It has been a little over a month since Microsoft’s review PC’s caused quite a stir in the blogosphere; I have heard that Microsoft gave out around 90 laptops. We didn’t receive a laptop, instead we received a Velocity Micro Media Center PC (full disclosure). We haven’t really seen too many bloggers writing about it, so we’re not quite sure how many of these went out. It was fresh off the line and not even available on Velocity Micro’s website. The bad news was that we got the unit dead on arrival, presumably from shipping.
We contacted Velocity Micro, and the replacement came last Friday, just in the nick of time. Here are some specs on this beast:
- OrigenAE X11 HTPC Case (PCAlchemy Link)
- AMD X2 5000+ 64-bit processor – dual core (Newegg Link)
- (2) 400GB Seagate Hard Drives in Raid 1 = 400GB of storage total (Newegg Link)
- 2GB Corsair Memory – XMS2 DDr2-800 (Newegg Link)
- LiteOn 16x DVD-RW Drive (Newegg Link)
- Zenith HDTV Antenna (Amazon Link)
- ATI TV Wonder 650 HD Tuner (Amazon Link)
- ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Motherboard (with onboard HD 7.1 channel audio) (Newegg Link)
- ATI X1950 256MB Video Card (Newegg Link)
- SeaSonic M12 Power Supply (Newegg Link)
- Zalman CNPS9500 LED Fan & Heatsink (Newegg Link)
- Media Center Remote Control (Newegg Link)
- Media Center Keyboard (Newegg Link)
- 8-in-1 Floppy/Media Card Reader
I think that sums up about all of the specs you were probably wondering about. Velocity Micro just started selling the unit on Saturday, and this one configures to be $2730. Adding up everything I listed above comes to around $1850, but I didn’t include all of the smaller things that you would probably need if you built your own machine, such as cables or fans.
It came with a Microsoft Media Center infrared keyboard that has a built in mouse. You’ll see it in the last picture below and the keyboard is pretty nice, but it being infrared surely introduces some limitations. The keyboard itself isn’t bad and I like having all of the Media Center shortcuts on each side of it, but it does have a hard time recognizing when you press multiple keys simultaneously such as Ctrl+Alt+Del. The mouse is located in the upper-right corner of the keyboard and reminds me of one of the eraser-like mice you’ll find on laptops. However, it is hardly functional for two reasons: you have to continuously press it down while angling it in order for it to work and it skips across the screen very badly (obviously the infrared doesn’t send enough signals to make the motion smooth). So if you’re looking to pick up one of these keyboards I would make sure you have a spare mouse handy.
We have a Vista review ready for tomorrow, but it doesn’t go as in-depth as I would like with regards to the Media Center functionality. At some point we plan on writing a review specific to Media Center. We’ve got it setup now and the TV functionality works great, but we’re constantly finding new features that almost seem to be hidden…not to mention some great plug-ins we’ve come across that I would like to put in that review. So, you can expect a review explicitly for Media Center at a later date.
The screen on the front of the case is extremely nice because it displays various information depending on what you’re doing in Media Center. If you’re watching a show, for example, it will show you the name of the show as well as the station your currently on. The text is a little small so don’t expect to read it from more than 10 feet away, but if your seating area is close enough it will become a nice tool.
Alright, time to show you some pictures of what the unit looks like on both the inside and out…
Here are a few pictures of the inside:
The front of the case:
Back of the computer case:
Infrared Keyboard/Mouse and Remote: