As with any media center PC, the best way to get to grips with it is to actually use it!
XP Media Center Edition 2005 has been around for a while now, and it's a very mature product. At the risk of sounding blase, if you've seen it run on one system you've seen it on all of them - it doesn't really change that much. The differences between systems depend almost entirely on the underlying hardware platform, drivers and media codecs.
Being Viiv-compliant, with the exception of the Realtek audio drivers the AVPC relies entirely on Intel drivers. These are extremely stable and robust and work very well with Windows XP MCE 2005. The only other codec of note is Cyberlink PowerDVD for DVD playback - again, this has been used with MCE for a long time now, and is the codec of choice for MCE-based systems.
Unfortunately TV playback could not be tested as the TV tuner is hard-configured for US digital TV broadcasting. As the system was tested in Australia, it wasn't compatible with local TV networks.
Apart from the TV, the AVPC performed fine. The system specs are quite high and more than adequate for Windows XP MCE 2005, so there were no lags or sluggish performance.
Two pleasing aspects are that firstly the system is whisper-quiet - you barely hear it running and actually have to get right up close and put your ear to it to detect any sort of system noise. Secondly heat build-up is noticeable but minimal. The top panel is warm to the touch but certainly not uncomfortably so, and because there is only one system fan (the CPU fan) there isn't a general build-up of ambient heat. You'd still need to keep some clear space around the unit, but it still generates far less heat and hot extracted air than many other systems we have seen in the past.
Finally, we decided to put the AVPC through a short series of benchmarks using the default system configuration and drivers which pre-installed - no updates applied. We ran a full suite of PCMark05 tests to get an overview of the system's performance capabilities, and 3DMark05 to just highlight graphics performance.
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