More expensive than the Mac Mini; BYOKMM (bring your own keyboard, mouse, and monitor); only two USB ports; no remote control; not much in the way of bundled software.

The bottom line: The clone that comes closest to the nearly flawless Mac Mini, AOpen’s MiniPC Duo MP945-V would be easier to recommend if it hit the same price point as Apple’s pocket-size box.

That price point is variously reported as $955 or $899 and the model number is sometimes reported as MP945-VXR.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with a compact form factor machine since there are a number of places where it would be useful such as among home entertainment components, for portability, or just to reduce desk space consumption. But slavish imitation of the Mac mini serves no particular purpose.

Posted at 6:58 am. Filed under AOpen, Apple, Companies, Desktop PC, Small Form Factor

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September 30, 2005

AOpen launches Intel Mac mini Clone

Mark Hachman at ExtremeTechPricing, Ship Date Set For Mac Mini Clone:

AOpen has announced prices and a ship date for its “Pandora” box, the Intel-based clone of the Apple Mac mini.

The Pandora will be sold as a complete system, according to a note from the OEM that was sent to reporters this week. The Pandora will sell for an estimated price of $499 for a Windows-based configuration, and $399 for one configured around Linux. Systems will be available by Christmas, the company said.

I like small form factor machines but it’s not really clear to me what the benefit is in mimicking the Mac mini.

Update: Legit Reviews has the specs and a review.

Posted at 11:13 am. Filed under AOpen, Apple, Companies, Desktop PC, Small Form Factor

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September 28, 2005

Shuttle Launches SFF NVIDIA SLI Ready XPC

For some reason, I really like Small Form Factor (SFF) PCs and now Shuttle has formally launched one on steroids:

The XPC SN26P is the world’s first small form factor system based on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset. Designed to support GeForce 7 series graphics cards, this award winning barebone is a must-have component of the ultimate gaming system.

(Taipei, Taiwan — September 27, 2005) Shuttle Inc – the world’s leading manufacturer of small form factor PCs and accessories – has today released final details of its much anticipated gaming barebone, the XPC SN26P. Previewed by a number of hardware review websites and magazines earlier in the year, the XPC SN26P has, even before today’s launch, earned itself numerous awards including “Most Innovative Product” awards from websites HardwareZone and VRZone.

At its core the XPC SN26P is powered by NVIDIA’s most advanced chipset, the nForce4 SLI. This gives the system enthusiast level performance features including full support for AMD socket 939 processors, SATA 3Gb/s hard drives with RAID, and gigabit Ethernet with hardware acceleration and firewall. 7.1 channel surround sound is enabled by the popular Via Envy24PT audio processor. The barebone has been approved to be compatible with NVIDIA GeForce 7 series graphics cards in SLI configuration, a list of compatible cards is available on the Shuttle website. The barebone will not require the specially designed SLI heat-pipe cooler as seen in prerelease models.The XPC SN26P has begun shipping around the world and should be available in stores in less than one week.

The specs page is here and The Register has some background on the preview program.

Posted at 8:42 pm. Filed under Companies, Desktop PC, Shuttle, Small Form Factor

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