We all know Arctic from their cooling products, but as KitGuru discovered a couple of years back, the company has big plans to expand into new markets – and the launch of its brand new, media centre platform is part of that plan. KitGuru checks out the quality on offer with these ‘cheaper than Windows 8’ systems.
In simple terms, Arctic’s new media centre option gives you a passively cooled living room design with multiple USB 3 and 2 ports, a built in multi-card reader, an optical disc and DVB-T tuner – complete with dedicated operating system. Importantly, it is likely to retail around the £175 mark from Amazon (presently on sale in as a barebone option in Germany at €119 including taxes – with the full spec version being discussed here at €199 on the Arctic site).
The outer shell looks gorgeous, with a Hi-Fi finish and it measure 1 foot high (30cm) by 5 inches wide (13cm), complete with remote control.
The underlying idea has been created with OpenELEC in mind, which is short for Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Centre.
It is a small Linux distribution, built from scratch as a platform to turn your computer into a complete XBMC media centre. OpenELEC is fully supported by Intel, ARM, AMD, nVidia, Broadcom and Marvell. Useful.
If we haven’t made your head spin with all those acronyms, then it’s enough to say that Arctic has recognised that you DO want to own a stylish, low cost media centre – but you don’t want to waste any of your budget on things like a specialist operating system.
When you consider that Microsoft has just pushed the Windows 8 OS up to almost £200 (€240/$300), then you can see why.
This new offer from Arctic is for a complete media centre PC – with dedicated operating system – for less than the price of Windows 8.
OpenELEC is designed to make your system boot as fast as possible – and the creators claim that the install is so easy that anyone can turn a blank PC into a media machine in less than 15 minutes. Here are some other advantages:-
• It’s completely free
• The full install is under 125MB
• Hardware requirements are minimal
• Simple install to HDD, SSD, Compact Flash, SD card, pen drive etc – for maximum flexibility
• There are builds for your AMD APU (Fusion), Intel Ion and other platforms
• Simple configuration through the XBMC interface
• Plug and Play external storage
• It allows for file sharing, straight out of the box
That list of features for the OS – naturally translates directly to the system itself.
The core specification is:-
- 1.8GHz Dual Core Atom CPU
- Radeon HD 5430 graphics
- 2GB DDR3
- 1TB data drive
- XMBC 12/OpenELEC 3.0 operating system
- Remote control and 2 year warranty
The OS can be controlled by smartphone apps (Android/iOS) – so you can do lots of clever things – even if you’re not at home – and it’s also extendible so you can add in new features later.
The last thing we should mention is price: The €199 that is being charged by Arxtic themselves – and actually includes shipping to anywhere in the EU. Not bad. Not bad at all.
KitGuru says: Full media centre PC for less than the cost of Windows 8? Hard to believe, but it’s true. At the time of going to press, €199 was £172 while the price for a Windows 8 upgrade on the Microsoft site is £189.
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