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Hi-Grade mDMS P60 Mini-PC review

What all Intel Viiv units were supposed to look like

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Our Verdict

Gadget fetishists will love it, but may be too pricey for the rest

For

  • Compact design

    Impressive specification

    Integral TV tuner

Against

  • Obscure driver set

    Can run rather hot

    Problematic DVI port

For a change, we'll start this review by giving you a brief glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes here. When we review something, we apportion an amount of time to do it. A reasonable amount.

Unfortunately, much of the time that should have been spent enjoying this glorious slim media centre box was wasted wrestling with an obscure driver set and fiddling with what appears to be a faulty DVI port.

Fortunately, all of this struggling it was worth the effort, as this is actually a fairly potent little device, based on the ECS P60 barebones system. Somehow, possibly as a result of some sort of voodoo ceremony, a 1.83GHz Core Duo chip, 1GB of RAM and a TV tuner have been stuffed into this implausibly tiny case.

What's more, it manages to hurry all this hardware along without sounding like an asthmatic - in fact, the mDMS is barely audible at all, though it does run rather hot when placed under strain.

Black box recorder

The fact that the mDMS has such performance clout almost makes its foibles more difficult to forgive. If the P60 does so much stuff right, why are some things left to chance? The unit we had was particularly contrary when it came to graphics output, with the DVI port well and truly refusing to talk to two different monitors.

In the end we had to resort to a DVI to VGA converter cable, and were rewarded with a blurry image that made us feel like our eyes were failing.

Some would argue that you'd usually only use S-Video for a media centre, but with HDTV well and truly on the march (and a chip that can handle it included in this slimline box of delights), you'd expect your media box to pump out the required pixels. Hopefully we were just cursed with a faulty unit, then.

Despite our tainted experience, we must say we are, for the most part, impressed by the P60.

Assuming it works properly, it's a pokey but powerful Viiv enabled Media Center PC, and despite a slightly Eighties exterior, it's subtle enough to be hidden away in the corner by your telly. Our main reservation is that £800 is steep for a monitorless PC, and it only packs 80GB of storage. Mike Channell